1880s

IMG_4922
The Iron Mountain Trail was originally known as the Ore Road.  In 1880 a narrow gauge railway was installed on the road to haul ore from the mine to the furnace.

 

Jan. 25, 1880, The Daily Intelligencer (Seattle) p3

A NEW ACHIEVEMENT FOR OREGON.—Mr. Frank Payne of East Portland, finished this week the first car wheel ever made on the northwest coast. He has been at work more than a month with experiments in chilling iron and has been rewarded with complete success. To test the wheel it was broken into three pieces, and was found to have a uniform chilled edge five-eighths of an inch deep, and hard enough to resist the hardest cold chisels and hammers. The tread is perfect, and the wheel will compare favorably with any of Eastern manufacture. It was cast from iron from the Oswego works and is entirely an Oregon production. The foregoing, heading and all, is from the Oregonian. Seattle claims to be on the northwest coast, and if admitted to be the Oregonian’s statement is erroneous. Scarcely a week goes by in which more or less car wheels are not made here and in all several hundred, if not thousands, have been made here in the past four years.

 

March 8, 1880, Oregonian p4

Oswego Iron Co. –NOTICE TO CONTRACTORS.–Proposals for Ties.

  • 4000 Ties of Red or Yellow Fir, six (6) inches thick, eight (8) inches face, six (6) feet long
  • 4000 Ties of Red and Yellow Fir, six (6) inches thick, seven (7) inches face, six (6) feet long.

These ties are to be delivered along the Ore Road from the Furnace to the Ore Mine on or before May 1, 1880. Bids will be received at the Company’s office at Oswego up to March 15, 1880. The right to reject any or all bids is reserved.  M. CRICHTON, Supt.

 

March 17, 1880, Oregonian p3

A MUCH NEEDED IMPROVEMENT.

The Oswego Iron Company Propose to [construct] a narrow Gauge Road from the Furnace to the Ore Beds—Contract for Ties [?]- Rolling Stock Ordered—Route Located.

Mr. C. W. Burrage, the county surveyor, has been engaged for several days past in locating the most practicable route for a narrow gauge railroad, or, more properly speaking, a tramway, which is shortly to be constructed by the Oswego Iron Company. The purpose is to build a road from the furnace to the beds, over which the iron ore can be transported. The distance, according to Mr. Burrage’s survey, is 2 5/8 miles.

One of the greatest difficulties to overcome is the grade. From the furnace to the ore beds the ascent is gradual, so that within the distance an altitude of about 325 feet is attained. This grade is certainly heavy, but one advantage to be considered is, that the ore will be transported down hill. The train will bring the load down grade and return empty. In one place the grade will reach 200 feet to the mile. There will also be a number of very sharp curves toward the end of the road next to the ore bed. For three-quarters of a mile of the bed the road will be constructed along the face of a rocky bluff, and the curves cannot be avoided. There will be but few cuts and [illegible] along the proposed route, none exceeding in hight 10 feet.

The contract for grading will probably be let in a few days, when work will commence in earnest and be crowded forward to an early completion. About midway between the furnace and ore beds great quantities of timber have fallen—blown down by the recent wind storm. The removal of the timber will cause some delay to the work of grading. It is the intention of the company to utilize the timber by cutting it up and converting it into charcoal—an article very essential to carry on the smelting process.

Already the contract for getting out the necessary ties has been let. Mr. Le’evre has been awarded the contract. At first the company estimated that it would require 8000 ties; but since Mr. Burrage has surveyed the route, it has been found that 7000 ties will be sufficient.

Some time ago the iron rails were ordered in San Francisco and are now being rolled at the mills. Six ore cars have also been ordered and are being built at San Francisco. A ten ton locomotive is on the way from the east, which will furnish the propelling power. Locomotive, rails and cars are all expected to arrive here on or before the 1st of May. By that time the ties will be cut and the necessary grading completed, so that track laying can proceed without delay. It is expected to have the road in operation by the 1st of June. The road will be three feet in width.

The construction of this road will be of great benefit to the company. Ever since the works have been in operation the ore has been hauled by teams to the furnace. As the ore could be transported during the winter months only with much difficulty and expense, the company was compelled to have enough taken out and hauled in the dry season to keep the furnace supplied during the remainder of the year. When the proposed road is built and in operation, ore can be transported at any season without reference to the condition of the weather.

 

1888 view from Iron Mtn
View from the Prosser Mine on Iron Mountain.  Mt. Hood and Sucker Lake are in the distance.  Detail from a Supplement to the West shore (August 1888).

March 18, 1880, The New Northwest (Portland)

The Oswego Iron Company will construct a narrow-gauge railroad from the ore beds to the furnace. The route is located, the rolling stock ordered, and the contract for ties let.

 

March 30, 1880, Oregonian

THE OSWEGO RAILWAY.—Grading for the new narrow gauge railway, which is to be constructed by the Oswego Iron Company between the furnace and ore bed, has commenced, and the work will be crowded forward to an early completion. Mr. Pomeroy has the contract for grading the first three-quarters of a mile of the western end of the road, and George Prosser the remainder of the distance. A large force of choppers is engaged in cutting ties, and the necessary number (about 7000) will be ready in the course of a few weeks. When the grading is completed the work of laying ties will commence, to be followed by the rails.

 

May 31, 1880, Oregonian p3

ENGINE FOR THE IRON WORKS RAILWAY.—The Elder brought up a ten ton locomotive for the new railroad of the Oswego Iron Works. It was unloaded on the east side and will be taken up the river in a day or two.

 

July 24, 1880, Sacramento Daily Union

Oregon.  Three men, named Scott, Bronley and Sanborne, while working at the Oswego Iron Works, six miles above Portland, met with a very severe accident this morning. They were engaged in shoveling coal into the furnace, when the stack [i.e. the “stock” consisting of charcoal, ore, and lime] slipped in, the stack [stock] falling about five feet, forcing the coals and flames out upon the men. Sanborne was horribly burned, his entire body being blackened by the flames and the skin peeled off. His recovery is deemed very doubtful. Scott and Bronley are both severely burned about the face and hands. How the men escaped with their lives is astonishing. Assistance came speedily and the men were rescued.

 

July 27, 1880, Sacramento Daily Record-Union p2

Died of His Injuries — C. Sanborne, who was dangerously burned at the Oswego Iron Works a few days ago, died to-night of his injuries at Samartim [sic].

 

Nov. 9, 1880, Oregonian p6

GETTING ALONG WELL.—Sanborne, Scott and Bronley, the three men who were injured by the explosion at the Oswego Iron Works on Friday morning, are reported in a favorable condition. Sanborne, who it was thought had inhaled some of the gas, is found not to have done so, and although severely burned, will soon recover. He is at the Good Samaritan Hospital in this city.

 

Feb. 3, 1881, Daily Astorian

Last week 154 tons of ore was turned out at the Oswego iron furnace. This is the largest output for any week since the furnace was built.

 

Feb. 10, 1881, Vancouver Independent (Vancouver, W. T.) p1

Lister & Co., of New Tacoma are preparing to increase the capacity of their iron works at that place. They now have at work in their foundry and machine shops twenty men on full time, need six or eight additional moulders, and have orders from the railroad company for castings for 250 cars, which will amount in all to 300 tons. There are now in their yard 150 tons of Oswego pig iron, and 200 tons more ordered and on the way here. Also, 30 tons of Scotch pig iron, ordered from San Francisco. During the time they are at work on this contract of car castings, they will, judging from the past, do repair work for the company which will require about 150 tons of castings.

 

March 7, 1881, Daily Alta California

A consignment of pig-iron has reached this city from Port Townsend. The metal comes from the smelting furnace of the Puget Sound Iron Company, incorporated in 1879, its object being the mining and smelting of ores in that vicinity—chiefly the Chimacum iron ore. San Francisco capitalists were prevailed upon to furnish the needed finances for the construction of the works at Port Townsend Bay—work upon which was begun in April last under the superintendence of D. W. Moore, a practical iron-manufacturer. An exceptionally good furnace has been constructed under the charge of Fitzgerald, of San Francisco, who is a practical furnace-builder of many years’ experience. The furnace is forty feet high, with a capacity of from fifteen to twenty tons of pig-iron daily. The company have a new Weimer blower engine, right from the Weimer Machine Works, Lebanon, Ps. The hot blast is used. Upward of 70,000 bushels of charcoal and 1000 tons of iron ore from the company’s mine are down at the works. The result is expected to be entirely satisfactory. Tests of this iron have already been made at the works of Lister & Co., New Tacoma, the results of which are thus stated in the Ledger of that town:

The first run consisted of three parts of Irondale pig to two parts of Scotch, the result being a very soft but solid and fine-grained casting. The second run was composed of four parts of Irondale pig to one of Scotch, the result again being very solid fine-grained, but a little short. In the third run the admixture was of Oregon pig, in the proportion of one part to four parts of Irondale. The castings were a little hard, was found to chill good, but to be too brittle for car-wheels. Lister & Co. pronounce it a good iron for general castings, and are of the opinion that it will make good wrought-iron and steel. Also, that “when the furnace has been in operation for two weeks it will make splendid iron.” A test of 4000 pound of the first run of the furnace has also been made at the foundry in Seattle, from which the report appears to be highly satisfactory, the proprietors of that foundry stating that “it runs good, clear iron, and makes strong work.” The pig iron here tested was the first product of the new furnace, the raw material being 80 per cent. Of bog ore, taken from the mine near where the furnace is located, and 20 per cent. Texada magnetic ore. This bog ore runs 60 per cent. of pure metallic iron. This is understood to be cold blast iron, the fuel being charcoal. With added furnace capacity for 20,000 tons per annum, which may assuredly be supplied by the abundant means of the gentlemen interested at Irondale, costing probably not more than $70,000, the annual net profits of their enterprise would reach a large sum, more than reimbursing the entire amount of outlay from the earnings of one year. The probability is, especially since this recent and encouraging experiment has been made, that during the coming Summer there will be considerable activity shown in the matter of prospecting for iron and arranging for other ventures of a like kind.

The estimated cost of manufacturing one ton of this iron is $18.25, and it is thought that this may be reduced after better facilities are secured and experience is gained in handling and manipulating the ores. Considering the price of iron here, this leaves a fair margin of profit. There are now on this Coast three iron smelting furnaces—at Oswego, Oregon; Clipper Gap, California; and Irondale, near Port Townsend, Washington Territory. The importance of this industry to San Francisco has already been treated of in these columns.

 

April 8, 1881, Willamette Farmer

The Oswego Iron Works are still in full blast, having made since their last start up, over 5,200 tons of iron –2,240 pounds to the ton—and they will continue to run until the hearth becomes burnt out, which will allow them to make about the same quantity yet.

 

June 12, 1881, The Daily Intelligencer (Seattle) p3

The Oswego Iron works are making 20 to 22 tons of iron every 24 hours.

 

859a
The Oswego iron works, c. 1881.  Photo courtesy of the Lake Oswego Public Library.

June 27, 1881, Oregonian p3

City.  THE UNION PICNIC.—Saturday the Presbyterian and the Congregational Sunday schools enjoyed a very pleasant day in the beautiful White House grounds. At half-past two the party were taken aboard the A. A. McCully and carried to the Oswego Iron Works. The company had kindly arranged to have a blast prepared when the excursionists arrived and soon after the boat landed a hundred bars of iron were cast, much to the delight of all present. The boat then steamed to Oregon City, ran within a very short distance of the main falls, and then returned, reaching here about 6 o’clock.

 

Sept. 2, 1881, Oregonian p1

THE NORTHWEST.  Western Oregon. –The Oswego Iron Co. intend shutting down some time next week for the purpose of putting in a new hearth, the old one having burned out. This is an expensive repair, as the huge stones have to be brought from Ohio, and cost in the neighborhood of $1000.

 

Sept. 10, 1881, Eugene City Guard

The Oswego Iron Co. intends shutting down some time next week for the purpose of putting in a new hearth, the old one having burned out. This is an extensive repair, as the huge stones have to be brought from Ohio, and cost in the neighborhood of $1,000.

 

Sept. 16, 1881, State Rights Democrat (Albany, OR) p2

PACIFIC COASTERS

I. W. Anderson, of Tacoma, has a contract to deliver 1300 tons of Tacoma lime to the Oswego Iron Company. So far in 1881, 15,000 barrels of lime have been shipped from Mr. Anderson’s works to Portland for building purposes, and the quantity will be increased to 18,000 barrels before the first of January next.

 

Oct. 1, 1881, Eugene City Guard

It is estimated that 27,000 cords of wood have been used this year in burning charcoal for the Oswego iron works. About 160 chinamen are regularly employed in cutting and burning the wood and 30 white men are engaged in hauling it.

 

Jan. 3, 1882, Daily Alta California (San Francisco)

The Pig Iron Trade. — We are indebted to J. W. Harrison, metal broker, for the following report for 1881:

The past year has not been a very profitable one to importers, partially because the quantity imported has been so much less than preceding years, and partially because the selling price has favored the buyers during the first eight months of the year. The price of Glengarnock in January last was $17@28; from April to August it ruled from $25@26; in September it advanced to $28; now it is held at $30 spot, and $26 50 present loading. It would appear singular that the quantity of foreign iron imported should be so light, in view of the consumption being so large—nearly 3500 tons over last year’s. Still this is explained by the fact that the Clipper Gap furnaces in Placer County, and the Oswego Company’s furnaces in Oregon combinedly were expected to yield more than the consumption of California, which had averaged 14,400 tons per annum for the preceding five years. In addition to this we commenced the year 1881 with nearly 15,000 tons on hand, so importers, from prudential reasons withheld ordering. It having been since ascertained that a certain quantity of Soft Scotch is absolutely required to mix with our local product, orders have been more freely given and there is at this time more Scotch iron in route than at this time last year.

Iron products ads

March 10, 1882, Willamette Farmer

Agricultural Implements

If there is any one thing that the Oregon farmer should take pains to encourage, it is home industry. If there is one thing more than another, in the line of manufactures, that it is possible to make at home, it is agricultural machinery, for we have the timber of home growth to work and the iron furnace at Oswego turns out iron equal to the best Swede or Norway metal. The importations of plows, wagons, harvesters, seeders and threshers from the East amount to millions of dollars annually, and employ thousands of workmen who support families and enrich their respective States. We should then do all we can to encourage the manufacture of all things that can be made at home, for the presence of workmen who carry on factories creates a home demand for agricultural products and encourages other branches of industry as well.

 

April 25, 1882, Seattle Daily Post-Intelligencer p1

PACIFIC COAST — Prospective Rolling Mills

Incorporators of the Rolling Mill Company, organized last Saturday with a capital of $3,000,000 refuse to state what their future movements will be. It is generally believed that Mr. Villard and associates are backing the enterprise. This is in accordance with Villard’s speech to the Board of Trade last October. The Oswego Iron Works within the past three months have purchased 2000 acres of land in the vicinity of their works. This land contains the best iron ore in Multnomah and Washington counties. It is understood that this land has been bonded to Villard, and that the construction of extensive rolling mills will soon be commenced.

 

May 13, 1882, Eugene City Guard

Dan Montour, the engineer of the Oswego Iron Works, was painfully but not seriously injured last week by falling from a platform up near the hot blasts pipes, which compelled him to keep his room for several days.

 

May 22, 1882, Sacramento Daily Record-Union

A tract of 320 acres, four miles south of Portland, Or., has been purchased by a stock company for the site of several industries. A city hardware firm will erect a large establishment for the manufacture of hardware and agriculture implements, and a town site is laid out. Other enterprises will also be located there, and the whole connected with the Oswego Iron Works by a narrow-gauge road.

 

July 15, 1882, Eugene City Guard

One hundred and fifty men are employed in burning coal for the Oswego Iron Works: They burn 50 loads per day averaging 200 bushels to the load, to do which takes 200 cords of wood. The daily output of iron is 18 to 20 tons. Over 4000 tons have been made on the present hearth.

 

Oct. 13, 1882, Willamette Farmer

THE MECHANICS’ FAIR AT PORTLAND

The Oswego Iron Works have a display of their pig iron, which is of superior quality, equal to best Norway iron. This iron is so tough that years ago the Central Pacific Railroad ordered a certain proportion of Oregon iron to be used in their car wheels. We have great iron works and machine shops here in Portland, and as the country grows, these works increase in importance and create a demand for Oregon iron. It is interesting to see there, also, a display of Oregon made stoves, for in this line of iron working our home foundries excel and have all they can do. Stove works have been in successful operation in several Oregon towns, as well as in Portland, Our iron mines, being close to Portland, must lead to very extensive iron working in the near future.

 

Engraving of O.I.&S. iron works
Oregon Iron & Steel Company letterhead.  Courtesy of Norm Gholston.

 

Oct. 29, 1882, Oregonian p1

OREGON’S IRON AGE.– Oswego to Become the Pittsburg of the Far West. — CAN WE BUILD IRON SHIPS — “Sim” Reed’s mission in New York and What is Likely to Come of it—A Big Thing for Oregon

In the Daily Oregonian of Friday we gave a brief synopsis of a business transaction which, in the writer’s belief is destined to accomplish more good for Oregon than any movement inaugurated in the past six years, if we except the resumption of work on the Northern Pacific railroad. We allude to the incorporation of the Oregon Iron and Steel Company, with a gross capital of $3,000,000, divided into shared of $100 par value. The directors are S. G. Reed, W. M. Ladd, E. W. Creighton, F. C. Smith and C. R. Donohue, with S. G. Reed as president and Thomas P. Burns as secretary. The new company has bought all the property of the old Oswego Iron Works, including the furnaces, narrow gauge railroad canal connecting it with the Tualatin river, and 21,037 acres of land. The canal furnishes abundance of water power so that no steam fixtures are necessary to operate the rolling mills; in addition to which it affords navigation for scows to bring charcoal down the Tualatin river to the very doors of the furnace. The frontage is on the Willamette river, six miles south of Portland, and any vessel which can load at Portland can take in her cargo at the iron works.

THE EXTENT OF THE DEPOSITS

Of iron ore can be traced for a distance of nine miles by the croppings, and competent judges estimate that it will require an output of one hundred tons daily (Sundays excepted) for thirty-six years, before the deposit would be exhausted. At all the rolling mills in Pennsylvania pig iron costs them from $24 to $27 per ton, according to quality. Here, the ore can be laid down in the furnace at a rate of $1.80 per ton, and this would bring the cost of the iron, in pigs, to something like $8 per ton. Herein lies the first great advantage the new company would have over the San Francisco rolling mills which work mostly upon scrap iron that has already been worked over before, and, as a natural consequence, lost much of its substance and ductility. Again, the only iron mines yet discovered in California are of inferior quality to that found in Oregon and Washington territory; hence, whenever the market becomes dull, and prices range low, the Oregon iron would command the readiest sale on account of it superior quality.

THE GRADE OF ORE

Is hematite, being largely magnetic in its character and working up into smoother shape than any other ore yet found in America. It works up into bar iron of smooth face and as free from splinters on the edges as the very best Norway shoe-shape. In 1872, forty tons of Oswego pig were shipped to San Francisco, worked into bar iron and shoe-shape, at the Pacific Rolling Mills in that city, and then shipped back to Portland for sale. The wholesale hardware house to which the new iron came consigned, had the greatest difficulty in introducing it to the trade. The local shops were very conservative, and did not like the experiment, but finally a complete test was made which led to its cordial endorsement by the trade as being truly equal to the very best Swedes. Since then various [illegible] have conspired against the Oswego iron, or it would have driven eastern iron out of this market. Chief among these obstacles was the want of capital, a great difficulty it is true, but one that is now happily overcome by the concentration of moneyed men first above named.

THE MANUFACTURE OF STOVES

Has been carried on here for nearly eleven years by the Oregon Stove Manufacturing Company, of which Messrs. Goldsmith & Lowenberg are the general agents. They make all their casting direct from the pig, and good judges tell us that the castings are cleaned and smoothed with less labor than those made in eastern foundries. I have one of their “Wide West” kitchen stoves, which has been in use for eight months. For the first three or four days it did not work well, but it was my own fault in not having the flues properly cleaned. Since then it has worked to a charm, and as I have never had a late or badly cooked meal from it, I would not exchange it for any stove that ever was cast in Troy or Albany. The castings are as smooth in their finish as the most fastidious house-keeper could desire; and when the growth of the trade demands more elaborate patterns, my belief it, that these works will rival the Troy foundries as easily in finish and ornamental work as they now equal them in all the requirement of practical housework.

IN OUR MACHINE SHOPS

The excellence of Oswego iron is so well known that it has long since kept down the price of the best Garisherrie and Glengarnock pig, which is brought hither as ballast by foreign ships seeking wheat charters for the United Kingdom. Our local foundries have been turning out good work from Oswego iron especially on steamboat castings, which require the greatest smoothness and density of grain. About two years ago, W. B. Cross, a noted machinist of California, who stands at the head of the high-pressure engineers in that state, paid Portland a visit and the writer went the rounds of the shops with him. His watchful eye was everywhere, but at last he said?

“Your foundries do better work in one respect than our San Francisco shops—they are a good deal more particular about cleaning their castings. Our San Francisco shops think they have got everything their own way and are getting careless.”

“Did you notice the quality of our iron?” I asked.

“I had not noticed it,” replied Mr. Cross. He went off and began to examine some work just out of the mold and said: “I see it all now. Your iron is of such quality that it requires

LITTLE OR NO LABOR

To clean the castings.” He walked into the lathe room where a new cylinder was being bored out, and caught up a splinter of the iron which he bent and broke. Then running his thumb over the smooth face of the part where the auger bitt had passed, he said: “That’s lovely iron.”

Other equally competent judges have given similar verdicts in favor of the Oswego iron and the next ten years will tell the story by the inexorable logic of dollars and cents. The prime movers in this project are willing to rest their case on its merits and do not fear any legitimate competition. They have inexhaustible deposits of ore, abundance of fuel with which to reduce it into the pig iron of commerce, water-power in the rear with which to propel machinery necessary in a rolling mill, and finally a good water frontage with which to load ships that will carry abroad their product to other ports in the Pacific. There is no doubt but if Oswego pig cold be laid down in Chester or Wilmington, it would readily command from $28 to $30 per ton. It would be

A COMMERCIAL [illegible]

If, by the monopoly created by the tariff laws, Oregon should yet live to make California tributary to her for the great staple of crude iron. California has long made us play the “second fiddle” to her in the exportation of wheat and salmon though we exceeded her in each of those stables. But Governor Stanford cannot afford to put a poor grade of iron rails into his roads when he can get a better quality for the same money, for bad rails make railroad accidents and Juries have but little sympathy with great corporations. Hence it is no vague dream, no visionary prediction, to assert that the day is not many years off when the California railroad shall be laid with Oregon iron. It takes costly machinery and long pay-rolls to accomplish it, but now that we see motivated men at the wheel, we begin to see it as a part of manifest destiny. Oregon’s gold deposits are nearly exhausted but her iron mines will soon prove a far greater source of wealth.

IRON SHIP BUILDING

On the Willamette will be the next question. It [seems] chimerical to talk about it, as compared with the Delaware, but no more so than it was eight years ago, to compare the Delaware with the Clyde. Here is a nut for your capitalists to crack. During the past nice years two shipyards on the Delaware—John Roach and William Cramp & Sons—have built iron steamships for trains in Pacific waters, aggregating a total value of four and a half million dollars. Those steamships must wear out if they do not get wrecked, and their places be supplied with others. They have been obliged to carry coal for voyages of seventy days’ duration before they could reach the ports where their carrying trade began. Build your Pacific coast steamship in Pacific waters and her voyage of profit begins at once. Cannot finish them off as elegantly for passenger trade as those built east, did you say? Did you ever see the cabins of the Western Shore or Tam O’Shanter? They show as fine joiner work as ever was done at Chester, certainly.

IRON SAILING VESSELS

Have not been built on the Delaware for obvious reasons. There is no profitable carrying trade between Atlantic and Pacific ports any longer. The railroad carries all the merchandise westward, and the eastern-bound grain cargoes must go to the united kingdom for market. In order to reach Portland or San Francisco and obtain a grain charter, your iron ship built at Chester would have to make a four months’ voyage in ballast. Add that expense to her [first] cost and your charter to the united kingdom will not, save in isolated instances, pay interest on the outlay. But build your iron ships on the Willamette and you can begin to get her cargo of wheat aboard before her spars are in place or her rigging is set up. In six months from the day the keel strikes the water she will be alongside the dock in Liverpool. Now, say the ship costs $100,000 and can carry 1800 tons at three pound per ton; here we have [$26,138] as her gross earning in half a year, which will leave not less,

AFTER DEDUCTING EXPENSES,

Including insurance, wages, stevedorage, towage and pilotage, than $20,000 as the net result of her voyage. This is getting money back faster than any railroad stock can pay it, and it is a great deal safer than investing in Nevada bonanzas. It is our belief that $100,000 would build a ship of 2000 tons, which would stock $20,000 as the result of her voyage, and clear 23 per cent upon her first trip. Now the question is, can we build these ships here at as low a cost as Mr. Roach could build them on the Delaware? Let us see wherein Mr. Roach as the advantage over us. He can get his skilled labor cheaper, of course; and he has the benefit of his experience in iron ship building, which enables him to handle large bodies of men to the greatest advantage. Against that, we show cheaper iron, cheaper spars and cheaper deck-plank. Add to these the advantage of immediate, lucrative employment for the ship as soon as launched, and Roach has

NONE THE BEST OF IT.

Beside, suppose the Northern Pacific railroad is done next year, Mr. Reed goes to Mr. Villard and says: “Look here, Villard, I want to take out two hundred men to work in a ship yard, and I [illegible] have extra low rates.”

Who doubts that he would get them? Then Reed can turn around and say to a crowd of skilled operatives just what we most need: “You come along out to Oregon with me on a stipulated contract for five years. Ten per cent of your wages shall be dedicated for your passage, each month, until that is paid. After that every dollar belongs to you. I will give you increased wages over what you get here just enough to pay that. I guarantee you five years of steady work, mild winters and cheap bread and meat. I guarantee you neat cottages, for $10 a month instead of the squalid tenements you now live in. You will see your children growing up about you in usefulness instead of becoming street Arabs. Will you come and help make this thing a success?”

NOT ONE MAN IN FIFTY

Could refuse such an offer. The desire to see one’s son grow up a more useful man than one’s self, is an underlying [illegible] in every man’s nature. Mr. Reed would have more applications than he could fill, and could well afford to give ten per cent advance over Wilmington or Chester wages for the sake of building ships with forty per cent reduction on spars and deck planks. In ten years Oregon Iron ships and steamers would whiten every sea with their canvass. The fact is that money is becoming plenty and interest must come down on real estate. Whenever money will not command ten per cent per annum ashore, then it will pay our best capitalists to build ships and educate their sons up to the learned profession of a navigator. Besides, we cannot always expect to be living off one another and acting the part of mercantile cannibals, as it were. We have

ENRICHED OTHER COMMUNITIES

Every day that we can afford to do so. We must produce something else beside these three [illegible] staples of wheat, beef and salmon. We must find some employment for our youth other than toiling in the harvest field under a semi-tropical sun, or delving with the axe in the gloomy fir woods. We must put the surplus capital into some new avenues of employment through which the daylight of industry has not yet begun to shine. We must open up the now dormant resources of Oregon, that we may invite more visiting capitalists and fewer “visiting statesmen.” And with “Sim” Red at the head of the enterprise we have no fear but he will be able to secure all the capital needed to make Oswego the Pittsburg of the Pacific coast. Mr. Reed came here a poor young man and has risen to his present opulence by thrift, energy and foresight. He has, ere this, seen the impossibility of making any more money in mining stocks, like he did in

THE GREAT CROWN POINT BUBBLE

Of 1860, when he cleared $270,000 in nine weeks’ time. He is looking now for lower raises of interest coupled with safe investments. In details of office work he never had a superior in this city, if anywhere else. And with him at the head of the new enterprise we are confident it will be pushed forward with the greatest possible speed. Weather permitting, a new blast furnace will be erected during the winter and work commenced on rolling mills by the first of March. Mr. Reed left here on Thursday night’s steamer to select the machinery needed for the new works. Mr. L. B. Seeley, whose discrete management and good business ability has so far made the Oswego works successful in some capacity, will be retained in the management of the new concern, which is to be run on strict business principles. The stock is at present in the hands of a few men and I have not yet heard of any being offered for sale here. It now remains to be seen whether the Oregon iron and steel company can turn out a better article of

RAILROAD IRON

Than the Pacific rolling mills of San Francisco. If they can, for the same money, not only all the roads in Oregon and Washington Territory will use Oswego rails, but Stanford and Crocker will feel obliged to use them for their California system of roads. When they wear down they can have them worked over at San Francisco. Ten year hence, Oswego pig iron will be a standard article of quotation in the commercial columns of every legitimate newspaper and that it will command the top figure no man can doubt who has seen its casting worked up under a malleable process. If Mr. Red gets the rolling mills at work by next July, he will inaugurate a new departure in Pacific coast manufactures and place Oregon on the high road toward industrial supremacy. We have the best manufacturing facilities of any one of the Pacific states and all we need is capital to develop them. It will not take long for Mr. Reed to stand the [egg] on its end.   M.

 

Nov. 3, 1882, State Rights Democrat (Albany, Or.)

Iron and Steel Works

The Oregon Iron and Steel Manufacturing Company, which was incorporated some time since, says the “Standard,” with a capital of $3,000,000, yesterday completed its organization by electing S. G. Reed president, and W. J. Burns secretary. The company has purchased a large tract of land, comprising some 40,000 acres, in the vicinity of Oswego, and will at once commence the erection of buildings. Mr. Reed left on the steamer last night for the east to purchase the necessary machinery for rolling mills, etc., and, as the company comprises some of our wealthiest and most enterprising citizens, we may soon expect to see extensive works in operation at, or near, Oswego.

 

Nov. 10, 1882, Corvallis Gazette p3

The Enterprise, of Oregon City, says: “The largest sale of land ever effected in Clackamas county was made last week by Mr. Al. Coolidge, to the Oregon iron company—some 3500 acres across the river for $39,000. The company now owns over 24,000 acres of land.”

 

Nov. 10, 1882, Willamette Farmer

ROLLING MILL AT OSWEGO

It seems that private capital, to a very large amount, is interested at the present time in developing the iron interests of our State. As a commencement, a purchase has been made of property at Oswego, eight miles from Portland, where a smelting furnace has been in operation for some years. Land to the extent of 50,000 acres in all has been acquired, giving the company control of vast beds of iron, timber land, and water privileges. The estate is immense in extent and the enterprise will be pushed with all the force great capital can impart. The intention is to not only manufacture pig iron from the ore, but to establish rolling mills capable of turning off immense quantities of material. Such works as this will initiate a business that must grow to vast proportions. Our mines must sometime be improved and the sooner the better. If we can satisfy the great demand for railroad iron that will hereafter exist on this side of the continent, by home manufacture, that will be a grand commencement for the manufacture of iron. It is in such respects that this portion of the Pacific Coast can and must excel the development of these natural resources will bring permanent prosperity and immense wealth, as it does in other States.

One great advantage of the Oswego location is that ships can load there as easily as at Portland. The ore beds have been traced nine miles; the metal is of superior quality, equal to best Norway iron; the ore is so easily got that iron can be made under most favorable circumstances, water power being abundant for the rolling mills. For years past the Central Pacific railroad has had its car wheels made of Oswego iron, because of its superior toughness and general good quality, for it is said to be superior to any ore hitherto found in North America. If a company had operated these mines with sufficient capital heretofore, no doubt great success would have followed. As it is, the iron has been shipping abroad in bars or pigs, and used at home for making stoves, and by our foundries and machine shops to such goo advantage that they have acquired a reputation for doing better work than San Francisco shops, the iron being of better quality than the imported iron, or iron from California mines, used in that city. The ore deposit extends through the range of hills back of Portland, and crops out again near the Columbia river near St. Helens.

The company that incorporates with S. G. Reed as President, has a nominal capital of $3,000,000 and should the business prosper with good management no doubt unlimited capital will stand ready to take hold of it. The result of possessing iron, coal, forests and limestone, all of which are necessary for the manufacture of iron, can hardly be appreciated by common minds. We may live to see the greatest industries known to man thrive and build up immense shops and factories close by us, employing large forces of laborers to be fed from on fields and gardens and generally to benefit the country by cheapening products of iron as well as furnishing a better home market for farm stuff. It is fully probable that iron ships may before long be built on Oregon rivers and on Puget Sound, where iron mines are also worked. Should iron manufacture prove really a success, we may look for such results as we do not dream of. Our State has turned out good wooden ships and iron ship building can easily follow. The products of the soil and general living expenses here are so reasonable that labor can easily compete with the East.

While iron manufacture could exist here to some extent without through railroad connection, yet such connection will secure the transportation of laborers in greater numbers and at reasonable cost, and will in every way a increase the probability of success in all such enterprises. We must have such facilities before we can reach any high condition as a manufacturing region. We predicate our highest hopes of future greatness and prominence on the fact that we possess natural resources to make manufacturing possible. In this respect we must take the lead over all other portions of the West Coast.

 

Nov. 22, 1882, Oregonian p2

The plan for improvement and enlargement of the Oswego Iron works involves the damming of the Tualatin river and the raising of its waters to such a height as will damage bottomland [fields?] in Washington county. The farmers of course object, and the company will either have to buy the privilege it wants or change its plans.

O. I. & S. ad dark

Jan. 26, 1883, Willamette Farmer p3

The Oregon Iron and Steel Company’s furnace at Oswego turned out last week, in seven days, 163 tons of pig iron, being an average of 23 ½ tons per day of twenty-four hours, almost one ton per hour. This is the best work ever done by this furnace.

 

Jan. 30, 1883, Sacramento Daily Record-Union

The Supreme Court of Oregon has decided in the case of J. L. Shaw against the Oswego Iron Company that the Tualatin river is not a navigable stream, and that the company had no right to improve its navigation. This puts a stop to extensive improvements of this stream, as contemplated by the Oswego Iron and Steel Company of Oswego. The iron company now intend to build a narrow-gauge railroad.

 

March 15, 1883, Ironton Review (Ironton, Ohio)

FIFTY EMIGRANTS FOR OREGON

Last December, Mr. T. R. WORTHINGTON came to this county to drum up laborers for the Oswego Iron Works, Oregon. Mr. WORTHINGTON is himself a collier, and in that capacity has been employed at the Oswego furnace for seven years past. The lack of labor has been his chief obstacle, so he concluded to come east for a supply. He is a son of Charles WORTHINGTON, and was raised in this region.

He mustered up about forty active men whose names we give below. They left on the Fleetwood, last Thursday evening, bound for Oregon under Mr. WORTHINGTON’S conduct. About twenty got on at Ironton, the same number at Hanging Rock, some at Union Landing and two at Portsmouth. Among the number, we noticed some of the farmer boys, from the bottom below the rock. The married men were accompanied by their wives and children. At the Rock, the departure was signalized by blasts of artillery. A great crowd gathered which cheered lustily, and were decidedly noise with their affectionate farewells.

The emigrants went to Cincinnati, then by the O. & M. to St. Louis, then to Texarkada and by the South Pacific via El Paso to San Francisco; then by ocean to Portland, from which place Oswego is eight miles distant. It will take two weeks to make the trip through tickets, $70. At El Paso, the emigrants take an emigrant train. A railroad agent goes through with them from Cincinnati to San Francisco, and sees them safe aboard a steamer at the latter place.

The following is a full list of the persons who were in the party:

James H. FITS, David DUNCAN, wife and three children, Andy HODGE, W. H. SWARIZ, Geo SMITH, Lewis SUTTON, O. E. BACKKUS, Wigon NIDS, wife and three children, John CARTER, A. WORTHINGTON, Mrs. DRYER and four children, Fred TULGA, Dan’l LYKINS and wife, P. BISCO, John LAMBERT, Mrs. THACKER, John FOX, Martin LODER, John LODER, Wm. WORTHINGTON, wife and five children, Thomas WORTHINGTON, John SHOPE, Frank ROSS, Chas. ROSS, Mary ROSS, Vick ROSS, Sam ROSS, Wm. RODGERS, Louisa HOFFMAN, Isaac AUSTIN, wife and child, Ed SESHER, J. P. SMITH, wife and seven children, P. NAGEL, Geo. WALLACE, wife and child, James KISER, wife and child, John DAVISSON and Sherman ROSS.  — Last Monday, the following persons also started for Oswego: John BALLES, and wife, Jas HASEY and wife and Henry SOWERS.

 

April 6, 1883, Corvallis Gazette p3

The Commercial Herald of Portland says: Seventy-two skilled iron workers from Pennsylvania have arrived during the week past and commenced work for the Oregon Iron & Steel Company at the Oswego mine. They have had cottages built near the works and will form the nucleus of a thriving settlement in that neighborhood.

 

April 8, 1883, Daily Colonist (Victoria, British Columbia)

The Oregon Iron and Steel Company of Albina, near Portland, are about to erect rolling mills. The iron used will be obtained at Oswego where there is an unlimited deposit. The company intend to construct a large iron ship and have her off the stocks in six months.

 

1883 Oswego map small
Oswego and vicinity in 1883.  Map S. Kuo.

April 13, 1883, Omaha Daily Bee p2

The Oregon Iron and Steel Company will greatly extend the facilities of the foundry lately purchased at Portland. Two new cupolas are being erected and a large amount of heavy machinery is on the way from New York. They will construct machinery for rolling mills. A site for the shipyards is to be chosen at once, and an iron ship 300 feet long will be commenced in a few months. A new furnace will be erected at the Oswego mines [2 ½ miles from the mines], with a capacity of 40 tons of pig iron a day. The company has a capital of $3,000,000, and inexhaustible mines of iron of the best quality.

 

May 9, 1883, Omaha Daily Bee p4

RAILROAD NOTES — The Oregon iron and steel company, of Portland, with a capital stock of $3,000,000, will employ 2,000 men, and is part of a system of internal improvements, under way and contemplated by Mr. Villard and his railroad company.

 

May 20, 1883, Daily Astorian p1

The blast furnace at Oswego “blew out” yesterday, and lacked only 180 tons of smelting 10,000 tons at the last “blow,” which is considered an extraordinary amount of work for one “blow.” Chinamen yesterday began the work of clearing ground for the new furnace to be put there. – Standard.

 

June 4, 1883, Sacramento Daily Record-Union

Oregon — Cordwood Burned.

Portland, June 3d.—Yesterday large quantities of cordwood a few miles above the city caught fire from burning timber and was totally destroyed. Over 3,000 cords was burned, and about $12,000 damage sustained by the Oswego Iron Works; partially insured.

 

40 & 52 Wilbur 3516
Iron company worker cottages in Oswego.  Photo courtesy of the Lake Oswego Public Library.

June 7, 1883, Sacramento Daily Union

Oregon — Cottage Homes for Employes

Portland, June 6th.—Orders have just been given by the Oswego Rolling Mills and Iron works to a leading architect of this city, to prepare plans for 500 cottage homes, which it is proposed to erect by the company the present season at that point. Oswego is located on the west side of the Willamette river, some seven miles above Portland. The Oregon Iron and Steel Company propose to construct soon immense rolling mills there, and employ a great number of operatives, who are expected to occupy in part these cottages. This improvement means the accession of at least 2,000 souls to the population of Oswego. The order will indicate the magnitude of the proposed enterprise.

 

June 16, 1883, Oregon Sentinel (Jacksonville)

IMPORTANT ENTERPRISE.—Mr. Pomeroy, representing the Oswego iron works in Clackamas county—accompanied by five experienced miners arrived at Rock Point this week and are now engaged in making a thorough test of the iron deposit on Rogue River. If it proves as valuable as the prospect indicates a large force of men will soon be employed thereon and the industry will prove a valuable one to this section. We hope to chronicle their success.

 

July 18, 1883, The Daily Astorian

For some time past the woods near the White House have been set on fire rather mysteriously about every week and large quantities of cordwood burned besides tons upon tons of charcoal belonging to the Oswego Iron Co. Efforts were made in vain for a long time to find out how the fires originated, but until this week in vain, when it was discovered that Chinamen had been quietly burning the wood as fast as they cut it so as to prolong their job through the winter, well knowing that the company would be obliged to have wood and were paying a good price for the cutting of it.—East Portland Vindicator.

 

Aug. 2, 1883, Helena Weekly Herald (Helena, Mont.) p2

NOTES OF A TRIP FROM HELENA TO PORTLAND  [Excerpt]

Portland is situated on the Willamette river, 122 miles from the ocean, 12 miles above the Columbia….  Not the least among the most important industries is the Oregon Iron and Steel Co., whose works are located at Oswego, seven miles south of Portland, on the Willamette river. This company will practically control the markets of the Pacific coast for all its products. With the exception of the Pacific Rolling Mill at San Francisco, and two small blast furnaces, one in California and one in Washington Territory, this is the only rolling mill [sic] on the coast. It owns and controls 600 acres of ore land, yielding 40 per cent of metallic iron, with 3,000,000 tons now in sight. The Northern Pacific Railroad and its numerous branches, the Oregon Railway and Navigation Company, and the local Oregon roads will draw their supply of iron from this company for repairs and rolling stock. The cost of making a ton of charcoal pig iron at Oswego is $13, while in the East it is $20. The low coast here arises from the cheapness of mining the ores, their tractability, and the exceedingly moderate coast of the charcoal produced from timber on the company’s lands. The advantages for building iron ships in Oregon in competition with other portions of the United States, and the British ship yards are paramount. A superior quality of iron can be manufactured here at much lower cost than on the Atlantic coast….

[Contrary to what the writer of this article says, the cost of producing iron in Oregon was higher than in the East and was one of the principal factors in the demise of the Oregon iron industry.]

 

Villard portrait
Henry Villard

Dec. 21, 1883, Little Falls Transcript (Little Falls, Montana) p2

Villard Steps Down and Out

On Monday, railroad circles were excited by the semi-official announcement that Henry Villard had resigned the presidency of the Oregon and Transcontinental Company and the Oregon railway company, and was about to give up the presidency of the Northern Pacific to the former President Frederick Billings.

Mr. Villard refused to be interviewed. Through his secretary he made the explanatory statement that he had been impressed with the conviction that it would not be proper for him to continue as the president of all the companies whose management he has heretofore directed, after the completion of the Northern Pacific railroad as a transcontinental line.

Mr. Frederick Billings has resigned from the Oregon Transcontinental directory, and will take charge of the Northern Pacific railroad again. He abandons the one to save the other. His stock was sold last week, and was the long stock then unloaded. He was disgusted with the way the “blind pool” was conducted, and disagreed with his colleagues on matters of retrenchment as well.

The opinion on the street is that the change is the best thing which could occur for the company’s interest and Mr. Billings, the first president, has a better knowledge of the system of roads than any other living man. He is several times a millionaire, and a man in whom the public has confidence. His policy will be conservative, and in favor of retrenchment. “The change cannot be for the worse, in any event,” said a prominent operator.

[The Oregon and Transcontinental Company was a holding company organized by Henry Villard. The Oregon Iron & Steel Company held securities in the Oregon and Transcontinental Company so the company’s financial losses in late 1883, had a severe effect on Oregon Iron & Steel and on Simeon G. Reed, who was counting on Villard’s help to finance the new iron works already under construction in Oswego.]

 

Jan. 2, 1884, Omaha Daily Bee p1

A FINANCIAL EXHIBIT

NEW YORK, January 1.—The report of the sub-committee appointed to investigate the condition of the Oregon and Trans Continental company was presented to the executive committee at midnight last night. The committee reports that the receipts of the company as shown by the books and from certificates of parties holding securities as collaterals on loans as well as actual count of such securities as are in possession of the company are as follows: Oregon R. R. and Navigation Co., 152,027 shares; Northern Pacific preferred 153,700 shares, common 147,934 shares; Wisconsin Central stock, 15,714 shares; Milwaukee & Lake Winnebago, preferred, 2,775 shares; common, 2,260 shares; Oregon & California stock, preferred, 150 shares; common, 400 shares; Oregon Iron and Steel company, 1,500 shares; Oregon & Virginia consolidated mortgage bonds, $2,000,000; lands earned and other real estate as per ledger, $236,368; Oregon Improvement company, $519,128; Puget Sound railway, under construction and not bonded, $421,022; Northern Pacific Railway company, to balance account, $24,206; cash, $195,927.

The liabilities of the company from the best sources are shown to be as follows: Bills payable, $10,562,500; credit vouchers, $396,133; Oregon Railway and Navigation company, $48,895.

The committee are informed that bonds are to be received from branch lines which will meet the requirements for construction. Your committee has deemed it proper to state the assets at their face or share value, not considering it within their province or desirable to affix market values which are constantly liable to fluctuation.

In closing the report the committee express their appreciation of the readiness on the part of the officers and employes of the company to facilitate as much as lay in their power the committee’s task.

 

July 19, 1884, Daily Morning Astorian, p3

L. B. Seeley of Ohio has brought suit in Portland against the Oregon Iron and Steel Company, and wants a legal investigation. Judge Deady has granted a provisional injunction restraining S. G. Reed and Ladd & Tilton from collecting any claims against the company pending the suit.

 

June 13, 1884, Oregon City Courier

Sometime this month, the stockholders of the Oswego Iron company will hold a meeting to determine what their future action shall be.

 

Sept. 3, 1884, Los Angeles Herald

Justice Field in Oregon

Portland, Org., Sept. 2.—Justice Stephen J. Field of the Supreme Court of the United States, arrived here today from the East. He will sit with Judge Deady in the very important suit of Seeley vs. the Oregon Iron and Steel Company.

 

Sept. 26, 1884, The Columbian (St. Helens)

The works at Oswego will soon commence operations again. They have received an order for two hundred tons of iron. This will be good news to many now out of employment.—Enterprise

 

Nov. 16, 1884, Daily Alta California

An important water right suit is soon to be tried in Oregon, involving the question of the rights of the Oswego Iron Works Company to divert the water of the Tualatin River through a canal for use at the company’s works.

 

Dec. 25, 1884, Oregonian

BRIEF MENTION.

The Oswego Iron works were shut down Tuesday night. They have been kept running with great difficulty since the storm, but the bursting of the water pipes made it impossible to continue work any longer till the weather moderates.

 

March 27, 1885, Corvallis Gazette p4

The furnace of the Oregon Iron and Steel Company at Oswego has been closed down for a few days until the mine can be opened and more ore secured. When work is resumed again, no stoppage is expected until the present orders are filled.

 

Henry D. Green
Henry D. Green

April 7, 1885, Oregonian p1

NOTABLE DEAD. — DEATH OF HENRY D. GREEN

NEW YORK, April 6.—Henry D. Green, of Portland, Oregon, one of the well-known men of that state, died suddenly at the fifth Avenue hotel last evening. Mr. Green had been east for a month on a visit to his son, who is in school at Boston. He was seized with congestive chills Saturday, and had two more yesterday, the last one proving fatal. Mr. Green was about 60 years old. [H. D. Green was one of the founders of the Oregon Iron Company and one of Portland’s most prominent businessmen having founded, with H. C. Leonard, the Portland Gas Light Company, the predecessor of Northwest Natural Gas.]

 

June 26, 1885, Oregonian p3

INCREASING MANUFACTURES.—Two carloads of cooking stoves, ranges and hollow-ware were shipped to San Francisco on the last steamer by Mssrs. Goldsmith & Loewenberg of this city. They expect to open up a good trade in stoves with San Francisco, and are confident they can compete successfully with eastern manufacturers. They have lately shipped a carload of stoves to Butte, Montana, and have orders for two carloads more. They expect to supply the whole Pacific coast with their wares after a while. Oregon is slowly coming to the front in the line of manufactures. Mssrs. Nelson & Co. ship some fifty coils of rope to San Francisco by each steamer. Southern Oregon is sending quicksilver in considerable quantities and the Oswego Iron works are sending about fifty tons of pig iron weekly. The quantity of each of these articles can be increased indefinitely and doubles the shipments will grown larger by degrees, and it is to be hoped that other articles will soon be added to the list.

Goldsmith & Loewenberg

July 7, 1885, Oregonian p2

There is danger that the trouble between the stockholders of the Oregon Iron and Steel Company will result in the shutting down of the furnaces at Oswego. If so, the Oregon Stove Manufacturing Company, which uses a thousand tons of pig iron per year, and whose product is just beginning to find a market away from home, will have to quit, or at least limit its operations. When it rains it pours, and the rule holds for either good or evil. What a fine thing it would be if the discordant stockholders would settle their grievances among themselves instead of turning their magnificent property over to decay and wasteful litigation.

 

July 17, 1885, Oregonian p2

THE PRODUCTION OF IRON.

The collapse of the great iron works scheme is cited as an incident going to prove that nothing in the way of manufacture in Oregon will pay, and as furnishing an excuse for the lethargy of which this journal has recently complained. They who make use of this poor argument (poor even if it were sustained by facts) speak without knowledge. The business of iron manufacture at Oswego from its beginning in 1868 till now has been continuously profitable, and furnishes not a precedent discouraging to local enterprise but, directly contrariwise, an example of conspicuous success. The impression otherwise grows out of a confounding of the original business of iron production with the great scheme of three years ago which has come to nothing. The latter fell of its own weight, not from any fault of the former, which continues in successful operation.

The “great scheme” had a good basis, but it was misconceived and ill-organized. It involved an extent and variety of production out of proportion to the situation and market, and, under the circumstances, impracticable. Its organization was so indefinite that the ownership of a large share of its stock and of part of its plant is in dispute. And it is not too much to say (with great piles of unused material in sight at Oswego, and when the condition of the company’s treasury is an open secret) that to the fatal fruits of misconception and ill-organization there was added another, that of mismanagement.

The best proof that iron can be made profitably at Oswego is the fact that it has been steadily for seventeen years. The conditions are easily understood. The ore lies close at hand, is free from sulphur and other ingredients which interfere with smelting, and is in wide seams easily worked. At no other furnace in the United States can the raw materials be laid down as cheaply as at Oswego. The ore is mined and delivered under contract at one dollar a ton, and two and a half tons are required to produce a ton of pig iron. At the Puget sound furnace, the ore necessary for a ton of pig iron costs $4.50, and its sulphurous quality renders reduction difficult and expensive. At the only furnace in California the cost of ore for each ton of iron is $6. At the Pittsburg furnaces the cost is $10. Another great advantage at Oswego is the cheap supply of charcoal, of which large quantities are used in smelting. At Puget Sound it is cheap as it is here, but in California it is just fifty per cent higher in price. These extraordinary advantages, with its location on tide water, make Oswego the cheapest place in the whole country for the iron production if the prices of labor were equal. Here the rate of wages is somewhat higher than in the east, but this is much more than compensated by the advantage of cheap materials. The competition of the Oswego works is not with eastern establishments but with those on this coast, and it has never had any difficulty in meeting them in the market. The transcontinental freight rate is a sufficient barrier against eastern competition on anything approaching close terms.

The Oswego company holds a splendid property. Its ore supply is practically inexhaustible and is bought and paid for; its timber supply is sufficient for an age to come, and like the ore, is already paid for; its water power is ample and continuous, and is secure for all time; its grounds are prepared, its buildings are partly constructed and its materials and machinery are on the ground. It seems a shame that quarrels and cross-purposes hold those great resources idle and unproductive. Nobody familiar with the situation questions that the “scheme,” if established on a revised plan and conducted on business principles, without bluster or extravagance, would pay, and pay finely.

It seems idle to point out the advantages to the country which would follow the opening up of this work on a large scale. Almost every business in the state would be more or less benefited. The iron mine at Oswego ought to be more profitable to Portland than a gold mine at the same place, and we cannot but think that it will be. It must be admitted, however, that the immediate prospect is not pleasing. The discordant stockholders seem bent upon a course, which if persisted in, will lock up the property in litigation for four or five years, and in the meantime there is danger that the work of smelting now carried on in a small way will cease altogether.

 

Aug. 25, 1885, Daily Astorian

The iron works at Oswego will soon shut down it is said. Dull times and trouble among the managers are the principal reasons for the cessation of work.

 

Nov. 4, 1885, Daily Morning Astorian p3

The works of the Oregon Iron and Steel company at Oswego have been closed down for an indefinite period.

 

Nov. 5, 1885, Oregonian p8

THE OSWEGO IRON COMPANY — Suit of L. B. Seeley against S. G. Reed. To Rescind Contract.

DECISION AGAINST THE PLAINTIFF.  U. S. Circuit Court, District of Oregon, Monday, November 2, 1885, L. B. Seeley v. S. G. Reed – No. 1054. Suit to rescind contract.

(1.) SUIT TO RESCIND CONTRACT ON THE GROUND OF FRAUD.—A court of equity will decree a rescission of a contract obtained by the fraudulent representations or conduct of one of the parties therein, on the complaint of the other, when it satisfactorily appears that the party seeking the rescission has been misled in regard to a material matter by such representation or conduct, to his injury or prejudice.

(2.) IDEM.—But when the facts are known to both parties and each acts on his own judgment, the court will not rescind the contract because it may or does turn out that they or either of them were mistaken as to the legal effect of the facts or the rights or obligations of the parties thereunder; and particularly when such mistake can in no way injuriously affect the right of the party complaining under the contract or prevent him from obtaining and receiving all the benefit contemplated by it and to which he is entitled under it.

DEADY, J.

This suit if brought by the plaintiff, a citizen of Ohio, against the defendant, a citizen of Oregon, to have a contract entered into by the parties on March 27, 1881, canceled, and a certain promissory note and certificate of stock then delivered by Seeley to Reed, in pursuance thereof, returned to him. The bill was filed July 29, 1884.

The case was heard and submitted on the bill answer and replication and the testimony taken by the plaintiff. The execution of the contract in question is admitted. At the date of it, the parties were in New York and the plaintiff was a stockholder in the Oregon Iron and Steel company, a corporation formed under the laws of Oregon, of which the defendant was then the president. It begins with a recital that Reed is willing “to advance or loan” said company, including the amount theretofore “loaned or advanced” to it, the sum of $150,000; that Seeley “Is willing and desires to obtain an interest of $50,000” in said loan, and to that end has given his note for that sum to Reed, payable in two years thereafter with interest at seven per centum per annum, and “delivered as collateral security for said note and the interest thereon, 961 share of the capital stock, full paid,” of said company; in consideration whereof Reed agrees that on the payment of said note to redeliver to Seeley said shares of stock, “together with one-third of such bonds, stocks, notes or other securities,” as he may obtain from said company, “in consideration of his said advance of $15,000;” and Seeley authorizes Reed in default of payment of said note “to sell or dispose” of said 301 shares of stock and the said one-third of the securities received from said company, subject, however, to the stipulation that if the proceeds of such sale or disposition are not sufficient to pay said note at the maturity thereof, Seeley shall not be further liable thereon, but the same shall be delivered to him; and in consideration of the premises, Seeley also agrees, if requested by said company, to act as its general manager for the period of two years, at a salary not exceeding $3000 per annum.

The bill alleges that on August 22, 1883, the capital stock of the company was reduced from $3,000,000 to $1,500,000, and the number of shares thereof reduced correspondingly, but Seeley’s certificate No. 10, for 722 shares, was not surrendered and reduced to 361 shares, of which it is, and in making said contract, was considered the equivalent; that the date of the contract the company was financially embarrassed, and the same was executed solely for the purpose of hiding it in raising funds; that Seeley had not been in Oregon for a long time, and got “almost all” his information concerning the condition of the company from Reed, who “falsely and fraudulently represented” to him that he had advanced over $100,000 to the company, when in fact he was then and still is largely indebted thereto; that said certificate was delivered to Red in trust until he should make the loan to the company and obtain the securities therefore, when it was to be held as collateral security for the payment of the note, which latter was delivered without any consideration except the contract; that shortly after Seeley arrived in Oregon, on and after July 10, 1884, he first examined the records of the company and discovered that Reed and his associates, “fraudulently contriving” “to wreck” said company, had “fraudulently and illegally appropriated and converted to their own use over $400,000 in money and properties, of its assets;” whereupon he commenced a suit in this court against Reed and others, comprising the firm of Smith Bros. & Watson, and W. S. Ladd and others, comprising the firm of Ladd & Tilton, and E. W. Crichton, C. R. Donohue and H. A. Elliott, to compel the return to the company of said assets, which suit, the bill therein being held multifarious, was on November 12 dismissed, when he commenced two suits in this court for the same [illegible]—the one against a portion of said parties and the other against them all,–which suits are still pending, and Seeley’s right to maintain them depends on his being a stockholder of said company; that on July –, 1884, and divers days thereafter, Seeley demanded of Reed to return said certificate and note or perform his agreement and advance $150,000 to the company, the former of which he refused and still refuses to do, and the latter of which he is now unable to do, and “is fraudulently attempting to make said company insolvent and financially embarrassed and unable to pay its debts; that said 361 shares of stock have not been transferred on the books of the company and the legal title thereto is still in Seeley, but that on July16, 1884, and since, Reed, to prevent Seeley from maintaining said suits and to enable him the better to carry out his scheme of wrecking said company, did fill up said blank transfer and power and attempt to have said shares of stock transferred to himself, and unless restrained will yet do so, for he and his associates have the control of said company, to the “irreparable injury” of the plaintiff and said company, and “in the manifest and irreparable subversion of justice in the premises.”

The defendant, by his answer, denies positively and specifically every charge in the bill of false, fraudulent or illegal purpose, representation or conduct or that he is or ever was indebted to the company, and alleges that at and prior to the date of said contract Seeley and himself were in New York conferring together concerning the financial troubles of the company with a view to its relief, at which time the latter knew that the defendant had advanced in the neighborhood of $100,000 to the company and was fully advised of the proceedings of the directors; that Seeley then knew the financial condition of the company otherwise than from the defendant and was in close relationship and correspondence with E. W. Crichton, the secretary and one of the directors of the company; that Seeley then and there proposed that if the defendant would buy of him 62 ½ of the reduced shares of the company’s stock, at its par value–$6250—and would enter into said contract and take his non-negotiable note and said 361 shares of stock as collateral security for its payment, he would come out to Oregon and attend to the business of said company and relieve the defendant from further anxiety about the same; that Seeley, who was much better acquainted with said business than the defendant, represented to him that if this arrangement was made he could put the business of the company on a satisfactory footing, whereupon the defendant accepted the same and signed said agreement, and at this same time and as a part of the same transaction, and to accommodate Seeley, he purchased from him said 62 ½ shares of stock and then and there paid form them, by cash $1000 and by the surrender of Seeley’s not of May 21, 1883, for $2000 with interest from date at 8 per centum, making in all $6250: that thereupon Seeley delivered to defendant certificate No. 22 for 125 shares of stock, with an endorsement thereon dated March 27, 1881, signed by him, and to the effect that it was to be surrendered and a new certificate issue in its place for half the amount, together with a power of attorney for the transfer of the same, and on April 8, 18884, delivered to the defendant certificate No. 10 for 722 shares of the company’s stock, mentioned as 361 shares of said stock in said contract, with a like power of attorney and endorsement thereon; that defendant did not want said 62 ½ shares of stock, nor were they worth the price paid for them, and the chief inducement for their purchase was to get Seeley to come out to Oregon and take charge of the company’s business, for which reason, at the latter’s urgent request, he also, on April 10, advanced him $500 to defray his expenses to Oregon: that soon after Seeley came to Oregon, arriving in Portland on April 17, for the purpose as defendant understood of carrying out said contract, but instead of so doing returned to New York about June 10, and proposed to the defendant, that he should acquire the property of the company and convey one-fourth thereof to himself, one-sixth to Crichton and one-twelfth to Donahue with the management of the whole, for which Seeley was to give his note for $150,000, payable in thirty years with interest at 6 per centum per annum, and said Crichton and Donahue were to give similar notes for $100,000 and $60,000 respectively, to be secured by a mortgage on the property, and that this proposition was accompanied with a threat that unless it was accepted Seeley would sue the defendant, exhibiting at the same time an opinion prepared by his counsel in which it was said—“In the hands of a skillful lawyer their mistakes (referring to the directors of the company) however innocent they might have been, would appear very suspicious, and the wreck of this fine property appear a premeditated affair”—which proposition the defendant declined and insisted on the arrangement of March 27, 1881: that about June 16 the defendant in pursuance of said contract advanced the company $30,000; that the defendant arrived in Portland about June 30 and on July 7 proposed to the company to make it an advance sufficient with that already advanced to make the sum of $150,000, which proposition, by the notes of Crichton and Donahue who were then in the board of directors was laid on the table, but was repeated on September 23 and laid on the table until September 23 and laid on the table until October 21, when it was duly accepted, and thereafter, on October 23, the defendant in pursuance thereof advanced and loaned to the company $20,817 [illegible], which with his former loans and advances made the sum of $150,000; and that the blank assignment and power given to the defendant by Seeley, with the certificate No. 10 was filled up by the former in the due course of business before the commencement of the suit by Seeley against Reed and others, and according to the understanding with Seeley at the date of the contract, but the secretary of the company, Crichton, acting in collusion with Seeley, illegally refused to make the transfer to the defendant on the books of the company.

The defendant also in his answer offers to rescind the contract and return the note and both the stock certificates if Seeley will return him the money paid on No. 22–$6250—which he avers was a part of the consideration of the contract.

The testimony taken by the plaintiff was quite voluminous and covers a wide range. By far the greater portion of it relates to matters mooted in the other suits of his pending in this court and have little or no application or weight in this.

The answer of the defendant is under oath, and so far as it is responsive to the bill, it is taken as true and until the contrary is clearly established by the testimony of at least two witnesses or one witness and clear corroborating circumstances, Hough v. Richardson, 3 Story, 692: Story’s E. P § 875 [illegible]; Tobey v. Leonards, 10 Wall., 430.

The only ground on which the court can give the relief prayed for in this bill, is that by the fraudulent representation or conduct of the defendant in or [illegible] a matter material to the subject of this contract, the plaintiff was misled to his injury. Story’s E.§§ 201-3, 695; 2 Pom. E. J., § 910; Hough v. Richardson, 3 Story, 690; Smith v. Richards, 13 Pet., 36.

The allegations of fraud are vague and indefinite. They may be condensed into two statements. One, that the defendant, at the time of making the contract, told the plaintiff that the company owed him about $100,000, when in fact he was indebted to it. The other that some time before that date, the defendant and his associates, without saying who they are had fraudulently appropriated to their own use, $100,000 of the assets of the company.

Looking into the evidence to see on what this question of indebtedness turns, I find that the company was organized in April, 1882, with 18,000 shares of stock of the par value of $100 each, which was subscribed by W. S. Ladd, W. M. Ladd and E. W. Crichton, the latter taking 1770, and the others 150 shares each; that in the fall of 1882 the company purchased the property of the Oswego iron works, valued at $600,000, for 12,000 shares of its stock, valued at fifty cents on the dollar, and issued the same to S. G. Reed, H. Villard and D. O. Mills, 3000 shares each, and to W. S. Ladd, L. B. Seeley, C. R. Donahue and E. W. Crichton, 750 shares each: that soon after the remaining 6000 shares were issued to Crichton as paid up stock, to be disposed of as such, at fifty cents on the dollar, for the purpose of purchasing machinery for the company, which stock Crichton soon after surrendered, and the same was reissued to the defendant for that same purpose, and that he disposed of one-half of said shares for the sum of $150,000, for which he accounted to the company, but being unable to dispose of the remainder, he returned them to the company, when the directors at a meeting held on September 21, 1883, accepted the same and returned his receipt therefore, and at the same time in pursuance of a vote of the stockholders, at a meeting thereof, held on the same day, the directors reduced the stock of the company one-half, and ordered the unsold shares returned by the defendant canceled; and that the defendant, prior to the making of said contract, had in fact advanced to the company near about $100,000.

It also appears from the testimony of the plaintiff, as well as otherwise, that all these matters were known to him at and before the making of the contract, and that he and the defendant acted on the assumption that such were the facts, without either relying on the other for his information; but afterwards, and before commencing this suit, the plaintiff, on the advice of counsel probably, came to the conclusion that the legal effect of the facts was and is, that the defendant was a subscriber for said 6,000 shares of stock, and not the mere agent of the company for its disposal, and therefore was still indebted thereon to the company in the sum of $150,000, from which the directors had no power or right to release him: and that deducting his advance from this sum, he remained and was indebted to the company in the sum of $50,000. Now, admitting that the plaintiff’s present view of the defendant’s liability in regard to this stock is the correct one, there is no ground for saying that the plaintiff was misled in this matter by the defendant. The plaintiff knew as well as the defendant that the directors had accepted the return by the latter of the 3,000 shares of this stock, and the facts relating to it, and could and did judge for himself as to the effect thereof. At least, the defendant does not appear to have been either his informer or advisor in the promises, while he does appear to have been in close correspondence with his friend, E. W. Crichton, who has been a director and superintendent of the company since its formation, and the secretary thereof since December 1, 1883.

But admitting that the defendant was indebted to the company in the sum of $50,000 instead of the company being indebted to him in the sum of $100,000, and that the plaintiff was ignorant of that fact, the knowledge of it would not have prevented him from entering into this contract, but on the contrary would have been an additional inducement to do so. In this matter the defendant appears to have sought and obtained an opportunity to take an interest with the defendant in a loan to the company, not simply for the good of the latter, so far as appears, but his own good, as well. The state of the account between the company and the defendant was a matter of no importance in the promises to the plaintiff, except as it indicated the solvency or not of the former and its ability to repay the loan with interest. So that the defendant being abundantly able to pay this supposed indebtedness to the company, the fact of its existence instead of operating as a fraud on the plaintiff is a party to this contract, was an advantage to him, both as a creditor and a stockholder, to the extent, that it increased the company’s assets.

As to the other charge, the material facts appear to be that in the spring of 1883, negotiations were opened between the company and the firm of Smith, Bros. & Watson, of this city, for the purchase of their foundry property, that resulted in a proposition by the latter to sell the same, at a valuation of $225,000 for 4500 shares of the company’s stock, valued at 50 cents on the dollar, and at a stockholder’s meeting, held on March 20, 1883, it was voted to authorize the directors to make the purchase and upon the receipt of proper deeds and bills of sale of said property, to issue to Smith, Bros. & Watson, 4500 shares of paid up stock of the company: but the directors took no action in the premises nor did the former ever make any conveyance or transfer of their property to the company. Subsequently they proposed to withdraw their proposition of sale, and at a meeting of the directors, held on September 21, 1883, their request was unanimously complied with.

In the meantime, between the making of the proposition and the withdrawal of the same, the two concerns maintained intimate business relations, but were carried on separately and without any consolidation. In this time Smith Bros. & Watson put up the large iron transfer or ferryboat for the Northern Pacific, to be used on the Columbia river, at Kalama, by which it is said they cleared $100,000, and did work for the company for which they were allowed and paid on settlement $40,000.

The charge that the defendant and his “associates,” meaning, I suppose, his co-directors, W. M. Ladd, E. W. Crichton, C. R. Donahue and F. C. Smith, the persons constituting the board when Smith Bros. & Watson were allowed to withdraw, appropriated $100,000 of the assets of the company to their own use is based on these facts.

In other words it is boldly assumed that the company not only lost the value of the foundry property, the alleged profits on the transfer boat construction and the money paid for work done for it, in all $365,000, by the illegal action of the defendant and his co-directors on September 24th, but that these parties thereby wrongfully appropriated the same to their own use.

To begin with, the company could not have lost anything by not getting the foundry property, unless it was worth more than it was to give for it, which does not appear, and that it could possibly have lost $225,000 thereby, or any considerable portion of that sum, is under the circumstances simply absurd.

There is no proof of the profits made on the construction of the ferry boat, but it is highly probable that there were profits, and it may be admitted for the purpose of this question that they reached the figure stated–$100,000. The $10,000 paid for the work done could not have been lost to the company, unless the transaction was fraudulent or fictitious, which does not appear, but rather the contrary.

But admitting that there is no ground for the general allegation that the defendant and his associates converted these sums to their own use, it is alleged that the defendant was at the date of the transaction complained of, a secret partner in the firm of Smith Bros. & Watson, and that whatever the company lost by it, he, as a member of that firm, got a share of. Granting for the time being, that the defendant was a member of this firm, it does not follow that he was a gainer by any transaction between it and the company, even if the latter was the loser thereby. Taking the plaintiff’s contention for true, the defendant was one of five persons constituting the firm of Smith Bros. & Watson, while it appears from the evidence that he was, and is the owner of one-fifth of the stock of the company, and was therefore liable to lose on the one hand as much as he could gain on the other.

And as to the question of whether the defendant and his co-directors acted wrongfully or even improvidently in consenting to the withdrawal of Smith Bros. & Watson’s proposition, it must be remembered that it was done under the advice of eminent counsel, upon the very plausible ground, to say the least of it, that thy could not be held thereto—the same not having been accepted by the directors and the stockholders having no power under the corporation act to transact any such business.

But however this may be, it is a sufficient answer to this charge and to any claim the plaintiff may make on the facts involved in it, that he know all about these matters, at and before he executed the contract, and was in no way misinformed or misled by the defendant concerning them.

With full knowledge of the facts, he then appears to have regarded the transaction as legal and honest, and if he has since come to a different conclusion or been advised that the company has a valid claim against the defendant and his “associates” for $100,000 on this account, what possible cause is that for canceling a contract for an interest in a loan to the company?

When the plaintiff executed this contract he must have supposed the company was more or less financially embarrassed, and yet he was not only willing but desirous of taking a considerable interest in a large loan to it; but now that he finds it has a valid claim, of which he was then ignorant, against solvent parties for $100,000, a sum greatly beyond the company’s indebtedness, he wishes to be released from his engagement upon the plea that this claim arises out of the previous misconduct of the defendant and his associates, which made this loan necessary.

Neither is the plaintiff entitled to have this contract rescinded by reason of anything that has happened or been omitted since it was executed. The defendant did not undertake absolutely to make this loan to the company or to do so within any specific time: and in any event, the consent of the company must first be obtained, and the $100,000 already advanced was to be considered a part of it. Doubtless he was bound to make the loan in a reasonable time, the circumstances considered, or return the plaintiff his note and certificate of stock. But the loan has been made in pursuance of the contract, and as soon thereafter as the company would accept it, and give the plaintiff the proper acknowledgment thereof and obligation to repay it.

And now, whether as a result of this transaction the plaintiff is or may become a non-stockholder in the company and therefore unable to maintain any suit for relief against these transactions, if wrongful and injurious to the stockholders, is altogether immaterial, so far as this case is concerned. An otherwise valid contract cannot be canceled on any such irrelevant ground or apprehension as this. If the plaintiff, by pledging his stock to the defendant as collateral security, with a blank assignment and power of transfer, has deprived himself of the right and privilege of a stockholder in this company, during the existence of the pledge, he must submit to such deprivation until he is ready to redeem the same by the payment of his note.

On the argument it was maintained on behalf of the defendant that the sale and purchase of the 62 ½ shares of stock was a material part of the transaction resulting in the contract of March 27th, and therefore no decree of cancellation ought to be made under any circumstances, unless the plaintiff is required to return the $6250 received for this stock, on which terms the defendant waiving all other objections offers to consent to a recission of the contract.

The evidence tends strongly to show that the transfer of this stock was a part of the transaction and a substantial element in the considerations which induced or caused the parties to enter into the contract of March 27th. Seeley, who seems to have been without present means and in debt to Reed, appears to have made his coming to Oregon and taking charge of the company’s business, as the latter desired, conditional on the purchase of this stock, while Reed appears to have made his consent to advance money to the company conditional on Seeley’s taking charge of its business; and so it would seem that the three things—the purchase, management and loan—were dependent parts of one whole.

But, as in my view of the matter, the plaintiff is not entitled to the relief sought, irrespective of this question, I do not further consider it: and if the parties wish to rescind on such terms, they can do so without the aid of the court.

There is no equity in the bill and it must be dismissed; and it is so ordered.

Mr. Thomas N. Strong, for the plaintiff.  Mr. George H. Williams and Mr. George H. Durham, for the defendant.

 

Jan. 2, 1886, Eugene City Guard

THE NARROW GAUGE.—The work of building the narrow gauge railroad, says the Salem Statesman of Tuesday, began yesterday. One hundred Chinamen were sent yesterday to Oswego to do the grading. Seventeen white men accompanied them to do the clearing. Mr Wm Watson is superintendent of this gang, with headquarters at Oswego. The Oregon Iron and Steel company has given the right of way through its property, which covers seven miles of the line. The conditions are that the railroad is to establish switches at certain points on the property. Mr. Wm Reid said to a News reporter yesterday that the line would be finished in June or July. The highest grade on the line is 66 feet, on the Chehalem mountain.

 

June 1, 1886, Oregonian

CHINESE WANTED FOR THE C. & O. ROAD.—A Chinaman arrived here yesterday who wishes to engage 1000 of his countrymen to work on the extension of the California & Oregon railroad. He will not be able to engage any men, although he offers $25 per month. About all the Chinese here who engage in such work are employed at wood chopping, grubbing and at the fisheries. A vast number of men are at work now on the C. & O. railroad, and judging from the move to secure a thousand Chinamen here there is to be no stop to the work, and the prospect for the connection by rail with San Francisco in the near future looks very favorable.

 

July 8, 1886, Helena Weekly Herald p2

Election of Directors

PORTLAND, Ore., July 2.—The Oregon Iron and Steel Co., in which the Oregon & Transcontinental Co. own a large interest, elected the following directors:  Elijah Smith, of New York; W. S. Ladd, C. J. Smith, E. A. Seeley and S. G. Reed, of Portland.

The elected officers are as follows:

  • President—Elijah Smith
  • Vice President—W. S. Ladd
  • Secretary—W. M. Ladd

 

July 23, 1886, Oregonian p3

LOCAL AND GENERAL.  LOSS THROUGH ENFORCED IDLENESS.—Says the Oregon city Enterprise: The magnitude of the loss to this country by the unnecessary closing of the iron works at Oswego may be seen when it is known that from 1878 to 1885 this institution paid out $780,000; seventy-five percent of this amount was paid for labor. During the time mentioned small farmers in the neighborhood made a living selling the products of their farms to those employed in the iron works, and always got good prices. Now many of these farmers have moved away in order to be able to live. It is to be hoped that the difference between the stockholders will be speedily settled and work resumed.

 

July 27, 1886, Oregonian p3

ANOTHER CASE.—The Oregon Iron & Steel company, represented by Elijah Smith, W. M. Ladd et al, have brought suit in the state circuit court against S. G. Reed to recover specific sums of money aggregating $3[5]0,000. Of this amount $150,000 is for stock subscribed by Reed and never paid up; $200,000 is asked for losses sustained on account of his “mismanagement and fraudulent conduct,” and $11,000 is claimed on account of a shipping transaction which it is claimed Reed unloaded on the company, though it was in fact a private venture. It is further asked that a lot of notes against the company, aggregating about $100,000 and held by Reed, be canceled. The adjudication of this and the other cases between the stockholders of the Oregon Iron & Steel company will take months, and possibly years, and there is small reason to hope for resumption of work at Oswego.

 

Aug. 26, 1886, Sacramento Daily Union

OREGON — A Big Suit

Portland, August 25th.—The Oregon Iron and Steel Company began suit to-day against Smith Bros. & Watson, S. G. Reed and Henry Villard, to complete the defendants to return the company property valued at $275,000. When the iron and steel company was formed in 1882, Smith Bros. & Watson sold their two foundries to the company, agreeing to take $450,000 in stock for pay. The transfer was made but the deeds were not recorded. A few months after, when the defendants learned that the new company was not likely to be a paying investment, they having control of the company’s directory, retransferred the property to themselves. The complaint charges that S. G. Reed and Henry Villard were secret partners in the firm of Smith Bros. & Watson, and that they made $100,000 profit on the Northern Pacific’s iron ferry boat now running at Kalama.

 

Sept. 11, 1886, Daily Colonist (Victoria, British Columbia)

What Some People Say — That a suit for $275,000 has been brought in Portland courts against Henry Villard, S. G. Reed and Smith Bros. & Watson by the Oregon Iron and Steel Company for material furnished.

 

Sept. 20, 1886, Daily Alta California

MECHANICS’ INDUSTRIAL FAIR — Award of Premiums

CLASS 11.—Oregon Iron Company for samples of iron ore and pig iron, silver medal

 

Oct. 28, 1886, Oregonian p8

OSWEGO IRON WORKS — A Magnificent and Valuable Property Lying Idle—Prospect of the Water Power Being Utilized

Mr. L. B. Seeley, so long the superintendent of the iron works at Oswego, yesterday took out to that place Mr. S. W. Blaisdell and Prof. N. W. Keith, the parties who supplied the electric lights for the city of Salem, who wished to make an inspection of the water power belonging to the iron company for the purpose of judging of the feasibility of utilizing if for supplying electricity for lighting this city. The party was accompanied by an OREGONIAN reporter, and took the road over the mountain by the Masonic and Jewish cemeteries. A drive of about two hours brought them to the summit of the bluff, directly over the mine. From this point is a splendid view over the iron company’s possessions, comprising some 15,000 acres of land, the greater part of which is densely timbered. Descending a staircase, the shaft to the mine, hoisting house, locomotive shed and railroad to the furnace is reached. Just below this is the line of the narrow gauge road, which runs for six miles across the lands of the iron company. Far below gleam the waters of the lake, and beyond this is seen the buildings of the old furnace, and to the left the uncompleted buildings connected with the proposed new works.

The hoisting works, etc., are all in good order, the mountain contains a million tons of ore, and the locomotive stands idle in its shed instead of being busy hauling the ore to the furnace. It is not a cheering sight to see all this machinery, railroad, mine, furnace and land, worth a million dollars, lying idle.

Climbing to the top of the bluff, and taking another look over the splendid view which extends from the coast range to Mount Hood, the journey is resumed down the mountain and away across a level and fertile tract of land through a “virgin forest” to the Tualatin river at the little town of Bridgeport. Then following down the bank of the river the point is soon reached where a canal has been constructed to divert its waters into the lake at Oswego, thereby furnishing a magnificent water power, with a head of 80 feet. A pleasant drive among orchards, vineyards and farms brings the party to the once busy little town of Oswego, now as quiet as a tomb. The life died out of the town when the furnace went out. Since it was built in 1867, these works have made over 40,000 tons of pig iron and have caused the disbursement of $[860,000]. The new furnace was calculated to have a capacity of 12,000 tons per year, and if it had been finished 250 or 300 men would have found employment there. In the spacious sheds are now stored over $40,000 worth of charcoal, and it seems too bad, now that iron has gone up and is in good demand to see the mine, furnaces and other property lying idle. If the mine was being worked, each year would see large tracts of the land cleared off and put in cultivation.

The water power, it was decided, can be used to run dynamos to supply electricity for the city, and will be of great value for this purpose. A dam, which can be built at no great cost, will turn the Tualatin river into the lake and furnish all the power needed for this purpose and plenty to spare. It will be a very good thing for the state when work is started again at Oswego.

 

Union Block 2
The Union Block, built by Henry Corbett and Henry Failing.  From the West Shore, June 1, 1882.

 

Nov. 26, 1886, Daily Alta California

PACIFIC COAST PIG IRON

Kane’s Illustrated West gives the following interesting information in regard to Pacific Coast pig iron:  The Oregon Iron Company was incorporated February 23, 1865 and made the first pig iron August 24, 1867. During the time the company owned the furnace, which was about ten years, they made 7,460 tons of pig iron. This was the first iron ever made west of the Rocky Mountains.

The Oswego Iron Company bought the Oregon Iron Company’s property and made pig iron from 1878 to October 26, 1882, during which time they made 18,500 tons. At the latter date they sold the property to the Oregon Iron and Steel Company. This last named company manufactured pig iron from October 26, 1882, to November 1, 1885—in all, 14,663 tons—when the works were closed, and have remained so ever since. The total product was 40,643, which was sold at an average of $25 per ton, amounting to $1,016,074.

During the time the works were in operation under the Oswego Iron Company and the Oregon Iron and Steel Company there were mined 100,000 tons of iron ore, and 100,000 cords of wood were coaled and used. There are at present 525,000 bushels of coal on hand. From 1878 to November 1, 1885, the Oswego Iron Company and the Oregon Iron and Steel Company paid for material and labor $756,000; for the charcoal on hand, $44,000.

The old furnace had capacity for the production of 6,000 tons of pig iron per annum, and the new one, which it is estimated will require an expenditure of $100,000 to complete, will have a capacity of 12,000 tons. That even with the greater facilities for manufacturing the company will still be unable to supply the demand, it is only necessary to cite the fact that the consumption of pig iron on the Pacific Coast averages 20,000 tons per years.

ONLY THREE FURNACES.

There are now only three furnaces for making pig iron on the entire Coast; one at Clipper Gap, California, which has been abandoned on account of the too great cost of production; one at Irondale, near Portland Townsend, W. T., which has a capacity of 10,000 tons per year, and one at Oswego. The owners of the Irondale works have had experts from Wales examining their property, with a view to a sale to an English syndicate for the erection of steel works. It is probable that while the owners of the plant at Oswego are dilly-dallying about the legality of certain stock subscriptions, which have been taken into Court for judicial interpretation, and allowing in the meantime their property to lie idle, the more enterprising people of Irondale will complete their negotiations for the erection of steel works, and being first in the field with an enlarged capacity and ample capital to supply the demand, will wrest from Oregon its lead in this, the most important of all its industries.

When the new furnace shall be completed it is estimated the cost will not be exceeding $16 per long ton for the manufacture of pig iron. The ore costs, for mining and transportation to the furnace, $1 per ton, and charcoal, made in kilns at the furnace, will cost six cents per bushel. Limestone necessary for a ton of iron costs, at the furnace, 50 cents. On an output of 12,000 tons per annum the profit will be about $50,000. The consumption of ore per ton of pig iron product throughout the United States, which was 2.3 gross tons, and is sufficient demonstration, if any were needed, of the quality of the ore, which lies in the greatest abundance, and is conveniently accessible to railroads and steamboats.

The iron fronts of Ladd & Tilton’s Bank, Union Block, Ainsworth Block, Kamm Block, Cosmopolitan Block, Starr Block, Portland Savings Bank, Esmond Hotel and many other large buildings in Portland and San Francisco, also, were made from Oregon iron. Six hundred tons of Oregon iron were used in the Donahue building alone in San Francisco.

SF_City_Hall Goeggel&Weidner
San Francisco City Hall before the earthquake.  Oswego iron was used in its construction.

 

July 16, 1887, Oregonian

NEGOTIATIONS PENDING.—The two factions owning the stock of the Oregon Iron and Steel Company at Oswego evince a disposition to make mutual concessions and settle the difficulty which has so long kept the work idle, says the Oregon City Enterprise. The regular meeting of the stockholders was adjourned till the 20th of this month, and it is said that there is a likelihood that all will be settled by that time, and the owners hope to have matters in harmonious working order before the close of the season.

 

Aug. 24, 1887, Oregonian

THE OSWEGO IRON WORKS.—The adjourned annual meeting of the stockholders of the Oregon Iron and Steel company, set for yesterday, was again adjourned till September 8 on account of Mr. W. S. Ladd not arriving home from Alaska. It is generally believed that the differences of the stockholders have been compromised, and that operations at the mine will be resumed within a short time. It is greatly to be hoped that such may be the case. The starting up of the mine and furnaces at Oswego will furnish employment for a large number of men and will greatly aid in the development of this section. It is unfortunate that such a valuable property should be lying idle, especially as the owners are our principal capitalists and men of affairs, who are deeply interested in the progress of this section.

 

Aug. 27, 1887, Oregonian p1

OSWEGO’S IRON ORE — What the “Chronicle” has to Say Editorially Regarding It.

SAN FRANCISCO, Aug. 26.—Speaking of the deposits of Iron ore that were found several years ago at Oswego, the Chronicle will say tomorrow, editorially: At the time of the discovery of this ore it was thought to be of great value, and no doubt is. Being situated on or near the banks of a navigable stream, affording perfect water communication, these mines should be able to be worked to advantage even if the facilities for smelting ore are not perfect, as to which we are not informed. Even if the ore could not be worked at all on the ground, it is of a high quality and would pay to ship it and have it worked elsewhere. It may be a question whether it is cheaper to carry iron ore to coal, or coal to iron ore, but one or the other will doubtless be adopted, provided the quality of ore is such as to warrant it. The increase in the demand for iron and steel on the Pacific coast during the past few years has been very great. Every manufacturing enterprise, of whatever sort, makes iron and steel absolutely necessary and the amount of raw material used in this city alone is enormous.

Steamboats, railroads, mills, shops, factories—all must have iron or steel or both—and the time has come when there is an imperative necessity for our manufacturing them ourselves, instead of procuring all we use elsewhere.

Modern science has worked a revolution in the manufacture of steel, and in consequence it has largely superseded iron in very many things, although some very recent experiments induce the belief that there will be a revolution of sentiment in favor of iron, and that it will again resume its place for many purposes which it has been compelled to yield to steel. At all events, it is not easy to exaggerate the importance or value of a really fine deposit of iron ore, and if the Oswego mines are what they have been supposed to be, a source of vast and permanent wealth will be added to our sister state, and she will assume the importance on the Pacific coast which Pennsylvania enjoys on the Atlantic.

 

Sept. 1, 1887, Daily Alta California

OREGON NEWS.  Water Pipes Ordered

Portland, August 31st.—The city Water Works to-day let a contract to the Oregon Iron and Steel Company for 1,992 tons iron pipe for street mains, from 12 inches to 4 inches in diameter, at $42.50 per ton. This will give a main on every graded street in the city and on the lower hills back of the city. This contract will enable the Oswego Iron Works, owned by the Iron and Steel Company, to resume operations after three years of idleness, occasioned by litigation. They will put a plant for making cast-iron pipe and it will be the only one on the Pacific Coast.

 

Sept. 8, 1887, Oregon City Enterprise

TO FIRE UP.

The Iron and Steel works of Oswego have contracted with the city of Portland to furnish 1887 tons of water pipe of assorted sizes to be delivered for 42.50 per ton. The first delivery of pipes is to be made in April and 200 tons per month thereafter till the contract is completed. It will require over six months work to fill this order, and the early starting of the works must result. The importance of firing up of the furnaces and the opening of the closed mines can hardly be over-estimated, especially in view of the statement that the company will at once complete the works as designed at the times when the long protracted litigations closed them up, and add a complete plant for the manufacture of mails.

There is not another water-pipe foundry on the coast and at reasonable prices the company can have a practical control of the trade on the Pacific. With the addition of a nail plant, which alone will employ 150 men, the company will place itself in the way of doing a large and profitable business, as there is no factory this side of the Judson works, and in addition to the fine quality of iron mineral at Oswego the company will have the advantage of distance and freight and can compete successfully in this and adjoining territories. That the long standing differences have been settled is a matter to be rejoiced ion. Not only will the town of Oswego receive new life; and activity once more be witnessed on every hand, but the surrounding country and communities be in a measure benefitted thereby.

It is too in a measure a promise of other improvements, and the building up of other enterprises. Such plants once firmly established seldom remain the sole occupier of a place. Industry begets industry, and others follow in obedience to the laws of trade, and we look for other establishments to spring up within easy access of the Oswego works.

 

Sept. 10, 1887, The Oregon Scout (Union, Oregon)

It is thought that the Oswego iron mines will soon be started up, which will give employment to several hundred men.

 

Sept. 17, 1887, Oregonian p8

THE STANFORD PARTY.—Yesterday morning Senator and Mrs. Leland Stanford, Col. C. F. Crocker, Gen. Rufus Ingalls, C. J. McDougall, Wm. Reed, C. N. Scott, R. Koehler and J. H. Mitchell took an excursion trip on the steamer City of Salem to Elk Rock and Oswego. They visited the iron works and also inspected part of the narrow gauge railroad. In the afternoon Donald Macleay, F. K Arnold and other prominent members of the board of trade held an informal conference with Messrs. Stanford, Crocker and Towne in the parlors of the Esmond hotel. The meeting was solely for the purpose of an interchange of individual views regarding the future of Oregon. Senator Stanford expressed himself as more than favorably impressed with what he had seen of the state. This morning the party leave for The Dalles and return on Sunday. On Monday they go to Seattle, and thence to Victoria.

 

Sept. 17, 1887, Los Angeles Herald

OFFICIAL OBSERVERS.  Railroad Magnates Inspecting the Northern Country.  Portland, Ogn., September 16.—

To-day Senator and Mrs. Leland Stanford, Colonel C. F. Crocker, A. N. Towne, General Rufus Ingalls, U. S. A., Senator John H. Mitchell and others took an excursion trip up the Willamette river to Elk Rock and Oswego. The party examined the narrow gauge railroad, which is the property of the Southern Pacific, and the Oswego Iron Works. Judging from the observations made by Senator Stanford, he is well pleased with his trip to Oregon, and more than favorably impressed with Portland. The party will remain in the Northwest several days.

 

Sept. 27, 1887, Oregonian p8

LOCAL NOTES.  The Portland Reduction Works are making preparations to start up in a short time. They need iron ore for a flux, and as the mine at Oswego is not yet re-opened, Mr. J. H. Pomeroy has been dispatched to Gold Hill, where there is a whole mountain of iron ore, to procure a hundred tons, in order that the works may be ready to begin operations on a lot of Sierra Nevada ore expected to arrive here before long. As soon as the mines at Oswego are being worked again it will be but little trouble or expense to get all the ore needed at the works.

 

Oct 25, 1887, Oregonian p8

THE OSWEGO IRON WORKS — Work to be Resumed at [Once—Latest] Improved Steam Blast Ordered.

It was announced in THE OREGONIAN some time since that work was to be resumed at the Oswego iron mines, and to be carried on upon a more extensive scale than ever before. As there has been some delay in making a start, some were fearful that THE OREGONIAN has been premature in its announcement. But such was not the case, and work of getting the railroad in order and making other preparations for resuming business is to be commenced at once. The stockholders of the Oregon Iron and Steel Company met at Ladd & Tilton’s bank on Saturday and elected the following board of directors: S. G. Reed, W. S. Ladd, Wm. M. Ladd, F. C. Smith and Martin Winch. The board elected the following officers: S. G. Reed president, and Wm. M. Ladd secretary. All the differences among the stockholders which have brought about tedious litigation and have been the cause of the mines being closed, have been amicably settled, and all suits will be dismissed in a few days.

Mr. F. C. Smith, who is now at the East to purchase the plant for casting water-pipe, has been instructed to purchase the latest style of steam blast for the new furnace at Oswego. This is an invention by which the immense amount of heat and gas arising from the furnace is utilized to make steam for running the blast. He will probably be back within a month. Arrangements are already in progress for repairing the railroad to the mine, and soon the citizens of Oswego will be able to say that their season of dull, dreary inactivity is past, and the little town will have such a boom as it never knew before.

 

3560
Casting House of the second furnace under construction.  Photo courtesy of the Lake Oswego Public Library.

Dec 1, 1887, Oregonian p8

THE OSWEGO IRON WORKS. — Work on Completion of the Buildings to Commence At Once—The New Machinery Ordered—Etc.

Mr. C. F. Smith, the manager of the Oregon Iron and Steel Company, has been busy since his return from the East in getting things in train for starting up work at Oswego. There is a vast amount of preparatory work to be done. Contracts for re-opening the mine will be let at once, and 20,000 cords of wood are to be chopped this winter for making charcoal. The four brick buildings started some time since are to be completed, the iron roofs having been ordered in Chicago. During his visit east Mr. Smith ordered a large amount of machinery necessary for the completion and equipment of the furnace and works. Some idea may be formed of the scale on which the works are to be constructed when it is known that the company will expend $200,000 in getting ready to commence operations and among the machinery ordered which will begin to arrive in sixty days, is a blowing engine from Lebanon, Pennsylvania with 42-inch steam cylinder and 81 inch air cylinder. An ore crushing machine was ordered in Chicago, into which the ore will be dumped from the cars and hoisted into the furnaces without further handling. A complete plant for making cast iron pipe on a large scale was ordered, and this is bound to become a great industry, as with all the advantages possessed by the company they must supply the whole coast with this article.

There is a lot more machinery coming, all of which being covered by patents could not be made here, and there will also be a large amount of work in the Iron line to be done here. A number of skilled workmen in various departments have been engaged and will soon arrive, and a large number of men will be employed here. It is hardly possible to form an idea of the great benefit the starting up of this great enterprise will be to this [section?]. There will be no lack of capital to carry out to the fullest extent the plans of the company, and the works will be pushed ahead to completion and put in vigorous operation without delay.

 

Dec. 16, 1887, The Oregon Scout (Union, Oregon)

Active preparations are being made for starting up work at the Oswego iron works. Over $200,000 will be expended before operations begin. Contracts have been let for 20,000 cords of wood to be chopped this winter for charcoal. An immense amount of machinery is now en-route from the East, and before many weeks this great industry will be in vigorous operation, giving employment to about 500 men.

 

Jan 1, 1888, Daily Alta California (San Francisco)

THE IRON TRADE.  Statistics of the Year’s Imports and Consumption..

We are indebted to I. Stewart for the following review of the iron trade for the past year: It is pleasing to record that business is reported by foundries generally to have been more satisfactory throughout the year now closing than for some years past. All are presently full of work, with good prospects in the future, while the Coast has scored a substantial gain through the enterprise of the proprietors of the Union Iron Works, securing Government Contracts for the construction of cruisers, thus establishing and developing what will be one of the most important and valuable industries on the Coast. The range of spot prices of pig iron has been high during the year, touching $30 per ton for Soft iron, causing foundrymen to draw more liberally on scrap iron than usual. Under noted are figures showing the stock, importation and consumption of pig iron in the city during the year now closing:

Stock of pig iron held by foundries and mills in this city December 31, 1856, 9650 tons.

Importations were made from the following sources during 1887: Great Britain — Soft iron, 7850 tons; white iron, 1580 tons; total. 9430 tons. Eastern States— Soft iron. 1275 tons. From Stock Oswego Iron Company — Oregon, 300 tons. From Stock Cal. Iron and Steel Company — Clipper Gap, 900 tons. From Stock Puget Sound Iron Company — Port Townsend, 2505 tons. Total, 14,410 tons; grand total, 24,060 tons.

Consumption. — Pig Iron melted by city Foundries and Mills, 13,350 tons ; Pig Iron reshipped, 3125 tons. Total, 16,475 tons.

The total stock of Pig Iron in the city, exclusive of stock held by the California Iron and Steel Company, at their depot, about 600 tons of all grades, amounts to 7585 tons and is held as follows : Soft Iron held by importers and dealers, 425 tons ; White Iron held by importers and dealers, 765 tons: Soft Iron held by foundrymen, 4295 tons : White Iron held by foundrymen, 200 tons ; Mills holding, 1900 tons. Total 7585 tons.

Range of prices per ton during the past three years :

  •                                             1885              1886              1887
  • Foreign soft iron           $24@22       $23 @ 21         $23 @ 30
  • Eastern soft iron            24@20     24 ½ @21 ½     24 ½ @ 27

Coast furnaces — The Puget Sound Iron Company’s furnace at Port Townsend has been the only furnace on the coast in blast during the year, and that only for a short time. This company intends putting this furnace in blast again about March or April next. Total importations of scrap iron for the year have been 24,461 tons.

 

Feb. 20, 1888, Oregonian p3

EXCURSION TO OSWEGO. — PLEASANT TRIP OVER THE LATELY COMPLETED PORTION OF THE PORTLAND & WILLAMETTE VALLEY RAILROAD

The ballasting of that portion of the Portland & Willamette Valley railway between this city and Oswego having been completed and the road ready to be accepted a party of ladies and gentlemen, by invitation of Mr. Wm. M. Watson, superintendent of construction, yesterday made an excursion over that part of the line. The road is in first-class condition, as is evidenced by the fact that the distance from the foot of Lincoln street to the White house was made in ten minutes, and five minutes later the train stopped opposite the works of the Oregon Iron and Steel Company at Oswego. The greater number of the passengers alighted here, and many strolled down to have a closer view of the works being constructed. A swamp, which not even a native-born Webfoot could pass, prevented a near approach, so the visitors could only stare at and wonder what the circular iron plated column some 150 feet in hight, and three similar structures about half the hight, were for. A still larger circular structure not so high, but still incomplete, was set down for the furnace where the ore is to be smelted. A short distance north was a plot of land graded, on which is to be located the foundry for casting iron pipe. Etc., etc.

 

March 6, 1888, Oregonian p4

Oregon Iron and Steel Co’s First Addition — JUST ON THE MARKET! — Buy Now, at First Prices! — The company are erecting immense Furnaces and a large Pipe Factory, which will give employment to hundreds of workmen, — Easy Access to Oswego by steamboat and cars at a trifling expense. — Block and Lots sold for cash or on easy installments, with low rate of interest. — For full particulars apply to CARDWELL & LIPPINCOTT, AGENTS, 26 ½ Morrison St.,– Up Stairs

 

March 6, 1888, Oregonian p5

OSWEGO IMPROVEMENTS.—The Oregon Iron & Steel Co. are now employing about two hundred workmen constructing the furnaces and pipe works. About five hundred Portlanders visited the new town Sunday. The company’s new addition to Oswego is now on the market and already men with foresight have purchased more than a score of lots. Prices and full particulars may be obtained by calling on Messrs. Cardwell & Lippincott, 26 ½ Morrison street, between First and Second streets.

ADDITION TO OSWEGO.–An addition to the town of Oswego containing 780 lots, has been laid out and put on the market. The blocks are 400 feet long and 260 feet wide and contain eight 50-foot lots on each side 120 feet deep with a twenty foot alley between them. The plat is just west of the narrow gauge railway, and looks down on the new works of the Oregon Iron & Steel Company. A number of the lots were sold yesterday, one bringing $1000.

 

1888 Oswego map
New Town, the 1888 addition to the town of Oswego.  Map S. Kuo.

 

March 19, 1888, Oregonian

A DAY OUT OF TOWN.—A large number of people patronized the trains on the P. & W. V. R. R. yesterday. Many stopped off at Fulton, South Portland and the White house, some to view the landscape, as marked off into lots and blocks, some merely to take a stroll and fully enjoy the regulation picnic weather and gather wild lilies. Many went to Oswego and inspected the works in progress there and the site of the addition to the town, where some enterprising party has a building nearly completed, and is burning out the stumps of the old fir trees and setting out young ones in their place. A picnic ground has been provided with tables and seats but the crowd preferred to take their beer and sandwiches under a shed by a fire. A few wild flowers are to be found and the strawberry blossoms are beginning to expand. In another week or so a stroll in the country will be very pleasant.

 

March 20, 1888, Oregonian p8

THE OSWEGO IRON WORKS. — What the Oregon Iron and Steel Company are Doing. — Rapid Progress on the Immense New Buildings and Heavy Machinery—New Mine to be Opened–A Great Industry.

Since the Oregonian announced some three months ago that the Oregon Iron & Steel Company were about to commence operations on the construction of their new works at Oswego but little has been heard concerning the progress made. It will be remembered that the old works were closed down in November, 1883 [Correct date is 1885.] as, on account of the low price of iron, the furnace not being up to modern requirements, could not be operated profitably. New works on a grand scale were started, when, owing to differences among the stockholders, the enterprise became involved in litigation and work was stopped. After about four years these differences were settled, and early in December construction of the new works was resumed, and the work has been pushed vigorously ever since.

An Oregonian reporter visited the works yesterday and was shown over the buildings and grounds by the superintendent, Mr. F. C. Smith. There are now employed on the works 175 white men, mechanics, and 150 Chinese, and the pay roll averages $11,000 per month. When it is known that $1000,000 was expended before work stopped, and that $75,000 has been expended since work was resumed and that $150,000 more will be required to complete the works as now planned, some idea of their magnitude and importance can be conceived.

The most prominent part of the works at present is the huge chimney 160 feet in hight and sixteen feet in diameter, composed of fire brick eight inches in thickness covered with holler [sic] iron a quarter of an inch thick. Between this and the hoisting tower of brick, eighty feet high and twenty-two feet square, are three ovens, so-called for heating the air before it is forced into the furnace.

These ovens are seventy feet high and twenty-two feet in diameter and covered, like the chimney and furnace, from top of bottom with boiler iron. Inside they are filled with flues of six square fire-brick, with a circular hole through them. The smoke and gases from the furnace are drawn through these ovens alternately, till they become as hot as the contents of the furnace itself, and then the blast for the furnace is forced through them alternately, thus furnishing superheated air, which aids in the speedy smelting of the ore.

As showing the completeness of the new works and the scale on which they are planned, it may be mentioned that no other furnace in the country has more than two of these ovens.

3441 enhanced
The second Oswego Furnace.  Photo courtesy of the Lake Oswego Public Library.

The furnace, which is sixty feet high, twenty-two feet in diameter outside and thirteen feet in the clear inside, adjoins the hoisting tower in the north and is of course connected with the foundry, which is of brick, 132×52 feet, with massive stone foundations. A huge pipe of boiler iron conducts the smoke from the top of the furnace down through one end of the foundry to the base of the ovens, after passing through which, up and down, it is drawn through the chimney. In the foundry, as its name implies, the iron from the furnace will be run into pigs.

Adjoining the foundry on the west are the stone foundations of the building to contain the immense blowing engine. This is now on its way here. It makes five carloads and weighs eighty-six tons and is of 200-horse power.

Just south of the ovens and furnace will be located the stock house 62×160 feet and 60 feet high. The railway from the mine will run from the high ground west of the works over a trestle to the upper story of this building, where will be situated the huge ore crushing machine. In the building will be bins to hold 5000 tons of ore and 800 tons of limestone for flux. A tramway will run from this building to the hoisting tower, which will contain two cages for hoisting the ore and limestone to the top of the furnace and dumping them in. On the vacant ground west of the chimney is space for adding additional furnace and ovens as they may be required. South of the foundry is a space for rolling mills to be erected at some future date.

Some 500 yards north of the furnace, work has been commenced on the pipe foundry, 66×100 feet, which will be fitted with the most approved appliances for casting iron pipe of all sizes, the company already having a contract to supply the city waterworks with about 2000 tons. A short distance south westerly from the furnace will be located twenty kilns for burning charcoal, of a capacity of twenty cords of wood each. A cable tramway will convey the coal from these kilns, all hot, to the furnace. Contracts for the chopping of 16,000 cords of wood for these kilns have already been let.

There are on the grounds two huge sheds containing many thousands of bushels of charcoal. Other sheds are crammed with fire bricks, fire clay and other materials necessary for the construction of the works, also a very complete machine and blacksmith shop fitted with all the machinery necessary.

A wharf has been built and a huge derrick for the convenient handling of machinery, lumber, etc., brought to the grounds by boat. About a million feet of lumber has been ordered from the La Camas and Weidler’s mills, which is daily arriving and is hoisted by the derrick, a load at a time, on wagons and hauled to its destination.

Some four miles of side tracks connecting with the P. & W. V. railway will be necessary to carry wood, etc., to the various buildings where they are to be used.

There will be quite a number of engines in use at the works. Besides the 200 horse-power for the blower there will be a 150 horse-power ore crusher, 10 horse-power for the tramway to carry coal, 40 horse-power to run the blowers for the cupola at the pipe foundry, 50 horse-power for the stock house, three engines at the mine and other engines. The company will at once open a new mine 800 feet south of the old one and an 80 horse-power engine will be required for that. The mine was not visited, but the tunnel has been put in order, all obstructions removed, and thoroughly retimbered and put in working order.

The company have secured the right to the water of Tualatin river which is led into Sucker lake by a canal. A new dam is being constructed which will raise the waters of the lake ten feet higher than before and a dam will be constructed across the head of an arm of the lake which runs down toward the new works and this arm will be drained and a pipe laid from the dam at its head to supply the 1,000,000 gallons of water which the works will need daily.

There is a good deposit of clay near the works and yards for the manufacture of brick for the buildings of the company. There has also lately been discovered on the company’s ground a quarry of stone, something between granite and red sandstone, very valuable for building purposes which will be need for sills, lintels, etc., in the new building. Owing to the delay at the eastern manufactories in furnishing machinery, it is not likely that operations in turning out iron can be commenced before July 1st.

This imperfect sketch of what can be seen during a hasty glance over the grounds will give some idea of the extensive scale on which the company’s works are planned and of the importance they will be to this city. The company owns 13,000 acres of land in a body about Oswego, on which is a practically inexhaustible supply of ore and timber for charcoal. They also own valuable mines and vast tracts of timber elsewhere, which are held in reserve. The company consists of S. G. Reed, Wm. M. Ladd, F. C. Smith, C. E. Smith, J. F. Watson, the Oregon & Transcontinental Company and Eastern capitalists, so that it will readily be seen that its operations will never be hampered by lack of capital.

 

Sacramento Daily Record-Union, March 22, 1888

Three hundred and twenty-five men are pushing the construction of the iron works at the Oswego, Or., mines, where $175,000 has been expended and $150,000 more will probably be used in completing the plant before the 1st of July.

 

April 20, 1888, Oregonian p8

THE OSWEGO IRON WORKS — Preparations in Every Department Going Forward Steadily—Mining to Commence Soon.

Work is going ahead favorably in all the various departments of the Oregon Iron & Steel Company’s works at Oswego. The new dam is about complete; work will be commenced on the four miles of side tracks next week, and it is expected to have them completed by the time the furnace is ready to begin operations. The brick yard will be started up next week and a million of bricks will be made.

Timbering of the new mine has been commenced and forty-five men are at work. The site for the bunkers and side tracks has been blasted out and work commenced on the road thereto, and it is expected that the work of taking out ore will be commenced in two weeks. The pipe foundry is approaching completion. In short, all the numerous parts which are to form the grand whole of the company’s works are moving forward simultaneously toward completion, and it is confidently expected that the works will be in active operation by the 1st of July.

 

April 27, 1888, Lebanon Express, p2

The Portland & Willamette Valley Railway Company commenced work yesterday grading the necessary side-tracks, three miles, to all the various works of the Oregon Iron & Steel Company at Oswego, which, including track laying, are to be completed by the 30th day of June. The railway company has negotiated, through William Reid, the vice-president, two freight contracts with S. G. Reed, president of the Oregon Iron & Steel Co. One is for the carrying of 40,000 cords of wood per year from point on the P. & W. V. road to the Oswego iron works, and the other for hauling between Portland and Oswego all coal, coke, sand, lime rock, etc., for the production of iron and for the pig iron, pipe, and other manufactured material to Portland.

 

May 17, 1888, Oregon City Enterprise

OSWEGO.  Our inspiring metropolis is as busy as it can be.  The iron works in process of construction afford employment to over 209 hands and the company’s works present a busy scene during the day while at night the stores of Messrs Prosser and Gans are the centers where the workmen meet to while away the time.

The new furnace is daily assuming shape and proportions, and we hope soon to see the black smoke belching from the tall chimney top.

The tube and pipe works are being roofed in, iron being used for that purpose.

Two or three new houses are being built on the new town site laid off by the company. …

Several miles of extra track are being laid to connect the works with the narrow gauge railroad.  [This probably refers to the rail connection between the new furnace and the existing railroad from the Prosser Mine to the first furnace.] 

 

May 25, 1888, Daily Alta California (San Francisco)

The Oregon Iron and Steel Company is pushing the work of getting their mines and new blast furnaces at Oswego in working order. Between 400 and 500 men are steadily employed. It is expected to have the blast furnaces and works completed and ready for work by July 1st.

 

May 30, 1888, Evening Capital Journal (Salem)

DIED.  NEWBILL—at the Good Samaritan hospital in Portland, Friday, May 25, 1888, at 3:40 p. m. Joseph Newbill, aged 20 years, 10 months and 8 days.  Deceased was severely injured by a fall from a breaking scaffold at the Oswego Iron works on May 22, and died from the effects of these injuries. His home was in Polk county.

 

June 20, 1888, Daily Alta California (San Francisco)

Oregon News.  Portland, Or., June 19th.—A meeting of the stockholders of the Oregon Iron and Steel company, was held this morning. The election of Directors resulted in the re-election of the old Board: S. G. Reed, T. C. Smith, William M. Ladd, Theodore B. Wilcox, Martin Winch.

 

July 22, 1888, Oregonian  [Excerpts]

THE VACATION OF A NOBODY — How a Clerk in a Wholesale House is Enjoying Himself — A Visit to an Iron Mountain within Thirty Minutes’ Ride of Portland—Interesting Incidents of a Day’s Outing.

In the wholesale house where I am employed everybody from the wagon boy up to the office manager, gets ten days’ vacation during the summer at the firm’s expense—only they don’t allow more than one or two off at a time. The boys all insisted that I should have the first vacation, which I take to be real kind of them. It is something of an honor to be the first of a large house to get off — like delivering a salutatory at school. …

This is my first year in the house, and my salary is fixed at $7 a week, which calls for some economy in my plans. I had decided on the Clackamas; but I saw a party who just returned from there, and they reported the water to be four feet too high for fishing. And then it came almost like an inspiration to me to make my headquarters at home in Portland, and go out on short trips here and there as I felt inclined. I bought a nice seersucker ulster and a grip-sack, with a long strap to go over my shoulder, which are quite become to me, and make me look every inch a tourist.

I thought I would try Oswego first, and it only cost me 25 cents for a round-trip ticket. You cannot see much of the country from the narrow-gauge coaches—unless you are hunch-backed—except the bones around the slaughter-houses, and those [illegible] little signs on the water-barrels, “Where to Buy Your Stove and Tinware,” because the window-binds won’t raise up higher than your shoulder. But if you slide way down on the edge of the seat, and lean your head back, you can get some beautiful views out of the windows on the other side of the coach.

When we reached Oswego I was amazed at the immense buildings and engines of the Oregon Iron & Steel Company. It makes a fellow feel as though there were bigger men in this country than he thought there was. I asked the clerk in the office if I might view the works. He said I could, but not to climb up on anything. I don’t think I acted like a young man who would climb up on things. I don’t think I was dressed like a young man who would go climbing smoke stacks and furnaces, and I informed the clerk in rather an impressive way that I should not climb anything upon the premises.

After going all through the works and looking at the company’s new town of Oswego, which is rapidly building up, I examined the ore road. It looks like a thoroughly built track and runs three miles up the side of a steep mountain. A cute little ten-ton locomotive was just ready to start up with a train. And the engineer, noticing probably that I was a tourist, kindly invited me to ride out to the mines. I would have a splendid free trip only the cab was very [had] small and there was but only little bit of a seat and just as we started a young woman, one of the miner’s wives, came aboard. She weighed about 180 pounds, and before I could give her my seat she plumped herself down in my lap. She had bought some groceries, and had all the prize glassware that came with her baking powder in her arms with other bundles. There was a pickle dish, sugar bowl, three fancy tumblers and a lamp all stuck in an immense pitcher, the whole outfit looking as though it had been [illegible] out of cheap window glass. This prize being awkward to hold, the young lady squeezed down on the end of the seat between me and the cab window, and in struggling to move my legs so that the blood would circulate once more, I knocked the glassware out of the window with my elbows. We were going over the trestlework about sixty feet high and the infuriated young woman at once started in to push me out of the window after her shattered prizes, then as suddenly went off into hysterics, finding breath between her screams to prophesy that her husband would break my neck in seven different ways the moment we reached the mines. The result was, I had to pay her $2 for the outfit that probably cost her two bits, and she had the baking powder left.

Peace reigned again, but as the young lady showed a disposition to nestle down in my lap once more I asked the engineer to put me off, and I walked the rest of the way to the summit.

My neat little imitation alligator skin grip-sack was mashed out of shape, and I felt generally demoralized, but soon recovered my spirits. It was a great comfort, after such a waste of my fresh air fund, to realize that I was the employee of a firm generous enough to allow my salary to accumulate during vacation.

I made friends with a very well-informed boy at the mines who seemed to be the only idler around and engaged his services as my guide for a very reasonable sum. I could hardly realize that here within thirty minutes by rail of Portland, I was on an iron mountain, and the improvements there under headway, new ore bunkers, hoisting engines, batteries of boilers, and the new tunnels, were all on a scale with the great works at Oswego.

There is but little expense or trouble about draining these mines. Steam is carried down into the tunnels from the boilers outside, and the water is pumped from the various levels and forced through pipes to a large tank on the very apex of the mountain, which in turn again supplies all the water used on the locomotives, the stationary boilers and elsewhere. It is like making a cow drink her own milk, which my Uncle William did at the state fair with a scrub cow. He taught her to like milk, and then gave her all her own and that from two other cows. It made her give a wash-tub full at each milking, and he took the prize for the best all-around dairy cow in Oregon, and sold her for $100 to the cashier of a bank in Salem, who was an amateur farmer.

The view from the summit, to which the water is forced, is simply grand. I doubt if portions of as many counties can be seen from any other point in Oregon below the snow line. For the boy, who had lived there since childhood, pointed the landmarks out to me so that—including the Cascade range counties where peaks were visible—we could see Crook, Wasco, Linn, Marion, Washington, Clackamas, Multnomah and Columbia counties in Oregon, and Cowlitz, Clarke and Skamania in Washington territory. It was a solemn and majestic thought to me that this mountain, from whence the eye could see so far, was iron all the way down to the roots of it. …

My guide wanted me to go down into the mine—I think he said one slope was in 1300 feet. But it looked most too dark and dismal down there, and besides I would probably have ruined my new ulster. It seemed pleasanter to stay outside and look over into Crook county.

The busy little narrow gauge squirms around the foot of the mountain and the beautiful lake that supplies the O. I. & S. Co.’s works at Oswego with water lies in the valley. The boy wanted me to go down to the lake and fish. He said it was just filled with black bass—the offspring of a single bucketful emptied in five or six years ago. I presume he meant carp, but he said he “never fooled with no [bottom] fish.” However, I thought the climb back up to the ore road would be more than any sort of fish were worth.

I never saw so many young grouse as on this mountain. The [side] hills are so steep that no one can hunt upon them, and being covered with blackberries they make a fine breeding ground for grouse and pheasants. Not being hunted they are quite tame. I noticed coming up on the engine that they would hardly keep out of the way of the wheels.

I asked the boy if he ever shot any birds, and he said he did not have to, for he caught them in a sort of netting, made out of an old salmon seine and pieces of condemned wire rope. He said the engineer—when they were not hauling ore—would allow him to fasten this netting in front of the locomotive; and as the train-going down grade—would disturb the coveys of grouse, here and there along the track, some would not rise until the engine was right on them, and two or three out of every flock would get entangled in the net. He said the day before he caught nineteen half-gown grouse—plenty big enough for the pan—and two young owls.

I retuned to Oswego just in time to see the ?:10 P.M. train pulling into the station with every coach crowded, but I managed to secure a seat. A great many employes of the O. I. & S. Co., with their dinner buckets in their hands, got on the train here. They hold commutation tickets and are getting off all the way down to Portland. The route from South Portland to Oswego is virtually a street of Portland….

To-morrow I shall take a nice, quiet little trip either to Vancouver or Sellwood. I am pretty tired, and don’t want anything exciting to-morrow. And I think now it will be Vancouver.          HENRI CORYELL, Portland, July 21

 

July 23, 1888, Daily Alta California (San Francisco)

MINING NOTES.  The Oregon Iron and Steel Company, at Oswego, has 300 men at work. The new furnaces will be ready for use by August. New bunkers for ore are being built. The company will work on a larger scale than ever before.

 

View of works south
View of Oswego: pipe works on the left, second furnace in the center, and First Addition neighborhood on the right.  Detail from a Supplement to the West Shore (August 1888).

 

Aug. 1, 1888, The West Shore p408-409

IRON AND STEEL WORKS

The largest iron manufacturing establishment in the west is the plant of the Oregon Iron & Steel Company, at Oswego, Oregon, on the west bank of the Willamette, a few miles above the city of Portland. Engravings of this great industry and its picturesque surroundings are given in the large supplement accompanying this number of The West Shore. This plant includes the only pipe foundry west of St. Louis, and, with one exception, the only blast furnace west of the Rocky mountains. It comprises valuable mining property, blast furnace and pipe foundry and all the necessary adjuncts for mining and manufacturing iron on an extensive scale.

The first step for the establishment of an iron manufacturing plant here was taken in 1865, when the Oregon Iron Company was organized, with a capital stock of $2000,000.00. The articles of incorporation bore date February 23, 1865. Operations were immediately commenced, and the first pig iron was made August 24, 1867. This was the first iron ever made west of the Rocky mountains. During the time this company operated the plant, about ten years, it turned out seven thousand four hundred and sixty tons of pig iron. In 1878 the Oswego Iron Company bought the Oregon Iron Company’s property, and had made eighteen thousand five hundred tons of pig iron at the time of selling out to the Oregon Iron & Steel Company, October 26, 1882. This last named company operated the works until November 1885, during which time it made fourteen thousand six hundred and sixty-three tons of pig iron. At the last named date the works were closed, and have remained so since. About the first of September next, work will begin with a greatly enlarged plant and complete modern equipments.

The first charcoal furnace erected was run by water power, and had wooden tubs and cylinders. These wooden appliances were removed during the time the Oswego Iron Company owned the plant. The difficulty which led to closing the works in 1885 was amicably adjusted last year, and the company reorganized with a paid up capital of $1,500,000.00, and the first step toward resuming operations was the construction of new works throughout. The old plant was entirely discarded. Even a new mine was opened. January 1, 1888, the construction of the new furnace was begun, and the work was pushed to completion. The blast furnace has a thirteen-foot bosh and is sixty feet high, with six five-and-one-half-inch tuyers. The bosh walls are protected by water blocks, and the column of the furnace is lined with fire brick two feet in thickness, with a back wall of red brick eighteen inches thick. The down-comer gas flue, from the furnace to the stoves and boilers, is of wrought iron, six and one-half feet in diameter, lined with fire brick. For heating the blast, there were three stoves of fire brick, with wrought iron shells, fifteen feet in diameter and seventy-five feet high, with conical tops. These stoves are lined with a checker work of fire brick. This checker work is heated to a white heat by waste gas from the furnace, then a cold blast is turned on at the reverse side and forced up and down through the stoves until is absorbs the heat, when it is carried back to the furnace. The blowing engine is of the Weimer type, having a total weight of one hundred tons and a capacity of eight hundred horse power.

 

2nd furnace litho
The second iron works.  Detail from a Supplement to the West Shore (August 1888).

The capacity of the blow is twelve thousand cubic feet of air per minute, with ten pounds pressure to the square inch. The power for running this machine is furnished by two batteries of French type boilers. No fuel is used either in generating steam or in heating the stoves, this service being performed entirely by waste gas from the furnace. The smoke-stack is of wrought iron, nine and one-half feet in diameter and one hundred and sixty feet high, and is lined with nine inches of fire brick from bottom to top. The elevator has two cages, one ascending while the other descends, and is capable of lifting five thousand pounds. The stock house is sixty by one hundred and eighty feet, with two ore bins, or bunkers, with a storage capacity of three thousand tons each. The lime house, in one end of this building, holds three thousand tons of lime rock. Seven hundred thousand feet of lumber were used n the construction of this stock house.

The mine of the company is about two and one-half miles west of Oswego, and is connected with the works by a narrow gauge railroad. It is a fissure vein of brown hematite, averaging ten feet in thickness, the ore yielding forty per cent metallic iron. The old mine penetrated the hill in which the ore is found for a distance of about a thousand feet. The ore is first shoveled into cars in the mine, hauled out and dumped into bunkers, from which cars on the Oregon Iron & Steel Company’s narrow gauge railway are loaded and drawn to the furnace stock house. There it is weighed on the cars and dumped into the crusher, from which it passes to the bunkers in the stock house. From there it drops into receptacles, is weighed again and hoisted to the top of the blast furnace, where it is charged. The molten metal from this furnace is cast into pig iron, and is then ready for further manufacture.

The charcoal kilns are thirty-six in number, located near the furnace. They are of the bee hive pattern, thirty feet in diameter and thirteen feet high, each with a capacity of fifty cords of wood which makes twenty-five hundred bushels of coal, and they can be turned twice a month. The railroad track runs along above the kilns, which are charged from the top. It requires the coal from one hundred cords of wood to run the furnace one day to its total capacity of fifty tons. A cable road takes the coal from the kilns to the furnace.

The company’s pipe foundry has a main building sixty-eight by one hundred and eighty feet, supplied with one ten-ton steam crane and three five-ton hand cranes. It has a large pit for casting pipes vertically, and a capacity for turning out twenty-five tons daily, pig iron being taken from the furnace and remelted for this work.

 

Aug. 16, 1888, Oregonian p2

ATTEMPTED INCENDIARISM AT OSWEGO — A Fellow Tries to Burn the Oregon Iron and Steel Company’s Works.

Late Tuesday night a man was observed making his way among the buildings of the Oregon Iron and Steel Company at Oswego. The watchman caught sight of the fellow and watched his every movement, and saw him apply a match to some material. He started after the man, who took to his heels. The watchman called to him to halt, and as he refused to, he fired at him, a bullet passing through his hand. The would-be incendiary escaped.

 

Sept. 10, 1888, Oregonian p5

PORTLAND AND VICINITY.

READY FOR WORK.—Everything is now in readiness for starting up the works of the Oregon Iron and Steel Company at Oswego. The ore road is ballasted, and ore is being hauled from the mine to the stock house. The company has had made in this city twenty hopper-shaped cars of stout boiler iron, the bottoms of which can be opened to let the ore run out. These will make two trains of ten cars each, one of which can be loading while the other is unloading. Everything is arranged so that the ore is not handled from the time it leaves the mine till it is in the shape of pigs. The company received 100 tons of coke from England on the Anamba and sixty tons from the sound to be used in the pipe foundry. The return of Mr. E. C. Darley with the furnace men is expected in a few days, and then the fires will be blown in, and as soon as some pig iron is made the work of casting pipes for the city will begin.

 

Oct. 16, 1888, Oregonian p8

DEEDS MADE.—The deed for two lots in the town of New Oswego, presented by the Oregon Iron and Steel Company to the First Congregational church of Oswego, was made out yesterday by Messrs. Cardwell & Lippincott, agents for the property. The deed was made to Messrs. Oscar Eaton, A. J. Thompson and M. V. Shipley as trustees of the church. A new church is to be erected thereon in a short time.

 

Oct. 18, 1888, Oregonian p4

The Iron and Steel Company’s works at Oswego are being rapidly put in readiness to begin operations. The road from the ore beds to the stock house has been completed and ore is being dumped at the works. Soon another of Oregon’s great enterprises will be in full blast.

 

Oct. 20, 1888, Evening Capital Journal (Salem) p3

Yesterday afternoon the fires in the new blast furnace of the Oregon Iron and Steel company were lighted. The fires were started simply for the purpose of seeing how the draft and air for the blast operated. Everything proved to be in apple pie order. No attempt was made to smelt any ore. It is thought the smelting of ore and the production of pig iron will begin soon.

The second Oswego furnace. Photo courtesy of the Lake Oswego Public Library.
The second Oswego furnace. Photo courtesy of the Lake Oswego Public Library.

Oct. 22, 1888, Oregonian p5

IN AND ABOUT PORTLAND

IN FULL BLAST.—The new furnace of the Oregon Iron & Steel Company at Oswego was tapped yesterday for the first time, and some twenty tons of iron drawn off. Quite a number of persons went out to see the first iron made. Everything worked to perfection, and the iron proved of most excellent quality. The iron works may now be considered as started up in earnest and for “keeps,” and with the making of pig iron the casting of iron pipe will proceed simultaneously. The opening of this industry is an era of no little importance, as it will furnish employment to a large number of men, and will cause quite a town to spring up in the vicinity of the works.

 

Oct. 25, 1888, Oregonian p3

IRON WORKS EXHIBIT.—The Oregon Iron and Steel Company placed on exhibition in the Mechanics’ fair yesterday a block of ore from their mine at Oswego, weighing two and one-half tons. They will also place on exhibit five tons of No. 1 pig iron from their new furnace, and specimens of 8, 10 and 12-inch water pipe cast at their pipe foundry. Everybody will be interested in seeing this iron and pipe, the first output of the greatest industry ever inaugurated here. The company yesterday made forty tons of first class iron, which is considered a very large output for a beginning. The blowing engine is as yet blowing only about two pounds pressure. This will be gradually increased, and it is expected that in two weeks the output will be sixty tons per day. Everything is working in a manner which exceeds the company’s most sanguine expectations, and they are making better iron than ever before.

4-o-i-s-ad

Nov. 10, 1888, Daily Morning Astorian p3

Activity In Home Industries

Mr. F. C. Smith, manager of the Oregon Iron and Steel company, has returned from his visit to San Francisco. He took down samples of the pig iron and iron pipe manufactured by the company, which were considered very fine, and iron workers there were much pleased to be able to get supplies from here. Mr. Smith made a contract with the Spring Valley Water company to supply them with pipe and special castings for four years. He has also contracted to supply a lot of water pipe for the city of Seattle. The company have 150 tons of pipe cast and are turning it out at the rate of fifteen tons per day. The furnace is turning out forty-five tons of iron per day, and this will soon be increased.—Oregonian, 9.

 

Dec. 1, 1888, The West Shore (Portland) p650  [Excerpt]

A YEAR OF PROSPERITY

The most extensive industry inaugurated during the year was that of the Oregon Iron & Steel Co., a Portland corporation, whose extensive plant is located at Oswego, seven miles south of the city. This company is the successor of the Oswego Iron Co., which operated a mine and pig iron plant at that point for a number of years, and has a capital of $1,500,000.00. New works throughout have been constructed, and a new mine opened. The plant consists of a large blast furnace, with all necessary accessory appliances, machines and facilities, engine house, pattern house, machine shop, lime house, store house, railroad to the mine, and thirty-six charcoal kilns. The company also has a foundry for the manufacture of iron pipe, supplied with a ten-ton steam crane, three five-ton hand cranes, and a large pit for casting pipes vertically, the capacity of the foundry being twenty-five tons of pipe daily. It owns two thousand acres of mineral land and fourteen hundred acres of timber land in Oregon, ten thousand six hundred acres of timber land in Washington, and a mine of magnetic iron ore in British Columbia. The ore mined at Oswego is a brown hematite, yielding forty per cent of metallic iron. This plant has been in operation now about three months, and is turning out a large product of pig iron, as well as much iron pipe to fill contracts for the water systems of Portland and San Francisco, and for other purposes elsewhere. The present work of this company, extensive as it is, is looked upon as merely the beginning. Huge rolling mills will no doubt be established in this region before long, and Oswego is certainly the proper place for them. Thousands of tons of steel rails are being laid annually in this region, for which the roads have to wait to much disadvantage many months. There is no reason why they should not be manufactured here where iron, coal and wood are so plentiful.

 

Dec. 5, 1888, Oregonian p5

VISIT TO THE OSWEGO IRON WORKS. — Glimpses of How the Work is Carried on –- Pipe Foundry, Mines, Etc.

Mr. George E. Ames, representing the Union Iron Works of San Francisco, one of the most extensive establishments of the kind in the country, and Mayor DeLashmutt, were invited by Mr. F. C. Smith, manager of the Oregon Iron and Steel Company, to visit the works of that company at Oswego a day or two since, and in company with an OREGONIAN reporter inspected the blast furnace, pipe foundry and the mines of the company.

They were met at the narrow gauge station by a locomotive of the company, which took them first to the furnace, where they spent some time inspecting the ponderous blowing engine, the stock house into which the ore is carried over a trestle sixty feet high and where it is run through a crusher, falling into bins below from which is passes through chutes to handcars, where it is weighed and the proper proportion of limestone added and then run to the top of the furnace by a steam elevator where they are dumped automatically.

The village of charcoal kilns was also inspected and the tramway by which the coal is run to the furnace in cars which are also dumped into the furnace from the elevator. The furnace is a wonderful thing, quite incomprehensible to a newspaper man. There are dozens of streams of water pouring from pipes all around it, and a peep through a piece of stained glass into the seething mass of molten metal inside will convince any one that Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego would have been done brown in there while one could say Jack Robinson.

The pipe foundry is also a wonder, being arranged on quite a different plan from ordinary foundries. The place is not open to the public, but will well repay an inspection by any one who can get permission to go through it. After following the pipe through the process of manufacture a singular hydraulic machine is reached where each piece is tested by being submitted to great pressure from water forced into it.

A handsome, compact and powerful little locomotive then conveyed the party to the mine, or rather mines, as two tunnels are being worked. Between these the ledge of ore can be seen cropping out in the face of the mountain.

Mr. Ames was much pleased and surprised at the extent and completeness of the works as any one will be who inspects them for the first time.

Oregon is bound to become a great manufacturing state owing to the advantages she possesses in inexhaustible supplies of raw material. The state of California has practically no coal, and no wood to make charcoal, and no iron mines, which here we have an abundance of all.

 

Dec. 6, 1888, Daily Morning Astorian p3

The Oregon Iron and Steel company are turning out forty-eight tons of pig iron and twenty-five tons of iron pipe every day. The pipe is not made out of ordinary scrap and coke pig iron, but out of the best No. 1 charcoal pig iron and sells for $30 per tons. They have enough ore in sight to run a furnace of their present capacity for 200 years. They employ 350 men and their pay roll amounts to $28,000 per month.

 

Jan. 1, 1889, Oregonian p11

OSWEGO ON THE WILLAMETTE

The principal work done in Oswego in 1888 was done at the works of Oregon Iron and Steel Company, mention of which was made in the manufacturing department. The company expanded during the year nearly $500,000 and does not intend to stop here. It intends in the near future to build extensive rolling mills and nail works costing $360,000. The company has not decided when to make these additions but they will be made just the same, and then Oswego can be justly called the Pittsburg of Oregon.

 

Aug. 1, 1889, Oregonian p8

FIRE AT OSWEGO IRON MINE. — Shed Over Hoisting Engine Burned—Supposed To Be the Work of an Incendiary.

The shed over the hoisting engine at the new mine of the Oregon Iron & Steel Company at Oswego, was burned about 2 o’clock last Monday morning. The fire is supposed to be the work of an incendiary, as the mine was closed down that night for the first time in many weeks. The mine being some distance away from the residence of any of the employes the fire might have remained undiscovered at that late hour, but for the fact that some giant powder and caps were stored in the engine shed. When the fire reached the caps there was an explosion which roused everybody within hearing and the employes turned out and saved the ore bunkers from being burned. The engine was not damaged and but slight delay will be caused. The lumber for a new shed has been ordered and the building will be completed in a few days. The loss is about $1500.

 

Aug. 1, 1889, Daily Morning Astorian

A $2,500 FIRE.  A fire at the Oswego Iron and Steel works resulted in a loss of $2,500.

 

Sept. 16, 1889, Oregonian p13

IRON WORKING — VAST DEPOSITS OF THE BEST IRON ORE FOUND IN THIS STATE.

The mountainous regions of Oregon abound in vast deposits of the best iron ore. The only iron mine worked in this state at the present time is that of the Oregon Iron and Steel Company at Oswego, ten miles above Portland on the west bank of the Willamette. This company is incorporated with a paid up capital of $1,500,000. And is at the present time giving constant employment to 400 hands. Their product is spoken of as a very superior quality of iron, and the total output of their furnaces and iron pipe works during the present year will exceed $650,000. During the past year the company has expended large sums on development work at their mines and they are to-day in a very satisfactory position for the handling of the business in their line in the Northwest.

 

5-smithwatson-ad

 

Sept. 16, 1889, Oregonian p16

[Excerpt from a long description of fifteen Portland foundries and machine shops. The Smith & Watson Iron Works had close ties to the Oregon Iron & Steel Company.]

PORTLAND’S FOUNDRIESDescription of the Large Machine Shops Here — RAPIDLY GROWING BUSINESS — Portland Iron Plants Can Now Turn Out the Best Lines of Marine and Stationery Machinery

THE SMITH & WATSON IRON WORKS — The Largest Foundry in the Pacific Northwest—The Main Building Alone Covers Two Blocks.

The business of which the Smith & Watson Iron Works are the direct successors was first started in this city in 1865 in a very small way, the capital employed in the plant at the time not exceeding $500. What a commentary is contained in the bare statement that the main building of the company alone to-day is a most substantial brick structure occupying two full city blocks and that the business is now conducted by a company with a subscribed capital stock of $100,000. At the present writing this is the largest and most complete plant of the kind in the Northwest. The officers of the company are as follows: C. E. Smith, president; J. F. Watson, secretary, and R. Collier, superintendent. This company is one of the largest disbursers of money in the city, and it is most gratifying that the main portion of their annual outlay for raw material is spent in this field, at least one-half of this being the product of the Oregon Iron & Steel Co.’s mines at Oswego. The company makes a specialty of heavy structural works, such as building fronts, etc., although they are general manufacturers of all styles of marine, portable and stationary engines and boilers, hoisting works, saw mills, quartz mills and mining machinery, bridge and trestle irons, castings of all kinds, jail cells, vault linings, wrought and cast iron fences and crestings, Hyatt lights for sidewalks, etc., and they are prepared at the shortest notice to furnish plans and estimates for all kinds of iron work. They are also agents for the “Thompson & Evans” steam pump which is acknowledged to be the most reliable and satisfactory pump in use. The Portland location of the company is on Front, Hall, Harrison and Water streets, and any work intrusted to their hands will receive the attention of only the most skilled labor.

 

Oct. 26, 1889, Oregonian p4

Oregon pig iron and cast iron pipe, manufactured at Oswego, are now sent to San Francisco at the rate of about forty tons daily. The present contract will require several months to fill. It is a pleasing [sight] to Oregonians, who have so long watched their money flow into California coffers, to see the tide is now turned in their direction.

Casting pig iron at night. From the West Shore (Nov. 2, 1889).
Casting pig iron at night. From the West Shore (Nov. 2, 1889).

Nov. 2, 1889, The West Shore p226, 232-238

IRON MANUFACTURE AT OSWEGO

One of the greatest manufacturing enterprises of the west is the iron works at Oswego, six miles above Portland, on the west bank of the Willamette, whose extensive plant is illustrated in this number. Portland fails utterly to realize the magnitude and importance of this industry, which is converting the iron of her hills into money for the support of her business. The company is manufacturing a superior quality of iron pipe, using charcoal in the furnaces, which is being used in large quantities in San Francisco, Portland, Tacoma, Seattle and other cities of the Pacific coast. It has contracts now that will tax its present capacity to its full extent for the next two years. However, the question of doubling the plant is under consideration and this will undoubtedly soon be done. In view of the importance of this industry to the city the West shore is of the opinion that no men handling the public money in a trust or official capacity should ever give his consent to the sending of a single dollar out of the city for the purchase of any material this company can supply. Portland cannot afford, for the nominal saving of a few dollars, to fail to give so important a home industry is continuous and cheerful support.

* * *

The most important metal working plant in the northwest is that of the Oregon Iron & Steel Co., at Oswego, a small town on the Willamette river six miles above Portland. The magnitude of that enterprise is not popularly appreciated. It consists of one of the two iron mines and blast furnaces now in operation west of the Rockies, and the only pipe foundry west of St. Louis. There are invested in the plant $1,500,000. It daily takes from the ground raw material and turns out a product exceeding $1,000 in value, virtually creating that much wealth. About 200 hands, many of whom are skilled workmen, are regularly employed. The WEST SHORE is at considerable pains this week to present an account of the iron plant at Oswego, with the idea in view of more fully acquainting the popular mind with the extent of the business and to instill a better appreciation of its importance to the business community.

The ore bunkers and mine train.
The ore bunkers and mine train.

Of course, everybody, at least everybody in Portland, and most people throughout the northwest, has heard of the Oswego Iron mines and reduction and casting works, but how many have any just conception of what is done there? Let us investigate the matter a bit. But first it would be well to understand the relative locations of the mine and manufacturing plant. The blast furnace and pipe works are entirely separate establishments, situated nearly a quarter of a mile apart, on the west bank of the Willamette, just north of the old town of Oswego. The mine is located in a high hill about two and one-half miles west of the river and some 430 feet above it. Communication between the furnace and mine is by means of a narrow gauge railway owned and operated by the Iron & Steel company. To inspect the mine one (having previously obtained the proper passport, of course) had best board an ore train at Oswego station, which is reached from Portland by the Portland & Willamette Valley road. Landing at the ore bunkers the mine now being worked is reached by a walk of a few hundred feet. Having been provided with a small miner’s oil lamp the explorer is prepared to enter the very black and very forbidding looking hole in the side of the hill from which a car of ore shoots every few minutes. Instead of being sent down a deep shaft in an iron cage, one simply walks into the slope, taking care to avoid contact with the ore car as it is drawn out or drops back down the slope with great velocity. For a distance of 200 or 300 feet from the entrance to the slope the incline is quite sharp and care is required to avoid slipping in the mud that covers the floor. Then the dip of the vein is less pronounced, the slope becomes nearly level and the rooms are traversed with ease. This slope extends into the hill more than 800 feet, but there is no trouble from water, there being not even mud except near the entrance. In some places where the vein of ore was thin the excavated chamber is so low that one has to stoop very much to get through, and again where the vein was thicker the rooms are eight or nine feet high.

 

At the mine entrance.
At the mine entrance.

From the main slope there are numerous branches, known by the very ordinary name of rooms, extending into the ore stratum on either side. These excavated rooms are about eighteen feet wide, and the blocks of ore between the, left to sustain the roof, are about forty feet thick, so less than one-third of the ore body is removed as the mine is driven into the hill. When the slope has been worked as far as is profitable from one entrance, the miners take out the standing walls of ore, beginning at the farthest extremity so no ore will be lost by any caves that may occur as the supports are removed. When the roof appears weak the rooms are securely timbered to prevent caving, but where there is firm rock overhead it is left to support itself. As the miners have to do their own timbering it would seem as though those in the rock-roofed chambers had an advantage over their fellow workers in the softer ore, but the difference in the ease of working fully compensates for the extra labor of putting in the timber supports. In the soft ore only pick and shovel are necessary working implements. In the harder portions of the stratum the miners have to do a good deal of drilling and blasting.

“But how is it ascertained in the mine just where the valuable and worthless rocks meet?” To the unsophisticated it all looks alike when no more brilliant light than that radiating from a miners lamp struggles with the pitchy darkness. For answer, the superintendent, who is an experienced practical miner, took up a pick and hacked a little on the surrounding walls and roof. “There,” said he, striking into some base rock, “notice the mark left by the pick here; it is whitish. But here is another pick mark very near that is a distinct red: that indicates good ore. The color of the pick bruises guides the miner in determining the limits of the ore vein. The experienced miner is also governed to some extent by the sound.”

Miners at work.
Miners at work.

Generally two miners work a room together and are paid $1.00 a car for the ore loaded. Two men get out six loads a day, about twenty tons. They furnish their own light and powder, which costs each man about fifty cents a day. The daily output of the mine is about 150 tons of ore, which is a brown hematite.

When hauled out of the mine the ore is dumped into bunkers and is sifted into two grades, as regards fineness as it falls. From the bunkers it is taken in cars to the furnace where each car load is weighed and the large lumps are put through a crusher. From the pockets where deposited from the cars, the ore is taken in carts, carefully weighed again so as to accurately regulate the amount of the charge to correspond with given quantities of charcoal and limestone that go into the furnace with it, elevated to the top of the furnace and charged into the hopper. The proportions of charcoal and limestone and ore vary. After melting and being purified in the furnace, the molten metal is run off and cast into pigs in sand moulds. This process is faithfully shown in the colored picture in the center of this paper. At intervals and at the end of each casting the cinder, or slag, embracing the bulk of the impurities of the materials charged into the furnace, is drawn off and run out of doors. This is a product of no particular value, though it is sometimes crushed and used for paving streets, when not too hard and sharp.

Charging-small

 

The metal is drawn off twice each day, and cast into pigs of different qualities, according to the proportions of materials in the charges, the degree of heat employed and other considerations understood by workers of the craft. Different qualities of iron are obtained from the same casting. The metal is drawn off twice daily, about 5:00 o’clock a. m. and the same hour in the afternoon. Referring to the illustration, the process may be readily understood. The moulds are simply carefully formed trenches in the sand. The stream of molten metal flows down through the main trench direct from the furnace until the end is reached, where it is turned aside and fills the first set of moulds. Then the second set is filled, and so on until all the moulds are full, or until the blast is exhausted. Then the pigs are covered with the sand in which they are fun, and after a few minutes are sufficiently cooled to be pryed out of their beds by a crowbar, so that they may cool more rapidly. It is some time before they lose their red glow, however. When sufficiently cooled, the pigs of iron are loaded on cars and taken to the pipe works, or piled up to be sent to market as they are. Between twenty and thirty tons of pig iron are cast every day in the year.

The fuel for the stoves in which the air blast is heated is supplied by waste gas from the furnace. Cold air is taken into those stoves and circulated until is has a temperature exceeding 900 degrees, when it is discharged into the furnace, as required, by means of a blowing engine having a capacity of 12,000 cubic feet of air per minute. Both for heating the three immense stoves and for generating steam the only fuel is waste charcoal gas from the furnace. A smoke-stack 160 feet high furnishes a powerful draft.

Continuing the manufacturing process, the pig iron goes from the furnace to the pipe works. There it is broken in pieces, properly graded so as to make the particular quality of iron that gives the best service in cast pipes, and charged into the cupola for re-melting. The structure in which the pig iron is re-melted for casting is termed the “cupola.” While in the furnace the fuel is charcoal, in the cupola coke is used in order to better refine the iron by driving out carbon and silicon. The charges for the cupola consist of pig iron of various grades, limestone and coke. Each week day the casting of pipe begins between 8:00 and 9:00 o’clock in the morning, and continues from two to three hours. This work is pursued with perfect system, each man performing his duty with the accuracy of a machine.

The casting pit. From the West Shore (Nov. 2, 1889).
The casting pit. From the West Shore (Nov. 2, 1889).

The casting pit is a deep trench forming a little more than a semicircle, deep enough so that the top end of pipes twelve feet long is about waist-high to the workman standing on the ground. In this pit iron flasks, of the size it is desired to make the pipes, or moulds, are suspended. Within the flasks cores are inserted and the molten iron is run between the core and the flask, the space between the two determining the thickness of the pipe. A few minutes after pouring in the metal the cores are drawn by the powerful crane inside the semi-circular trench, and then the castings themselves are lifted out and rolled outside for cooling, and trimming, if there be any small imperfections that can easily be polished off. Then the pipes are tested by being subjected to hydraulic pressure, varying between 300 and 500 pounds, according to the specifications of the contract which is being filled. If the pipes are perfect they are dipped in tar, and when dry are ready for market. But very few of the castings are condemned, though any imperfections in the iron or inequality in thickness sends the pipe back to be broken up and put through the cupola again. In the efficiency of the plant and the general excellence of the product this institution is not excelled by any establishment in the country.

The cores about which the metal is run are made in the building. The center is a gas pipe, with numerous holes in it, so it acts as a flue through which gases generated by the combustion of the hay rope with which it is wound escape. In an adjoining building are machines employed in twisting rope which is wound around the center of the core before the coating of clay is put on. That earthy mixture is ground by heavy machinery and is about the same as that prepared for ordinary bricks. For the ends and certain other portions flour is mixed with it to give it cohesiveness. As the core is made it is turned in a sort of lathe, so the surface becomes perfectly even and of the requisite size for the inside of the pipe to be cast around it. The hay rope next the iron center of the core burns out from the heat of the metal. The center is thus relieved of pressure, so it can be easily withdrawn and the clayey coat of the core crumbles and falls out when the pipe is drawn from the flask. All the lifting and shifting work is done by the huge steam crane, which is a model machine, capable of handling ten tons at a lift.

Withdrawing pipes from the molds.
Withdrawing pipes from the molds.

From the cupola the metal for casting is drawn off into a large vessel called the ladle, about the shape of a large iron kettle. The metal is often too hot for casting safely when drawn, and then it is stirred until it becomes sufficiently cool, when the crane lifts and carries the ladle to the proper moulds and the molten metal is poured in. One ladleful is sufficient for several pipes of medium size. Of course, the ladle is too hot to handle with the hands, so it is tipped by means of a screw that holds it in any position desired. At intervals during the casting the cinder is drawn from the cupola, and when the day’s work is done the bottom is dropped and cleaned preparatory to receiving the charge for the next day’s casting. The lime escaping with the cinder is blown into fine, glass-like threads, that float in the air and collect on adjacent projections in a woolly body, somewhat resembling dandelion spikes. This is known as mineral wool, and it has a market value, but the demand is so light that it does not pay to save it.

Dipping pipes in coal tar.
Dipping pipes in coal tar.

The industry thus briefly sketched is the largest manufacturing plant in Oregon. The company owns a large tract of mineral and timber land about Oswego, and has a practically inexhaustible ore supply. This ore yields between thirty and forty per cent of metallic iron. The limestone used for flux is brought from Baker county in Eastern Oregon, and the coke from Puget sound. The charcoal consumed in the furnace is burned at the company’s kilns a few rods away. There are forty-two of these kilns, which are of the bee hive pattern. Each kiln produces about 5,000 bushels of coal per months, that being the amount yielded by two fillings of fifty cords each of fir wood.

The present plant of the Oregon Iron & Steel Company was newly constructed and placed in operation almost exactly a year ago. Away back in the 60s a mine was opened and reduction works built and operated for a few years, the first iron produced west of the Rocky mountains being turned out there. The first plant, with the advancement of methods and means for smelting and manufacturing iron, became too antiquated to permit of profitable working, and the works were shut down a few years. Then the new company, with abundant capital, took hold of the enterprise, opened a new mine, built a new furnace and added the pipe works, and equipped the whole plant in the best manner possible. The institution is thoroughly modern in every particular. The product is equal to the best turned out anywhere, and it is building up not only a reputation for itself, but for the state and the city of Portland as well. It certainly deserves the hearty encouragement of all business men.

 

Nov. 3, 1889, Daily Morning Astorian p2

The Oregon Iron & Steel company are shipping twenty tons of cast iron pipe and twenty tons of pig iron per day to San Francisco, which shows that there is a good demand for iron in California and also that Oregon is ready to supply it.

13-worker-on-top-of-pipe