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Ward-Thomas Museum

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Niles Car and Manufacturing Company Company

Ward — Thomas Museum
Home of the Niles Historical Society
503 Brown Street Niles, Ohio 44446

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Mail: PO Box 368 Niles, Ohio 44446

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Erie Street view of the Niles Car and Manufacturing Company. PO1.1580
Erie Street view of the Niles Car and Manufacturing Company. PO1.1580

Mason Street view of the Niles Car and Manufacturing Company. PO1.1532

Mason Street view of the Niles Car and Manufacturing Company. PO1.1532

The History of the Niles Car and Manufacturing Company. By–Les Best

During the early twentieth century the Niles Car and Manufacturing Company was founded in Niles. Beginning operation in January, 1902, the company already had orders for a number of cars to be used in Chicago. At this time the company already employed 250 men. The cars made in Niles were ordered from every state in the Union and could be customized to order. Handsome wooden cars in various sizes, they were beautiful with their Gothic windows, some of them fitted with leaded stained glass or beveled glass.


The company also produced cars for hauling freight but were most noted for the luxurious passenger cars which were in use from coast to coast. Eventually other forms of transportation took their place and now you can only see them in museums or other special places where they have been preserved.

The Niles Car & Manufacturing Company was formed in 1901 when the desire for interurban transportation was at its peak. According to the company’s Articles of Incorporation, the company “intended to manufacture and deal in all kinds of street and railway cars, motors, steam engines, water tanks, and acid tanks for all manufacturing and dealing in railway supplies and appliances of all kinds.” Original investors included G.B. Robbins, director of the Dollar Savings Bank, and W. C. Allison, the Allison and Company planing mill president. The mill’s property would eventually become the site of the factory.

The Niles Car & Manufacturing Company, makers of one of the finest lines of plush electric cars of the area, this building was located on the block bounded by Erie, South Cedar, Allison Avenue and Mason Street. It operated for 16 years before being converted to truck chassis.


Photo of one building of the Niles Car & Manufacturing Co. taken from atop the water tower in the early 1900's. Mason Street is in the foreground. PO1.1429

Photo of one building of the Niles Car & Manufacturing Co. taken from atop the water tower in the early 1900's. Mason Street is in the foreground. PO1.1429

Street car barn and a group of employees from the Mineral Ridge-Niles electric railway.
PO1.1433

Advertisement for the Niles Car & Mfg. Co.

Advertisement for the Niles Car & Mfg. Co.


The interior of car # 308 built by the Niles Car & Manufacturing Co. It is now in the Indiana Museum of Transportation & Communication in Noblesville, Ind. PO1.1435

PO!.1435

Interior view of the Niles Car & Manufacturing Company about 1915 when the streetcars were being phased out and truck chassis were being built.

PO1.1454

Left Top: The interior of car # 308 built by the Niles Car & Manufacturing Co. It is now in the Indiana Museum of Transportation & Communication in Noblesville, Ind. PO1.1435

Right top: Advertisement for the Niles Cars.

Right Middle: 58 foot wood interurban for the Northern Electric Railway in California. The pullman features all windows with arches to provide an abundanceof light into the car.

Right Bottom: a view of the Washington, Baltimore & Annapolis car #64 which is also a classic wooden interurban.

Left Bottom: Interior view of the Niles Car & Manufacturing Company about 1915 when the streetcars were being phased out and truck chassis were being built.

Note the Nashville, Chatanooga & St. Louis interurban car in the background.The production is shifting from the production of fine lines of plush interurban pullman cars as shown in the background of this photo to motor trucks as shown by the truck chassis in the front.

Niles Car Catalog

Right: The Niles Car barn bus belonged to the Mahoning Valley Electric Railway Company. It was used to take the “track-walkers” out to remote areas, where they would walk along the tracks with a bucket of sand. They would sand the tracks where necessary and make sure the switches were clean. The man holding the bucket, was Joseph Marsico, a track walker for the company.

Left: The motormen and conductor stop to pose for a photograph with Mahoning & Shenango Railway and Light car #65 at Warren, Ohio.

The Niles Car barn bus belonged to the Mahoning Valley Electric Railway Company. It was used to take the “track-walkers” out to remote areas, where they would walk along the tracks with a bucket of sand. They would sand the tracks where necessary and make sure the switches were clean. The man holding the bucket, was Joseph Marsico, a track walker for the company.

Advertisement that appeared in the June 1916 Motor Age magazine describing the advantages and types of motor trucks built by the Niles Car & Manufacturing Company.

Advertisement that appeared in the June 1916 Motor Age magazine describing the advantages and types of motor trucks built by the Niles Car & Manufacturing Company.

Motor Truck Production Begins.

For many years, the company built some of the finest streetcars. But many are unaware of the short-lived truck assembled in Niles, OH, by the same company.

On November 30, 1915, notice was given of a stockholders meeting stating that a vote by three-fifths, the following clause be added to the third item of the Articles of Incorporation: the purpose of manufacturing and dealing in motor trucks, power vehicles, and motor supplies and appliances of all kinds, and of doing machine work of all description (entered by C. E. Rose, Sec’y of the Niles Car & Manufacturing Co.)

Word of the added truck production spread across the county. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette published the news of the soon production of “high grade trucks” and that the company operated an “immense factory.” The article stated, “this company is well and favorably known all over the United States”. Thus began the building of three sizes of trucks in Niles.The smallest was the 1500-pound type for all types of local deliveries, the medium weight for light draying, and the biggest probably in the 5-ton range for heavy drayage.

Production was to begin in February of 1916. At first, a limited number of these models were built. It was later estimated somewhere between fifty to one hundred of each type would be turned out, and agencies will be established. A Mr. Hill from Ravenna was hired to oversee the production and body design.

In April 1916, there were approximately three dozen under production, but shipments hampered production due to late shipments. Despite material delays, it was reported that the 2-ton version chassis had its picture taken for catalog purposes; the body which was installed was Niles road-ready.


Assembly line of truck chassis at the Niles Car & Manufacturing Co. PO1.1530

Assembly line of truck chassis at the Niles Car & Manufacturing Co. PO1.1530

Description of truck produced by the Niles Car & Mfg. Company.

Description of truck produced by the Niles Car & Mfg. Company.

May 13, 1916, saw the first truck shipped to a service station in Cleveland, with several more in the construction phase. They were receiving many inquiries and the future looked promising. Later that month, the Niles Times published a help wanted ad for the truck assembly plant. Delivery was made to the Friedman Transfer Company of Youngstown. This truck used a patented worm drive rear end for propulsion and was the finest tuned yet. A second delivery to the same company soon followed within the week. By the end of July 1916, many trucks were assembled and ready for shipment. Unfortunately, supply shortages continued, increasing prices, resulting in dreaded delays.

By 1917, the company decided to cease producing the electric rail car and focus exclusively on the production of motor trucks as an assembled vehicle. Unfortunately, the company entered a saturated market with little marketing experience.

Notice of Stockholders’ Meeting appeared in the Niles News on May 31, 1917. Meeting to be held on the 11th of June, 1917 at 2 o’clock P.M. for the purpose of considering and acting upon a proposed agreement for the sale of the Real Estate, Machinery, Tools and such further portion of the assets. Per. Chas. E. Rose, Secy.

The March 10, 1918 issue carried a ¾ page Announcement that The Niles Car and Manufacturing Co. had been moved to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania after being purchased by Niles Motor Truck Company.

Finally on October 1, 1926 it was reported that the first steps toward the dissolution of the Niles Car and Manufacturing Co. took place with the Bd. Of Directors at the Niles Trust Co. Thus ending truck manufacturing in Niles.

Editor’s Note: During WWI, the plant became Engel Aircraft, manufacturing components for airplanes. Later it became Stevens Metal Products and in 1976 until the present it was the home of Cleveland Steel Container Corporation at 412 Mason Street.

Present day (2021) view of the Cleveland Steel Container Corporation on Mason Street.

Present day (2021) view of the Cleveland Steel Container Corporation on Mason Street.


 

 

 


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