The Trolly Track Industry

by Laurel | March 20th, 2014

29 March 1914

Coburn Trolly Track Manufacturing Company

Coburn Trolly Track Manufacturing Company Plan
in Willimansett

Moving Pictures of the Coburn Plant Seen at the Auditorium Exposition

Visitors to the Auditorium this week will have a rare opportunity to witness, through the medium of motion pictures, the making of various kinds of track, now used in most of the leading factories of the country, and also applicable to many other branches of industry. The Coburn Trolly Track Manufacturing Company of Holyoke is one of the largest and most complete concerns of its kind in the world, and its products have made an enviable reputation wherever tracks of any sort are needed. It would be impossible to give a complete list of the products turned out by so versatile a plant, but mention should be made of some of the most important, such as trolly tracks and hangers for barn doors, hangers for house doors and trolly sheds, carrying racks, tackle blocks, hoisting devices, cranes and doors with their fixtures.

The company was organized in February, 1888, with a capital stock of $10,000, which was increased a few years later to $150,000. The initial step in the business was the invention by Lemuel Coburn of a special form of enclosed track for sliding doors. The first plant was in a room about 50 by 30 feet in the basement of the old Whitcomb Building in Holyoke. In December 1891, the inventive genius of Mr. Coburn had manifested itself in adapting forms of the original contrivance to various uses, and the company moved into quarters formerly occupied by the Deane Steam Pump Company on Bigelow Street.

At this point the development of the company began in real earnest, and agencies were opened up in practically every city in the United States, with branch offices in Boston, new York, Philadelphia, Chicago, Cincinnati, Ohio, and Manchester, England. The business grew so that it was found necessary to hunt ip still larger quarters, and accordingly the company erected a plant of its own at Willimansett. The plant now occupies over two acres of ground as is equipped with machinery to take care of its ever increasing business. The company moved into its present buildings in 1900.

The value of the original patent granted to Lemuel Coburn is manifested by the fact that, in spite of many radical changes and improvements that have been made to meet new conditions, the same type of track has been adhered to that was originally made in the company’s first quarters. If being imitated means to be successful, the Coburn people can certainly lay claims to success, for no form of track was ever so closely imitated. now that the patents have expired, many forms in this country, England, and France have discarded their own plans to imitate the Coburn tracks.

One of the first side issues instituted was the making of tracks for ladders in stores, used to reach the high shelves where goods are kept.. Sliding door hardware has always offered the greated chance for variation. Under this heading are included all sorts of doors, from the closet door weighing a few pounds to the door weighing several tons. Also belonging to this class are automatic fire resisting doors which require special and carefully constructed hardware, to comply with the insurance laws. Conveying facilities were provided for by the manufacturing of suitable track for use in foundries, machine shops and other manufacturing enterprises. The organization of the company is as follows: President, Azro A. Coburn, Vice president and general manager, Willis D. Ballard; treasurer Willis D. Ballard; treasurer, George D. Miller. At the Springfield industrial exposition motion pictures will illustrate the manufacture of several of the products of the company.

Adapted from The Springfield Republican.

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