Niles Industry, the Early Years: 1843 — 1873

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Site Map 1

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 Milltown, 1842-1873

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 growth.

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 out.

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 River.
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.


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.

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. PO 7.93

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.

PO 1.794

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.

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 1.553

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." All structures were part of Ward Enterprises, however by 1900 they had all been demolished. This photo is captioned Falcon Iron & Nail Co.'s Mills. Galvanizing works and Coleman Shields Co. Mills, Niles, Ohio. PO1.519

Another view of the Falcon Mills.

Another view of the Falcon Mills. PO 1.521


Photo of the nails manufactured at the Falcon Nail Co. Also Blaine & Logan imprimatur.

Photo of the nails manufactured at the Falcon Nail Co. Also Blaine & Logan imprimatur.
PO 1.518

The crew of the Falcon Iron & Nail Co.

The crew of the Falcon Iron & Nail Co. No date PO1.522

Photo of the Globe Foundry & Machine Works in Niles, Ohio. Founded in 1858, it operated until after WWI.

Photo of the Globe Foundry & Machine Works in Niles, Ohio. Founded in 1858, it operated until after WWI. PO 1.545


American Sheet & Tin Plate Co., made first tinplate in the US. Constructed in 1891 by Falcon Iron & Nail Co.

American Sheet & Tin Plate Co., made first tinplate in the US. Constructed in 1891 by Falcon Iron & Nail Co., originally the James Ward Co. but acquired by the Arms Bros. & John Stambaugh after the 1873 Ward failures. PO1.503

American Sheet & Tin Plate Co. located at the end of Depot St. north of the Mahoning River. Sold to the Arms Bros. & Stambaugh in 1873 as a result of the Ward failures, the factory was dismantled in about 1905.

American Sheet & Tin Plate Co. located at the end of Depot St. north of the Mahoning River. Sold to the Arms Bros. & Stambaugh in 1873 as a result of the Ward failures, the factory was dismantled in about 1905. PO1.504

Built in 1870 by William Ward and known as the Wm. Ward & Co blast Furnace, it failed in the Panic of 1873.

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. PO1.634


Located on the east bank of the Mosquito Creek, south of the Erie RR, it was originally the William Ward and Co., built in 1870.

Located on the east bank of the Mosquito Creek, south of the Erie RR, it was originally the William Ward and Co., built in 1870. After the failure of the Ward Co.. John R. Thomas bought it in 1879 and enlarged it. It was acquired and enlarged again by the Carnegie Steel Co. in 1900 and dismantled in 1925. PO1.512

Russia Sheet Mill. Copied from a picture in a souvenir pamphlet by Sykes Steel Roofing Co. of Chicago & Niles in 1893.

Russia Sheet Mill. Copied from a picture in a souvenir pamphlet by Sykes Steel Roofing Co. of Chicago & Niles in 1893. In 1867, James Ward II sent a represenative to Russia to report on the possibility of manufacturing " Russia Iron", a high grade product much in demand for stove manufacturing. Upon a favorable report, the "Russia Sheet Mill" was built on the north bacnk of the Mahoning River, east of the Lisbon branch of Erie RR. PO1.621

Thomas blast furnace. Represents enlargements made by John R. Thomas after acquiring property from Ward's in 1879.

Thomas blast furnace. Represents enlargements made by John R. Thomas after acquiring property from Ward's in 1879. Sold by the Thomas' to Carnegie Steel Co. in 1900 which further enlarged the property. PO1.630


Thomas Steel Plant

Thomas Steel Plant. PO 7.94-7.95

Thomas Steel Plant.

Built in 1870 by William Ward and known as the Wm. Ward & Co blast Furnace, it failed in the Panic of 1873.

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. PO1.635

This picture shows Carnegie Steel Co. furnace as it was before being dismantled in 1925.

This picture shows Carnegie Steel Co. furnace as it was before being dismantled in 1925. Located on the east side of Mosquito Creek, south of the Erie RR. The dirt road seen in picture was Robbins Ave. "Ext." to Main St. Paved road was E. Church St. PO1.511


The Niles Firebrick Co. was constructed by John R. Thomas in 1872 and was one of Niles' most enduring industries.

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

A postcard of the Richard Smith & Co. mill located in Niles.

A postcard of the Richard Smith & Co. mill located in Niles. The mill was in Niles and the office was in Warren. Warren Packard, Edward C. Smith and Mrs. Lizzy B. Ward were the owners. It was a wholesale iron business. PO1.622

View from Central School looking south in downtown Niles. It looked like this about 1900 when you glanced south down Furnace St. (now State St.)

View from Central School looking south in downtown Niles. It looked like this about 1900 when you glanced south down Furnace St. (now State St.) The tall building beyond Abramson Stoves and the hardware store is the Mango Block, and the grist mill built originally by Heaton. Smoke from the mills and frame buildings were the familiar sights of the day. PO1.833


 

 

 

 

 

 


 
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