YorksPast

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Manufacturing Archives

Dan Trimmer inquired about a story often shared by an uncle; who, while working at the York Motor Company in 1929, claimed to have repaired a flat tire on the car of Henry Ford. Newspaper reports do place Henry Ford in York County, Pennsylvania, on June 7, 1929; where he visited several places, including the York Motor Company. In June of 1929, Henry Ford was on an automobile journey across Pennsylvania; from east to west, primarily on the Lincoln Highway.

Within the collections of the York County History Center are a few photos and a much larger group of negatives of a previously unidentified product of the S. Morgan Smith Company. The introductory photo is one component of that unidentified product; it shows S. Morgan Smith Company machinists inspecting a large rotor core being finished on their 42-foot boring mill. This post provides the sources that identify the overall product as a massive axial-flow air compressor; a key component in a Supersonic Wind Tunnel, which was one of NASA’s earliest development facilities.

Thirty years before President Ronald Reagan visited the Harley-Davidson Motorcycle plant in Springettsbury Township, York County, PA, he visited the General Electric plant in York, PA; then as director-producer-and host of the “General Electric Theater” television program and President of the Screen Actors Guild.

The S. Morgan Smith Company, in York, Pennsylvania, was a prime contractor for manufacturing hydraulic-pneumatic catapults for launching Navy planes from the decks of aircraft carriers during World War 2. The catapult model, they produced, was capable of reliably launching 9,500-pound airplanes in 73-feet to a speed of 61 knots. Praise for manufacturing the catapult very much dominated the presentation of the Army-Navy “E” Award this company received on August 19, 1944.

Innovations of the S. Morgan Smith Company focuses on technological advances coupled with the history of the company and its successors during the Twentieth Century. As a companion to the excellent book “Re-Inventing The Wheel. The Incredible Story of S. Morgan Smith, Minister, Inventor, Industrialist,” by Stephen Nicholas, with Terry Downs, this Innovations Lecture shares stories and facts about the S. Morgan Smith Company that are not common knowledge.

William S. Shipley is known for his leadership in the “York Plan” and for being the national spokesman for that defense production plan during World War II; however he also provided astute leadership during York Ice Machinery Corporation’s transition from Ice Making to Air Conditioning during the 1930s. William S. Shipley succeeded his older brother Thomas Shipley as president of Yorkco in 1930.

Robert Fraser would like to share experiences operating a vintage ice cream freezer with others still using 1930s freezers manufactured by YORK Ice Machinery Corporation. Robert’s grandfather, Hans Erikson, Jr., took delivery of a YORK freezer in 1937; when he started the ice cream business at his dairy. That freezer is still used at Erikson’s Ice Cream Stand in Maynard, Massachusetts; because it makes better ice cream, compared to that made in modern freezers.

Robert Fraser submitted photos of a 1937 Batch Ice Cream Freezer, which was manufactured by YORK Ice Machinery Corporation, at their plant in Canton, Ohio. The freezer is still used at Erikson’s Ice Cream Stand in Maynard, Massachusetts; because it makes better ice cream, compared to that made in modern freezers. Robert’s submission was the tipping point in writing about the Canton Plant; which became YORK’s third major manufacturing facility in 1927.

Joe Spagnolo shared some fascinating early history about the 1960s Wagner’s Diner, located along the Lincoln Highway, east of Hellam. A 1963 publication contains a photo of the downstairs bar, with the caption: “Wagner’s Saloon, run by John Wagner in Hellam, Pa., is the home of the country’s first Noggin Club.” These clubs quickly spread across North America. They owed their name and popularity to characteristics of Noggin beer mugs, produced with the proprietary, aluminum-based alloy metal, Armetale, developed in 1963 by Ralph P. (Bud) Wilton, Jr.

The locations of Mary Ann Furnace, Mary Ann Furnace Speedway and a mystery site, possibly connected to Mary Ann Forge, are examined in this post. All locations are presently within the southwest end of Codorus State Park, about three miles southeast of Hanover. Mary Ann Furnace was the first cold-blast iron furnace west of the Susquehanna River. The furnace started operating 1761-62; three years before the startup of Codorus Furnace, located in Hellam Township. Different Signers of the Declaration of Independence were owners of these two furnaces, which produced munitions during the Revolutionary War.