The McHugh family started in the service industry back in 1896 with the Charles James McHugh Co. located in Philadelphia, PA as a hauling, rigging, and service company, that was assigned Pennsylvania hauling authority certificate #87. After the turn of the century in 1916, the C.J. McHugh & Son Co. was formed and the business expanded with motorized trucks and hauling trailers. The E.P. McHugh Co. was established in 1929, and a 10 ton lift capacity crane was purchased from the Insley company in 1931. In May of 1945 the E.P. McHugh Co. purchased the worlds largest truck crane, a 20 ton lift capacity machine from the Baycity Company. The E.P. McHugh Co. in 1950, again purchased another of the worlds first largest truck crane, a 45 ton lift capacity machine from the Lorain Co.
Several of the American Hoist & Derrick Co. cranes built between 1962 and the mid 1970’s, were developed because of the innovative concepts of Jimmy McHugh.
The McHugh family business diversified and expanded under the direction of Jimmy McHugh. In 1962, Jimmy was instrumental in the design and development of the worlds first 6 axle truck truck crane carrier that had 3 steering axles and 3 drive axles. Jimmy McHugh decided that his new 6 axle crane carrier would be of a fabricated welded construction built with the newly developed USS T-1 steel, another one of the McHugh’s and worlds first. Jimmy McHugh was able to convince Bill Hendrickson of his idea and the crane carrier was manufactured by Hendrickson Truck of Lyons IL. Jimmy McHugh was also able to convince John Carrol the president at the American Hoist & Derrick Company, to supply a new 700 series American crane upper for Jimmy’s new crane carrier. This made Jimmy McHugh’s machine the world’s first 6 axle truck crane with a 100 ton lift capacity.
Because of the great success of Jimmy McHugh’s 6 axle carrier, Bill Hendrickson of Hendrickson Truck and John Carrol of American Crane continued to work closely with Jimmy on the design and development of other never before built 6 axle cranes. In 1967 the first 6 axle truck crane with a 175 ton lift capacity was built, and in 1969 the first 6 axle truck crane with a 200 ton lift capacity was built. The McHugh’s also had other first built American cranes in their rigging and crane fleet that included. The first 900 series crawler crane with a 225 ton lift capacity, that had long Costalo type boom capabilities., and the first two 8440 model 4 axle 150 ton lift capacity truck cranes. Another innovative crane industry design of Jimmy McHugh is the McHugh Tip Head Section of crane boom. This boom is still sold today by the former American Hoist & Derrick Co. ( now TEREX ) when an order for this type of new OEM factory boom is placed.
Over the decades, Jimmy McHugh also design several large heavy haul tractors and trailers that were build in the McHugh shops. One particular innovative McHugh large heavy haul project was moving a 610 ton Nuclear Reactor in Ohio for a power plant with a trailer that had 196 steer-able tires.
The McHugh Bros. companies from 1958 until the mid 1980’s were operated by: Robert C. (Bobby) McHugh – President, James C. (Jimmy) McHugh Sr. V.P. & Secretary Treasure, Emmerson Clark – V.P. & Mgr. Crane Rentals, William Gallagher Sr. – V.P. & Mgr. Heavy Hauling, along with other family members and staff performing various duties.
Jimmy McHugh’s interest in steam railroading and how he along with others, saved a bankrupt short line railroad from the scrappers torch, and turned it into a successful business.
Jimmy McHugh in 1966 began assisting a newly formed all steam locomotive powered freight and passenger heritage railroad located in south eastern Pennsylvania. Unfortunately within only a few days after start up of the New Hope & Ivyland railroad in early July 1966. The short lines 4-6-0 steam locomotive #1533 derailed at a switch traveling at an excessive speed. This caused severe damaged to the #1533 that twisted the frame, bent the driving rods, and the lead truck assembly also required major repairs. Jimmy McHugh was contracted to provide a crane and equipment so the #1533 could be repaired and Jimmy also became the NH&I’s official “Wreckmaster” in July 1966.
The original owners of the New Hope & Ivyland railroad quickly overspent the company’s funds on many outlandish ideas and it also had an absorbent payroll for employees, that caused the NH&I to declare bankruptcy in June 1970. The railroads well worn-out 4-6-0 steam locomotive #1533 would operate sporadically, so an old ALCO RS-1 diesel locomotive was acquired to supplement motive power when required. The first US Bankruptcy court appointed trustee R. Guthrie, who hired his wife as ticket agent, added his and his wife’s salaries to the NH&I’s payroll. Under the leadership of trustee Guthrie and his paid supertendent, the NH&I continued to fall into disrepair do to poor operating practices, that included a lack of maintenance to the right-a-way and equipment, with the railroad continuing to sink futhure into debt.
By late 1972 the NH&I was close to becoming a thing of the past and being scrapped. A local railroad enthusiast Kenneth Andrews was appointed by the US Bankruptcy court as the NH&I’s second trustee an generously agreed to only be paid one dollar a year for his services. Kenneth Andrews knew that businessman Jimmy McHugh was also a railroad and trolley enthusiast, so he asked Jimmy to volunteer and assist him with operating the NH&I. Kenneth Andrews and Jimmy McHugh, along with BCIDC, then developed a plan of re-orgazation to save the New Hope & Ivyland and it was accepted by the US Bankruptcy Court. In December 1973 the McHugh’s purchased their first diesel locomotives from the closed Copper Range Railroad located in Michigan, and the #100 & #101 Baldwin 1000hp switchers arrive at New Hope Pa in early January 1974. The McHugh family under the McHugh Bros. Heavy Hauling company in April 1974 officially became the designated operator of the NH&I railroad and Jimmy McHugh was named president of the line. The efforts of Kenneth Andrews, Jimmy McHugh, and BCIDC, during 1973 truly is what saved the NH&I from extinction and becoming only a faded memory.
The determination of Jimmy McHugh to have a rebirth of the New Hope & Ivyland railroad included the restoration to a 1925 built Baldwin 2-8-0 steam locomotive and to have it back in operation to cerebrate the McHugh’s officially becoming the new operator of the NH&I. On October 18th of 1974 with much fanfare steam locomotive #40 was return back to service at the NH&I. The McHugh Bros. employees and NH&I volunteer’s, took on the task to restored a second steam locomotive during 1976. The US Army 0-6-0 required a major restoration that included replacing the worn-out wheels, and the #9 was returned back to service in August 1976. The NH&I railroad within 5 years under the sound leadership of Jimmy McHugh was released from bankruptcy in June of 1979. Due to the leadership of Jimmy McHugh, the McHugh Bros. employees, and the lines railfan volunteers, changed the doomed fate of the NH&I around allowing it to continue in operation.
JC McHugh at the young age of 6 on the weekends would always be with his father Jimmy at work. By the mid 1970’s JC began working part time for the McHugh family business to learn the intricacies of the various McHugh operations and in 1979 he became a full time employee. JC’s skills and duties at that time included him to be a certified crane an union operating engineer, heavy haul truck driver, and steam / diesel locomotive engineer. Then in 1980 JC also became superintendent of the McHugh Bros. / NH&I operation, and his duties included: leasing locomotives and locomotive cranes, along with providing on-site repair service of these units to short lines, industrial plants with rail operations, and railroad contractors. The McHugh Bros. / NH&I operation from 1974 expanded to include: 10 diesel electric locomotives, 500 new box cars, 8 flatcars, 4 gondola cars, a side dump car, 1 tank car, and over 200 pieces of MOW equipment.
During the year of 1982 Robert C. McHugh and Emmerson Clark passed away and Gerald J. McHugh became president of the McHugh Bros. companies. Unfortunately, Gerald J. Edward L., and Adelaide McHugh, did not have the same passion for the NH&I as did the late Emmerson Clark, the late Robert C. McHugh and the NH&I’s president James C. McHugh. In 1983 the Shore Fast Line was started with a partner company, and Jimmy McHugh was also president of that New Jersey railroad. The McHugh half interest of the SFL operation was sold in the spring of 1985, and JC McHugh and another McHugh family member were trustees of that corporation.
During August of 1985 the majority of stockholders at the McHugh Bros. companies made a decision to exit operating the New Hope & Ivyland and associated businesses of locomotive / railroad equipment repair and leasing. Jimmy along with JC McHugh, and another McHugh family member, then decided to purchase those operations from the McHugh Bros. company and they also began to move forward to execute the purchase of the NH&I from BCIDC per the McHugh Bros. lease purchase agreement as a separate operation. However, negotiations for the sale of those operations were later terminated.
Jimmy and JC McHugh by late November 1985 believed that the new business plan put into effect by the other stockholders at the McHugh Bros. companies would not be successful, so they both resigned from the firm. Jimmy McHugh went to work for the United Crane & Shovel Company in New Jersey, and JC McHugh started the new McHugh Locomotive business.
A change of the management occurred at the McHugh Bros. companies in December 1985 that had Edward L. McHugh as president of the NH&I. It was not long thereafter that the railroad began to decline again, and in June of 1989 when the NH&I lease expired with BCIDC, the McHugh Bros. company did not have the funds available to purchase the railroad. BCIDC then leased the NH&I for a year to another operator until the railroad was sold to a new owner in 1990. The McHugh Bros. companies that included: Heavy Hauling, Crane Rentals, Equipment Corp., under the leadership of the remaining stockholders: Edward L., Gerald J., Adelaide McHugh, and William McNulty, ceased operation in 1987.