The Browning Engineering Co.: Designers and Builders of Locomotive Cranes

The Browning Engineering Co. was founded in Cleveland in 1900 by two engineers, Victor R. Browning and his younger brother Earl H. Browning, with the financial support of Benjamin F. Miles. The cranes were designed and manufactured at the company's headquarters at 16226 South Waterloo Road in the Collinwood neighborhood of Cleveland.

The goal of the company was to design and build hoisting machinery. Initially, this included locomotive cranes. The company's early cranes were built to support construction and maintenance of streetcar and railroad lines. Soon, design variations were introduced to support many additional types of hoisting activity. The significance of Browning Locomotive Crane was noted by the Browning brothers' alma mater Purdue University in their 1925 yearbook, the Debris. See a digital reproduction of the page from the yearbook.

Although Victor and Earl Browning left the company by the end of the 1920s, Browning Engineering — later known as the Browning Crane Co. and Browning Crane and Shovel — continued to build locomotive and truck-mounted boom cranes until the mid-1950s, when the company's buildings were sold to the Wellman Engineering Company (later McDowell Co.).

Members of the Browning Family formed a number of additional engineering businesses, including Victor R. Browning & Co. Inc., an overhead crane company located in Willoughby, Ohio. However, these businesses were independent of the Browning Engineering Co. and its locomotive cranes.

About the Collection

The Browning Engineering Co. Collection showcases a variety of the company's locomotive cranes, as well as their use during early twentieth-century building projects, including the construction of the Panama Canal. The collection also features the company's early patents, dating from 1905 and 1908.


This collection is the 2017 practicum project of Rebecca Wendeln, a student at Kent State University’s School of Library and Information Science.

She would like to thank Ned Browning, for providing the materials included in this collection, as well as a wealth of information on the Browning Engineering Company. She would also like to thank the following staff members at the CSU Library for their help with the creation of this collection: Bill Barrow, Head of Special Collections; Marsha Miles, Digital Initiatives/Art Librarian; Lynn Duchez Bycko, Special Collections Manager; and Lauren Felder, Web Specialist.