Swords Bros. Photographers, 25 W. Market Street, label on group photo of hundreds of York Manufacturing Company employees. (Source: Collection of York County History Center, 834.811P)
York Manufacturing Company employees and A-Frame Compressor
The York County History Center Collection contains a neat group photo of hundreds of York Manufacturing Company employees; which was tentatively dated circa 1895. On the back is a label for Swords Bros. Photographers, 25 West Market Street, York, PA. This post pinpoints February 3rd, 1902, as the date the photo was taken and provides the backstory.
The circa 1895 date never made sense to me, because at that time the number of employees of the York Manufacturing Company numbered 50 or fewer, depending upon the source. The Swords Bros. Photographers being located at 25 W. Market Street does bracket the time frame from 1892 to 1902; per page 78 of South Central Pennsylvania Genealogical Society’s Special Publication No. 56, “York Area Photographers, 1840-1997.”
It appears Swords Bros. processed the photo and mounted it on the now well-worn photo-mounting mat:
An article in The York Daily of February 4, 1902 provided details to date the photo and offered the backstory. Quoting the entire article, entitled:
“Many More See the Big Ice Machine”
“Owing to the inability of the York Manufacturing Company to procure a sufficient number of cars to transport the huge 500-ton ice machine to Chicago, its destination, the works were thrown open again last evening to allow the public another chance to see the machine, which is the largest of the kind in the world. There was a stream of visitors entering the building all evening, and the fact that many of the machines were in operation made the visit doubly interesting. Those who had not the good fortune to see the machine can form an idea of its magnitude from its dimensions: It is 34-feet long, 20-feet wide and 29-feet 1-inch high, with 625 horsepower and weighs 450 tons. The smallest refrigerating machines they make are four tons.”
“At 12 o’clock noon yesterday [Monday February 3, 1902] the employees of the establishment, 705 in number, were assembled in front of the machine with Superintendent Thomas Shipley in the center and a photograph was taken by Mr. Robert Spangler, one of the employees. He also took a picture of the machine alone. Both pictures are fine. The work of taking the machine apart will be commenced today.”
Matching like areas of the surroundings and the A-frame compressor to those in similar photos in the York County History Center Collection was used to identify the picture of the machine alone. It appears they were donated at the same time, since they are cataloged sequentially.
A prior article, in The York Daily of Monday February 3, 1902, provides additional facts about this A-Frame ice machine and the open house held on Saturday and Sunday: Between 2,000 and 2,500 people visited York Manufacturing Company’s plant to view the 500-ton ice machine just completed for the Anglo-American Packing Company, of Chicago, Illinois. In the number were many ladies, who had their first opportunity of visiting the interior of a machine shop.
Arrival of Thomas Shipley and his “Standard” York Machine
At 10:15 on the morning of November 1, 1897, Thomas Shipley arrived in York to assume the general management of the York Manufacturing Company. One of Shipley’s top priorities was the immediate design of a “new style” of single acting ice machine, to his specifications; which would be the “Standard” for the whole size range of York Machines. The design details selected generally scaled, and an A-Frame arrangement of vertical compressors and horizontal engines was the preference.
In the eight years since the natural ice glut of 1890, ice machine shipments from the York Manufacturing Company were relatively flat, averaging 12 St. Clair design “old style” ice machines per year. In 1897, one of the “new style” ice machines was designed and delivered in the two months prior to years end; along with 13 “old style” ice machines throughout 1897. Starting in 1898, only “new style” ice machines were offered; 34 were delivered during 1898. The shipments of “new style” ice machines continually climbed; reaching 137 ice machines delivered during 1905 and 701 ice machines delivered during 1913.
A rendering of the 500-ton refrigerating capacity ice machine appeared in the 1901 Catalog of the York Manufacturing Company, which featured illustrations of only a few sizes and engine configurations of the “new style” of single acting ice machines. For example, one can compare the photo of the 500-ton ice machine shipped in February of 1902, with the following rendering, via a different view-point, in the 1901 catalog.
The 250-ton refrigerating capacity A-Frame ice machine of the York County History Center is not one of the machines selected for rendering within the 1901 Catalog. Bracketing the 250-ton size are ice machine illustrations for 225-ton and 300-ton refrigeration capacity sizes. The 225-ton ice machine is shown with a single Corliss steam engine, and the 300-ton ice machine is shown with tandem Corliss steam engines. Thus it appears the History Center’s 250-ton A-Frame ice machine might be the smallest ice machine that York Manufacturing Company offered with cross-compound Corliss steam engines.
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Links to related posts include:Reading the Headlines: A Quick Index to All YorksPast Posts