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"History of Eau Claire County Wisconsin, 1914, Past and Present"


Chapter  34 - Eau Claire Industries

The Phoenix Manufacturing Company

(-as transcribed from pages 476 - 478)


The Phoenix Manufacturing Company, one of the largest as well as one of the oldest industries of Eau Claire, now in the fifty-third year of its existence, stands out as a landmark marking progress in the manufacturing industries of the city.  In 1861 the business was organized for the purpose of building and repairing sawmill machinery, general millwright and machinist work.

The location selected at that time was on the bank of the Eau Claire river at a point now occupied by the Eau Claire Bedding Company. The present location was selected and the business moved to it in 1874.

In looking over the history of the Chippewa Valley for the past fifty years, it will be found that the Phoenix Manufacturing Company played an important part in the drama of commercial life.

In every sawmill could be found Phoenix machinery strictly up to the times. The band mill now used in all up-to-date mills was brought out by this firm as early as 1887, when the Empire Lumber Company was equipped with what was then known as the Esplin mill. A number of these were made and distributed.  In 1890 a new style of band mill known as the Emerson type was constructed and a great number distributed through the States as well as Canada. Again in 1895 further improvements were made and another mill placed on the market, still further improvements were made and the famous Phoenix light band mill was produced, which is known from ocean to ocean and from gulf to northland as the mill making the largest cut of perfect sawed lumber for the least outlay.

Not only band mills but other sawmill machinery was developed and brought up to date as fast as the requirements and conditions demanded, until in every lumber state as well as many foreign lands machinery and tools made by the Phoenix  Manufacturing Company are to be found in use.

This company has made it possible for the lumberman to log by steam. The log-hauling engine, being a necessity, can now be seen at work in all the northern lumbering states and Canada, while in far-off Alaska one of these engines and a string of sleighs are to do duty. This engine has now been further developed so as to work on dirt roads as well as on snow and will be used in the west hauling wagon trains of ore from the mines.

A gasoline tractor of the centipede type is being perfected and put on the market, which is another advance movement along the line of hauling either on dirt roads or ice and snow roads.

The logging sleighs, snow plows and machinery for making logging roads; the car stake pockets that we see on all trains of logs on our railroads, are products of these works, having been developed by men who are in actual touch with this class of work and understand its needs.

A new machine for clearing land is now being built, capable of clearing from six to eight acres a day, pulling the stumps and piling them, leaving the land ready for the farmer or settler. The big waterworks pumps that supply water to the cities of Eau Claire and Chippewa Falls night and day are the product of this company.

This company began business in 1861 under the firm name of Graham & Tolles. In 1865 more capital was needed and two partners were taken in, the firm name being changed to Graham, White & Company. In 1875 the company was incorporated under the laws of Wisconsin with a capital stock of $50,000. In 1893 this was increased to $150,000, and in 1909 again increased to $200,000.

Thus the Phoenix Manufacturing Company, which fifty-three years ago undertook to supply a need with a capital of less than $5,000, has grown to a concern doing hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of business each year, at the same time keeping up to date in all the lines of manufacture, as can be seen by its correspondence, which extends to every state and territory. Germany, Italy, Russia, Finland, Siberia, Cuba, Japan, British Islands, Africa, Philippines, Mexico, Australia, as well as Alaska and Canada, are interested in machinery tools and equipment made by the Phoenix Manufacturing Company.

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