Blymyer Iron Works

Cincinnati Firm Built Numerous Steam Engines


| November 2005



BlymyerIronWorks.jpg

A stylized depiction of the Blymyer Iron Works in the 1870s.

One of the striking features of America on the eve of the Civil War was the number of companies manufacturing steam engines for agricultural purposes. Cincinnati offers a case in point. I have already outlined the history of Miles Greenwood and his justly famous Eagle Iron Works in my article entitled "When Steam was King … and Cincinnati was Queen," Iron-Men Album, January/February 1996. In that same story, I covered Lane & Bodley, well-known successor to Reynolds, Kite & Tatum. It is important to recognize the 10 other Cincinnati concerns - all but one of them fleeting - that built engines with applications to agriculture:

THE FIRST NINE

1. Around 1849, James Todd started a foundry and machine shop. A decade later, Todd's advertisements in city directories mentioned portable corn and flouring mills, steam engines, and other machines. A year or two after the close of the War Between the States, Todd's business ended.

2-4. In 1856, steam engines were produced in the Columbia foundry of J.H. Burrows & Co., David Griffey's Fayette Works and Lee & Leavitt's sawmill factory. All three firms disappeared after that year.

5. Beginning in 1856, the firm of George D. Winchell & Brother built steam pumps, pipe, fittings, brass valves, couplings, nozzles and rubber hoses. Winchell's advertisements in city directories included stationary and portable engines, and boilers. In 1863, the hydraulic works of Charles C. Winchell replaced the earlier firm. In 1865, Charles C. Winchell listed portable and stationary engines. There were no Winchell advertisements after that year.

6. In 1858, Captain Oliver Palmer, associated with F. Calligan & Co. in Buffalo, N.Y., joined Captain David Millard in Cincinnati to publish a catalog proclaiming the advantages of Palmer's rotary, hydraulic, lifting and forcing pump. The year before, Palmer had won the New York State Agricultural Society silver medal for his hydraulic force-pump. In 1860, Palmer formed the Palmer Pump Co. at the corner of the Miami Canal and Third Street; he advertised portable engines in 5, 6 and 8 HP. By 1862, Palmer's manufactory had faded from view in the Cincinnati city directories.

7. The British American Guide Book, published in New York in 1859, included an advertisement for Cincinnati's W.W. Hamer & Co., which furnished portable and stationary engines, as well as saws, corn and feed mills, corn shellers, grain scales, and flour packers.