Author Topic: Municipal Castings  (Read 416 times)

Offline Terry Wharton

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Municipal Castings
« on: April 06, 2018, 11:31:37 AM »
Growing up in and around Lancaster, OH, I've always been surrounded by locally manufactured storm sewer tops and manhole covers from both Eagle Machine Co. (1870-1940) and Alten's Foundry & Machine Works (1889-1983), the latter who also had an outdoor cooking division. In recent years I've taken notice of examples from other foundries lurking out in the territory. In the first photo is the initial manhole cover I encountered cast by the Humphrey Pipe & Foundry Co., of Bellefontaine, OH; it is located just off the public square in Piqua. The second photo is a Humphrey taken over in Bremen, just east of Lancaster. Bremen had an oil boom that lasted from 1907 until some point in the 1920s and at the time could boast of paved brick streets, a water system, and a sewer system that at the time was unusual for a village of its size.

Here is some biographical background on Humphrey from "History of Logan Co. and Ohio": Joseph A. Humphrey, Proprietor of Brass and Iron Foundry, Bellefontaine. Of the old and respected businessmen of Bellefontaine stands the above-mentioned gentleman, who was born in Jefferson Co. Ohio in 1818. In 1835 he moved to Logan Co. with his parents and located on a farm near Bellefontaine. In 1841 he learned his trade as a machinist; he, in company with several others, started the first foundry in Bellefontaine - firm of Stroud, Humphrey and Scott. After working here several years at the foundry business, he went to Indiana and was for four years in the saw-mill business, when he moved to Pemberton, Shelby Co. Ohio, where he followed the same business until 1865, during which time he also enlisted in the 13th O.V.I. under Captain Wilkinson and served with the 100-Days Service, doing duty near Richmond and Petersburg. In 1865 he returned to Bellefontaine and in 1874 embarked in his present business by erecting a frame building, 24' x 30', with basement and first floor. This was erected to do a general repairing business in the agricultural line, and run by horse-power, but the business gradually increased until Mr. Humphrey added a foundry department to do a general foundry and molding business. In 1889 he increased his business by building a new 24' x 36' addition and today has a neat foundry and machine shop, where he is prepared to do all kinds of work usually done in the foundry and machine shop business. He is engaged very extensively in manufacturing iron pumps, which are meeting with good sale; his machine shop is now run by steam-power, employing some six men in both departments. He is a man that is recognized as being a No. 1 machinist; he did the first iron turning in Bellefontaine; his work turned out from his establishment is of a No. 1, giving satisfaction to his customers; his business is constantly increasing.
« Last Edit: April 07, 2018, 06:07:06 AM by iron159 »
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Online Dwayne Henson

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Re: Municipal Castings
« Reply #1 on: April 13, 2018, 08:34:51 AM »
Glascock made municipal castings as well. Nollie has found some manhole covers they cast.
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Offline Nollie Neill Jr

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Re: Municipal Castings
« Reply #2 on: April 13, 2018, 09:21:02 AM »
Dwayne, THANKS for mentioning us.  Terry love reading anything about any old foundry, thanks for sharing this.

YES, Glascock made Man hole covers, but I have not found any yet.  I have paperwork where they were quoting Man Hole Covers for various towns and also have it listed in newspaper articles, but none in the collection yet.  Pomona Foundry & Cook-Lewis Foundry both also in Greensboro, NC made these covers, I've found a couple of the Pomona ones still in use.   

Recently a couple of Water Meter covers were given to me by a small town here in NC.  I'm sure these were made by Glascock's Jobbing Foundry.  This term was used when they would make anything a customer asked for. 

So my suggestion is we All need to walk around these old towns with our head down, no telling what we might find. 
Glascock Stove Historian / Collector - Great, Great Grandson of Founder - Ennice, NC

Offline Terry Wharton

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Re: Municipal Castings
« Reply #3 on: April 14, 2018, 07:00:26 AM »
Dwayne, thanks much for pointing out Nollie's efforts.

You're welcome, Nollie. That water meter cover is a real gem. I hope that Glascock in fact marked their manhole covers, and that you manage to locate one. Philip Smith evidently manufactured manhole covers, but I haven't had a chance to brave the Sidney traffic and investigate what may be over there. Have you photographed the Pomona covers? You're so right: there is much to be learned by putting our feet in the street and examining what is hiding in plain sight. In a residential neighborhood in Lancaster I recently stumbled upon several deep, angled abrading grooves of various widths in a section of the old original (locally quarried) sandstone curbing. I still need to find out just who all lived at that address back in the day, and what they did for a living. Someone put considerable effort into this appropriation of public property; it wasn't simple vandalism. If I hadn't been out on a brick walk (salt-glazed street and sidewalk pavers, another obsession), I never would've encountered this decades old evidence.  Again Nollie, good luck and keep us posted.

Here are views of two more covers, also located over in Bremen. They were cast by the South Bend Foundry Co. and it appears that there was more than one foundry bearing that name. I was fortunate to find on the web two images of similar manhole covers not located in the street and therefore not subjected to decades of traffic wear.

I'll soon be posting views of Eagle and Alten castings in Lancaster, as well as again over in Bremen.
« Last Edit: April 14, 2018, 08:12:28 AM by iron159 »
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Offline Terry Wharton

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Re: Municipal Castings
« Reply #4 on: April 14, 2018, 07:22:23 AM »
Having trouble with the images; I'll try the other three one at a time.
« Last Edit: April 14, 2018, 07:26:49 AM by iron159 »
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Offline Terry Wharton

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Re: Municipal Castings
« Reply #5 on: April 14, 2018, 07:27:27 AM »
Next one.
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Offline Terry Wharton

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Re: Municipal Castings
« Reply #6 on: April 14, 2018, 07:28:02 AM »
Number three.
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Offline Terry Wharton

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Re: Municipal Castings
« Reply #7 on: April 14, 2018, 07:36:08 AM »
Number four.
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Online Dwayne Henson

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Re: Municipal Castings
« Reply #8 on: April 14, 2018, 09:18:40 AM »
Thanks Terry, now I'm wondering what our covers look like!
Experience hath shewn, that even under the best forms of government those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny.
Thomas Jefferson

Offline Terry Wharton

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Re: Municipal Castings
« Reply #9 on: April 15, 2018, 04:13:46 PM »
Dwayne, I hope they're both old and marked!

The Eagle Machine Co. (1870-1940) was located on a site that already been home to two foundries. Gilbert Devol was in operation from 1840-1870 and is today best remembered for his unique wrought iron fences. He also reportedly manufactured stoves and hollowware. William Pursell took over from 1867-1870, at which point the Whiley family assumed control - renaming it the Eagle Machine Co - and they operated it for three generations. Their fruit presses sold very well and even today are prized as users (they surface on eBay), the corn jobbers are still a common sight locally, as are their corn shellers, including the bolt-down "Home Sheller" (I'm lucky enough to have one).

Henry Alten, a German immigrant who had been previously employed by the Motherwell Foundry, in Logan (20 mi. to the south), established a blacksmith shop in 1889 to repair farm implements, as well as serve the local oil and gas industries sharpening drills and doing repair work. By the late 1930s Alten's Foundry and Machine Works had two locations in town: Plant #1 had gray iron and alloy iron foundries, a structural and welding division, and a chemical and metallographic laboratory. Plant #2 had a complete machine shop, structural shop, assembly shop, and a  warehouse. My first two summers after high school were spent as a tow motor operator for Lancaster Glass, who rented space in the cavernous Alten's warehouse. Occasionally I would accompany a city driver to S. Maple St. and fill a 40' trailer with TV cathode tubes and faceplates. The very thick concrete floor always felt cool to the touch in the summer heat and there were plenty of bats darting around the forklift for atmosphere.

Here are some Alten's and Eagles city castings located in Bremen and Lancaster.
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Offline Terry Wharton

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Re: Municipal Castings
« Reply #10 on: April 15, 2018, 04:17:16 PM »
Some more Eagle and Alten's.
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Online Dwayne Henson

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Re: Municipal Castings
« Reply #11 on: April 16, 2018, 08:20:46 AM »
If you could find 2 of those, weld in a hinge it would make a heck of a waffle!
Experience hath shewn, that even under the best forms of government those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny.
Thomas Jefferson

Offline Tom Neitzel

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Re: Municipal Castings
« Reply #12 on: April 16, 2018, 02:18:02 PM »
Norwegians beat you to it Dwayne. ;D

Online Dwayne Henson

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Re: Municipal Castings
« Reply #13 on: April 16, 2018, 04:04:02 PM »
Them dang Norwegians!
Experience hath shewn, that even under the best forms of government those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny.
Thomas Jefferson