Construction Classic: 1940s Euclid R24 And NW Engineering Crane – Quite A Pair

(first posted 10/23/2012)       Time for something a little different. These retired workhorses have been part of the scenery in front of a quarry near Blackhawk State Park for years, but I rarely get out to this part of town. Recently (and for the first time since I started writing for CC) I saw them again and just had to investigate. Initially, I was going to do an Outtake, but these compelling old vehicles prompted me to find out more. I knew they were old, but who made them? Well, after a little investigation I now know a lot more. Let’s take a closer look.

If I recall correctly, for about 15 years now this dump truck and crane have formed a sort of roadside display. As you can tell from the photo, they are decorated with strings of lights, and now that I have a nicer camera, I’ll have to see if I can get an early evening/nighttime shot. This imposing piece of machinery is a late ’40s or early ’50s Euclid–an R24, as far as I can tell.


The Euclid Company of Ohio was started in the ’20s as a maker rotary scrapers and other earth-moving equipment. In 1934, they introduced their first dump truck, the 1Z, which was powered by a 100-horse Waukesha engine.

Throughout Euclid’s existence, their forte was earth-moving equipment, the aforementioned scrapers and gigantic off-road dump trucks like this one–not exactly things meant to be driven down the street! The fact that this one is sitting at a quarry speaks volumes about their preferred use when they were new.

As for the company itself, Euclid grew into a much bigger–and more profitable–organization, and by the early ’50s had attracted the eye of a GM then in its heyday of power and profitability. In 1953, GM they bought out Euclid, thus adding dump trucks to an already diverse lineup that included Caddies, Chevrolets, Electro-Motive diesel engines and Frigidaire refrigerators.

However, it wasn’t long before GM, as the 800-pound gorilla of American industry, attracted the attention of then-Attorney General William P. Rogers. In 1959, Rogers filed an anti-trust suit against the titanic corporation, claiming that its sheer size was endangering other U.S. companies. While GM’s army of lawyers were able to hold off the Feds for years, they eventually relented and sold Euclid to White Motor Company in 1968.

The sale of Euclid to White marked the beginning of its slide from dominance. While Euclid would never again experience the prosperity of its earlier years, the well-built and over-engineered Euclid trucks, including this survivor, remind us of why the company did so well for so long.

In a way, Euclid is still alive; after operating under various ownership (including Daimler-Benz and Volvo) between 1977 and 1993, the company finally was purchased by Hitachi Construction Machinery.  Even though Hitachi currently builds 100% of the output, many products leave the factory with a Euclid badge.

And now for the other half of our pair. In 1918, Northwest Engineering Co., of Green Bay, Wisconsin, started building ocean-going tugboats during World War I. Unfortunately for NW, they came out too late in the war to put much in the company’s coffers. In 1920, after seeing no remaining interest in tugboats, NW decided to build a copy of the cranes used in their shipyard. After that, cranes became their bread-and-butter, notwithstanding about 1,000 additional tugboats they built during WWII.

Early NW cranes used boilers to operate the booms and move around, but by the ’40s these had been replaced with diesel engines–perhaps one of which you can see hiding in the shadows in the picture. Can anyone identify it?

In 1983, Northwest was taken over by Terex Corporation.  Ironically, Terex had been set up by GM in 1968 to produce construction equipment not covered by the federal ruling that prompted the sale of Euclid to White. The final cranes were built in 1990, when the factory closed. I’d never have guessed that this pair would wind up sharing so much history. They are certainly connected by more than first met my eyes!