Reminisce: Lima’s days in construction equipment


By Greg Hoersten - For The Lima News



An operator uses a model 101 S-143 Lima Power Shovel Co. machine in this undated photo.

An operator uses a model 101 S-143 Lima Power Shovel Co. machine in this undated photo.


Courtesy of Allen County Historical Society

This undated photo shows a 1-yard, single-line gasoline shovel owned by Claycraft Mining & Brick Co., Columbus, built by the Lima Power Shovel Co.

This undated photo shows a 1-yard, single-line gasoline shovel owned by Claycraft Mining & Brick Co., Columbus, built by the Lima Power Shovel Co.


Courtesy of Allen County Historical Society

This undated photo shows a model 101 working opposite the Ohio Theatre on West North Street, Lima. The model 101 dug 1 yard of earth at 1 mph.


Courtesy of Allen County Historical Society

Al and Don Faurot with one of first Ohio Steam Shovels built at the Lima Steel Foundry, seen in the 200 block of South Cole Street. This photo is dated May 1928.


Courtesy of Allen County Historical Society

George T. Wright was photographed in May 1928 in front of his 224 S. Cole St. home, with Len Faurot at right.


Courtesy of Allen County Historical Society

A 1-yard, single-line gasoline shovels owned by Claycraft Mining & Brick Co., Columbus, built by the Lima Power Shovel Co.


Courtesy of Allen County Historical Society

This undated photo shows a 1-yard, single-line gasoline shovel owned by Claycraft Mining & Brick Co., Columbus, built by the Lima Power Shovel Co.


Courtesy of Allen County Historical Society

This undated photo shows a 1-yard, single-line gasoline shovel owned by Claycraft Mining & Brick Co., Columbus, built by the Lima Power Shovel Co.


Courtesy of Allen County Historical Society

Officials at Lima Hamilton Corp. at an instructional luncheon Oct. 10, 1947, at the Argonne Hotel. From left: J.C. Coombe, J.J. Rowe, L.A. Larsen and Walter Rentschler.


Courtesy of Allen County Historical Society

Larsen


Courtesy of Allen County Historical Society

This undated photo shows a 1-yard, single-line gasoline shovel owned by Claycraft Mining & Brick Co., Columbus, built by the Lima Power Shovel Co.


Courtesy of Allen County Historical Society

A Lima Power Shovel Co. is used to move earth in this undated photo.


Courtesy of Allen County Historical Society

An abandoned machine rusts.


Courtesy of Allen County Historical Society

An order of five model 101 shovels loaded onto flatbed rail cars wait for delivery to Rodgers & Hagerty Contractors in NYC. The Loco Works is in the background.


Courtesy of Allen County Historical Society

A single line gasoline shovel moves earth in this undated photo.


Courtesy of Allen County Historical Society

SOURCE

This feature is a cooperative effort between the newspaper and the Allen County Museum and Historical Society.

In September 1951, an era ended when the last of more than 7,800 steam locomotives produced in Lima rolled out of the shops of the Baldwin-Lima-Hamilton Corp., which occupied a sprawling 67-acre site on South Main Street.

“When the Pennsylvania railroad takes delivery of the last engine,” The Lima News wrote Sept. 9, 1951, “a powerful chapter in the city’s industrial history will close, with a happy ending — an expected ending.

“The death knell of locomotive manufacture sounded here more than a year ago,” the News added. “It wasn’t audible. It was lost in the bustle of a plant that has been revitalized — a plant that has been given a new lease on life through diversification of products — shovels, cranes, draglines, stone crushers, road-building equipment.”

Although B-L-H would struggle — and ultimately fail — to carve out a niche for its diesel-powered locomotives, its construction equipment division, which had thrived while the company became famous for its massive steam locomotives, would roll on for another 30 years.

That diversification had its roots just to the south, at Lima industrialist John E. Galvin’s Ohio Steel Foundry.

“Possibility that Lima will have another large industry that will rival the Lima Locomotive Works in size and importance was seen here Wednesday with the incorporation at Columbus of the Ohio Steam Shovel Company,” the News reported July 9, 1924.” “John E. Galvin and George S. Vail, both of the Ohio Steel Foundry, are named in the telegraphic dispatches as the incorporators of the new company, which will manufacture an improved type of steam shovel.”

The new firm, the newspaper noted, would benefit the Lima Locomotive Works, for which it produced metal castings, as well as the foundry “as the demand for steam shovels and locomotives will probably be at different seasons.”

On Sept. 26, 1925, the News reported that the “first gasoline shovel to be manufactured by the Ohio Steam Shovel Co., a recently organized corporation associated with the Ohio Steel Foundry Co., is now in operation and is being demonstrated daily at the plant south of the city.” The shovel, designed by a prolific inventor named John D. Rauch, had a “number of unusual features,” according to the newspaper, among them “the large amount of steel castings used in the assembly of the shovel” and “an improved caterpillar-type tread” for motive power.

The Ohio Power Shovel Company’s relationship with the Lima Locomotive Works, where the shovels had been assembled for several years, was formalized in January 1928, when it became a subsidiary of the locomotive works.

The machine the Ohio Power Shovel Company produced, the News wrote March 30, 1930, was the “famous” Lima 101. “The trade name, Lima ‘101,’” the newspaper wrote, “explains one of the leading features of the machine. It means that the hoist has a speed of 100 feet a minute, a speed surpassed by no other machine of its kind.” The shovels were capable of moving 1 1/4 yards of earth or other material in one scoop and were convertible to cranes, clamshells, drag lines or drag shovels “to suit all kinds of digging and material handling.”

The “101,” the News added, had been used to rebuild levees in Arkansas and Louisiana, dig subways in New York City, clear the way for highways in Pennsylvania, excavate the site of New York City’s Chrysler building and, at home, a “101” excavated the basement of the Lima post office. The mechanical descendants of the “101” — power shovels cranes, drag lines and other construction equipment — would be used to widen the Panama Canal, mine coal in Wales and clean up the rubble left by World War II in Europe as well as the rubble left by progress closer to home. A Lima-built shovel was used to clean up after the demolition of Lima’s Faurot Opera House in 1953.

On New Year’s Eve of 1934, it was announced the Ohio Power Shovel Co. had been consolidated with its parent company, the Lima Locomotive Works. “This business in the future will be handled directly by the Locomotive Works as its shovel and crane division,” the News wrote. The division, which employed about 600 workers and headed by L.A. Larsen, would do well.

“Executives of the shovel division of the Lima Locomotive Works, Inc., disclosed Saturday that the volume of business handled in the first seven months of this year was far ahead of that of the corresponding period in any other year of the division’s history,” the News wrote Aug. 23, 1936, adding that, unlike earlier in the Great Depression, only a small percentage of the sales were to the government. “This situation was contrasted with the fact that two years ago at least 80 percent of the shovels built in Lima were taken by the government for use on large public construction projects.”

The consolidation came at a time when the market for the Lima Locomotive Work’s signature product was declining as the buying power of railroads declined, the News noted.

As the years went by, the company name and structure went through more changes. In 1947, Lima Locomotive Works merged with General Machinery Corp. of Hamilton to become Lima-Hamilton Corp. Three years later, on December 4, 1950, Lima-Hamilton and Baldwin Locomotive Works consolidated to form Baldwin-Lima-Hamilton Corp.

By 1959, B-L-H was out of the locomotive business entirely but continued to play an important part in Lima’s economy with the manufacture of construction equipment. The News wrote on June 28, 1959, that “B-L-H is continuing to live up to the reputation established during the locomotive days. Once known as the ‘business barometer’ of Lima, it continues to employ 1,500 Limaites, and its monthly payroll still plays a vital part in the economy of Lima.”

More change was coming. In 1965, B-L-H merged with Armour and Company, becoming the Lima Division of Baldwin-Lima-Hamilton Corp, a subsidiary of Armour and Company. A half dozen years later, in 1971, Clark Equipment Company of Buchanan, Michigan, purchased the company. In February of 1974, the News reported Clark Equipment employed an average of 1,575 workers during 1973.

But, like most of Lima’s heavy industry, Clark Equipment was struggling by the end of the 1970s. A reprieve was gained in 1978 when Clark closed a facility near Chicago and transferred some of its operations to Lima.

The Lima plant, however, continued to be a money loser and, in September 1980, the News reported that Clark officials confirmed discussions were under way to sell the plant.

“Earlier this spring,” the newspaper wrote, “local Clark workers went on a shortened Monday-through-Thursday production schedule in an effort to ward off the furlough of about 100 workers.” The plant employed about 500 workers by then.

The inevitable came as 1981 dawned. On Jan. 27, 1981, the News reported that a Clark official confirmed it would “suspend operation of its Lima crane plant around July 1.”

The South Main Street complex, which for a half century had turned out machines to clear rubble, was itself reduced to rubble in the late 1990s.

An operator uses a model 101 S-143 Lima Power Shovel Co. machine in this undated photo.
https://www.limaohio.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/54/2019/06/web1_101-S-143.jpgAn operator uses a model 101 S-143 Lima Power Shovel Co. machine in this undated photo. Courtesy of Allen County Historical Society
This undated photo shows a 1-yard, single-line gasoline shovel owned by Claycraft Mining & Brick Co., Columbus, built by the Lima Power Shovel Co.
https://www.limaohio.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/54/2019/06/web1_city001.jpgThis undated photo shows a 1-yard, single-line gasoline shovel owned by Claycraft Mining & Brick Co., Columbus, built by the Lima Power Shovel Co. Courtesy of Allen County Historical Society
This undated photo shows a model 101 working opposite the Ohio Theatre on West North Street, Lima. The model 101 dug 1 yard of earth at 1 mph.
https://www.limaohio.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/54/2019/06/web1_101-opp-Ohio-Theatre.jpgThis undated photo shows a model 101 working opposite the Ohio Theatre on West North Street, Lima. The model 101 dug 1 yard of earth at 1 mph. Courtesy of Allen County Historical Society
Al and Don Faurot with one of first Ohio Steam Shovels built at the Lima Steel Foundry, seen in the 200 block of South Cole Street. This photo is dated May 1928.
https://www.limaohio.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/54/2019/06/web1_1928-on-S-Cole-Faurot-Bros.jpgAl and Don Faurot with one of first Ohio Steam Shovels built at the Lima Steel Foundry, seen in the 200 block of South Cole Street. This photo is dated May 1928. Courtesy of Allen County Historical Society
George T. Wright was photographed in May 1928 in front of his 224 S. Cole St. home, with Len Faurot at right.
https://www.limaohio.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/54/2019/06/web1_1928-S-Cole-Geo-Wright.jpgGeorge T. Wright was photographed in May 1928 in front of his 224 S. Cole St. home, with Len Faurot at right. Courtesy of Allen County Historical Society
A 1-yard, single-line gasoline shovels owned by Claycraft Mining & Brick Co., Columbus, built by the Lima Power Shovel Co.
https://www.limaohio.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/54/2019/06/web1_city002.jpgA 1-yard, single-line gasoline shovels owned by Claycraft Mining & Brick Co., Columbus, built by the Lima Power Shovel Co. Courtesy of Allen County Historical Society
This undated photo shows a 1-yard, single-line gasoline shovel owned by Claycraft Mining & Brick Co., Columbus, built by the Lima Power Shovel Co.
https://www.limaohio.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/54/2019/06/web1_city006.jpgThis undated photo shows a 1-yard, single-line gasoline shovel owned by Claycraft Mining & Brick Co., Columbus, built by the Lima Power Shovel Co. Courtesy of Allen County Historical Society
This undated photo shows a 1-yard, single-line gasoline shovel owned by Claycraft Mining & Brick Co., Columbus, built by the Lima Power Shovel Co.
https://www.limaohio.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/54/2019/06/web1_city007.jpgThis undated photo shows a 1-yard, single-line gasoline shovel owned by Claycraft Mining & Brick Co., Columbus, built by the Lima Power Shovel Co. Courtesy of Allen County Historical Society
Officials at Lima Hamilton Corp. at an instructional luncheon Oct. 10, 1947, at the Argonne Hotel. From left: J.C. Coombe, J.J. Rowe, L.A. Larsen and Walter Rentschler.
https://www.limaohio.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/54/2019/06/web1_Larsen-et-al..jpgOfficials at Lima Hamilton Corp. at an instructional luncheon Oct. 10, 1947, at the Argonne Hotel. From left: J.C. Coombe, J.J. Rowe, L.A. Larsen and Walter Rentschler. Courtesy of Allen County Historical Society
Larsen
https://www.limaohio.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/54/2019/06/web1_Lewis-A-Larsen-1947.jpgLarsen Courtesy of Allen County Historical Society
This undated photo shows a 1-yard, single-line gasoline shovel owned by Claycraft Mining & Brick Co., Columbus, built by the Lima Power Shovel Co.
https://www.limaohio.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/54/2019/06/web1_cityoo4.jpgThis undated photo shows a 1-yard, single-line gasoline shovel owned by Claycraft Mining & Brick Co., Columbus, built by the Lima Power Shovel Co. Courtesy of Allen County Historical Society
A Lima Power Shovel Co. is used to move earth in this undated photo.
https://www.limaohio.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/54/2019/06/web1_Flowers002-2-.jpgA Lima Power Shovel Co. is used to move earth in this undated photo. Courtesy of Allen County Historical Society
An abandoned machine rusts.
https://www.limaohio.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/54/2019/06/web1_LONGS-crane-150167_471206972912195_997206447_n.jpgAn abandoned machine rusts. Courtesy of Allen County Historical Society
A Lima Power Shovel Co. is used to move earth in this undated photo.
https://www.limaohio.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/54/2019/06/web1_no-cab.jpgA Lima Power Shovel Co. is used to move earth in this undated photo. Courtesy of Allen County Historical Society
An order of five model 101 shovels loaded onto flatbed rail cars wait for delivery to Rodgers & Hagerty Contractors in NYC. The Loco Works is in the background.
https://www.limaohio.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/54/2019/06/web1_city008.jpgAn order of five model 101 shovels loaded onto flatbed rail cars wait for delivery to Rodgers & Hagerty Contractors in NYC. The Loco Works is in the background. Courtesy of Allen County Historical Society
A single line gasoline shovel moves earth in this undated photo.
https://www.limaohio.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/54/2019/06/web1_single-line-Copy.jpgA single line gasoline shovel moves earth in this undated photo. Courtesy of Allen County Historical Society

By Greg Hoersten

For The Lima News

SOURCE

This feature is a cooperative effort between the newspaper and the Allen County Museum and Historical Society.

Reach Greg Hoersten at info@limanews.com.

Reach Greg Hoersten at info@limanews.com.

Post navigation