Site Map 1:
Boiler Works,Falcon Iron, Firebrick,
Globe Foundry, Gristmill, Ward Iron Works, Ward Blast Furnace, Mosquito
Creek, Mahoning River.
Site Map 2:
Firebrick, Globe Foundry, Ward Sheet
Iron Works (Russia Field), Meander Creek, Mahoning River.
The first iron furnace west of the
Allegheny Mountains. It was built in 1807 by Gideon Hughes and operated
by William McKinley Sr. father of President William McKinley.
Milltown: the Early Years 1843 - 1873
The industrial history of Niles entered
a new phase with the death of Warren Heaton in 1842. The
pioneer work done by James Heaton and his son. Warren,
came to an end, and was followed by a period of rapid industrial
A new generation of industrial leaders established a number of new
and greater enterprises that spurred the growth of Niles as a manufacturing
center. The completion of the Pennsylvania-Ohio Canal and the availability
of raw iron from Heaton’s “Maria” furnace were
probably factors which brought James Ward, Sr., his brother,
William, and Thomas Russell to Niles from Lisbon,
Ohio in 1841 to build their first plant here.
Coming from England where the manufacture of iron was more advanced,
the Wards applied their improved technology when they built three
puddling furnaces and a stand of rolls in the first plant. This
enterprise on the banks of the Mahoning River, east of Main Street,
used the first puddling furnaces and rolled the first iron west
of Pittsburgh. When the antiquated “Maria” furnace closed,
James Ward, Sr., constructed the “Elizabeth” furnace
just across the Mosquito Creek. The new furnace was vastly superior
to the old, producing as much as twenty-eight tons of iron daily,
compared to the mere three which the old “Maria” turned
James Ward, Sr. was the city’s industrial leader during this
period until struck down by an assassin’s bullet, July 24,
1864. Control of the Ward enterprises then fell to his son, James
Ward, Jr. The Ward enterprises continued to expand, stimulated
by new factors, including the arrival of railroads after 1856. A
new source of local iron ore was discovered by John Lewis
under the Mineral Ridge coal deposits. These events, coupled with
the huge industrial demands created by the Civil War induced the
Wards to rebuild and greatly enlarge their original plant. But the
Wards moved in new directions, too. In 1867, the famous Falcon Iron
& Nail Company was constructed on the east bank of the Mosquito
Creek, opposite the old Heaton grist mill. The next year, using
a process for producing polished steel sheets developed in Russia,
they built the “Russia Field” mill on the north bank
of the Mahoning River, east of Lisbon line railroad bridge. The
last major Ward plant was a new iron furnace raised by William Ward
and Company on the east side of the creek, south of the Erie Railroad.
It had a productive capacity of twenty-six tons per day.
These enterprises lifted the Wards to preeminence, but other industrialists,
mostly Niles men, also contributed to the city’s increasing
industrialization. Thomas Carter established the Globe
Foundry, on the south side of the river, in 1858. Harris, Blackford
and Company built a puddling and rolling mill north of the Erie
Railroad, near the Heaton Dam. George and Jerimiah Reeves
constructed the Niles Boiler Works on the east bank of the creek,
near the Erie tracks.
One of the most enduring industries started at this time was the
Niles Firebrick Company, established by John R. Thomas
in 1872. It stood at the confluence of the Mosquito Creek and Mahoning
On the eve of the Great Panic of 1873,
Niles was a hive of industry with two blast furnaces, four extensive
rolling mills with puddling furnaces, the large nail works, the
Globe Foundry, a boiler works and a brickyard.
Part 2: Milltown, Panic and Recovery
1874-1900 Part 3: Milltown, Merger and Diversification
James Heaton's "Maria" blast
furnace built in 1812 on the west bank of the Mosquito Creek. Its
fires went out in 1854. Very primitive but none-the-less functional.
Fuel was charcoal. "Kidney" ore was melted producing 2-3
tons of pig iron per day. Molten iron was ladled out with long handled
dippers into moulds or sows to make pig iron. PO
Photo of the Globe Foundry & Machine
Works in Niles, Ohio. Founded in 1858, it operated until after WWI.
Smoky industrial skyline
of Niles at the peak of iron manufacturing, descibed by historian
Howe in 1888 as "among the most extensive in the state."
This photo is captioned
Falcon Iron & Nail Co.'s Mills. Galvanizing works and Coleman
Shields Co. Mills, Niles, Ohio. PO1.519
The crew of the Falcon Iron &
Nail Co. PO1.522
Photo of nails manufactured at the
Falcon Nail Co. Also Blaine & Logan imprimatur.
All structures were
part of Ward Enterprises, by 1900 they had all been demolished.
Built in 1870 by William Ward and
known as the Wm. Ward & Co blast Furnace, it failed in the Panic
of 1873. It was purchased by John R. Thomas in 1879 who increased
capacity from 25 to 320 tons. In 1900 it became part of the Carnegie
Steel Co. but was operated only in times of great demand for steel,
the last period of steady use being WWI. Closed in 1920, dismantled
in 1925. This picture shows the original Ward Blast Furnace.
The Niles Firebrick Co. was constructed
by John R. Thomas in 1872 and was one of Niles' most enduring industries.
It was known nationwide for its high quality firebrick.
The new type of blast furnaces introduced
after WWII made firebrick obsolete and the plant closed and was
dismantled in 1974-75. PO1.562
In 1867, James Ward II sent a represenative
to Russia to report on the possibility of manu-facturing "
Russia Iron", a high grade product much in demand for stove
Upon a favorable report, the "Russia
Sheet Mill" was built on the north bank of the Mahoning River,
east of the Lisbon branch of Erie RR. PO1.621