Steam locomotive power dominated transportation from the mid-19th to mid-20th centuries, and Dunkirk served an important role during that era.
In 1851, Dunkirk became the terminus of what was the the longest stretch of railway line running from Piermont outside of New York City to Dunkirk.
On November 11, 1869, Horatio Brooks started the Brooks Locomotive Works, serving as president, with M. L. Hinman as secretary and treasurer.
Over the next 59 years, the firm gave birth to over 13,000 steam locomotives.
Brooks himself, who died in 1887, served as first mayor of the city of Dunkirk. In 1901 the firm was consolidated with other locomotive companies to create the American Locomotive Company. The local plant produced its last locomotive in 1928.
The Brooks Room contains a Brooks fire wagon, photographs of locomotives produced at the Brooks Works, and railroad paraphernalia such as railroad lanterns, a caboose stove, and a sign from the ALCO plant. The room also contains items from the Dunkirk Depot, including a baggage cart. Items from other industries include those from the Atlas Steel Company/Al Tech, and Koch’s Brewery.