Steam Traction: The Aultman & Taylor Company

The 14th installment of Dr. Lorin E. Bixler's history of the Aultman & Taylor Company appeared in Steam Traction.

| January/February 2003

Dr. Bixler, a professor at Muskingum College in New Concord, Ohio, passed away before he could publish the manuscript to which he had devoted considerable energy. Several manuscripts belonging to Dr. Bixler are in the Sherman Room of the Mansfield/Richland County Public Library in Mansfield, Ohio.

Advertising was one of the most important elements in the marketing of Aultman & Taylor machinery. The officials of the company were imaginative and aggressive in devising new methods by which the public and particularly farmers and threshermen were made aware of the company's products. The United States mail was the chief avenue for the distribution of advertising materials. Much of the firm's promotional literature was handed out at the fairs and expositions where Aultman & Taylor machinery was exhibited. Along with advertising, the company developed a program of public relations designed to build good will, and nothing was left undone to achieve that end. In addition, it will be of interest to describe several of the firm's more dramatic means of advertising; one of these was referred to as the 'Royal Train.'

The Royal Train

One of the gimmicks used by a number of companies to call attention to their machinery was a special train loaded with equipment. It is not altogether clear as to which company began the use of such trains, but J.I. Case and Avery were among the foremost.1 Nevertheless, the Aultman & Taylor people laid claim to being the originators of the special train, for it was in 1874 that they shipped 76 threshers to Kansas. They were also the first company to ship a trainload of machinery to a foreign country. During 1891 they shipped a train filled with equipment to Mexico, a distance of 3,200 miles.

The special trains had many of the earmarks of a circus and were a unique and dramatic means of making products known to farmers and threshermen.

Perhaps it is within the realm of possibility to join the crowd of people along the railroad tracks in Mansfield and to enter vicariously into the experience of a day when a train of 30 cars loaded with Aultman & Taylor machinery pulled out of the yards. Even to this day there are a few of those living who in a nostalgic mood recall the experience of seeing that train and sensing the high emotion that prevailed among the thousands of people who witnessed it on that May morning of 1892. It was the kind of experience that was never forgotten.

On Sunday, May 8, several thousand people visited the Union Depot in Mansfield to inspect the Aultman & Taylor Machinery Company's train of machinery that was destined for the far West. For many days workmen had been busy loading the equipment on the cars. The train extended back to the Fourth Street crossing in Mansfield, from which point the train began its long journey.

This special train left the company yard at 8 o'clock on Monday morning, May 9, loaded with threshing machines, horsepowers, engines, water tanks, swinging stackers, etc., bound for Omaha, Neb. Shipments of this kind were no longer a novelty, but there was one departure in the case of this train. An engine and separator were belted up and in full operation in charge of James Boles, a machine expert. The equipment was valued at $90,000. The train was decorated with bunting and flags.