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Erie Street view of the Niles Car and Manufacturing
Mason Street view of the Niles Car and Manufacturing
History of the Niles Car and Manufacturing Company. By–Les
During the early twentieth century the Niles
Car and Manufacturing Company was founded in Niles. Beginning
operation in January, 1902, the company already had orders for
a number of cars to be used in Chicago. At this time the company
already employed 250 men. The cars made in Niles were ordered
from every state in the Union and could be customized to order.
Handsome wooden cars in various sizes, they were beautiful with
their Gothic windows, some of them fitted with leaded stained
glass or beveled glass.
The company also produced cars for hauling freight but were most
noted for the luxurious passenger cars which were in use from
coast to coast. Eventually other forms of transportation took
their place and now you can only see them in museums or other
special places where they have been preserved.
The Niles Car & Manufacturing Company was
formed in 1901 when the desire for interurban transportation was
at its peak. According to the company’s Articles of Incorporation,
the company “intended to manufacture and deal in all kinds
of street and railway cars, motors, steam engines, water tanks,
and acid tanks for all manufacturing and dealing in railway supplies
and appliances of all kinds.” Original investors included
G.B. Robbins, director of the Dollar Savings Bank, and
W. C. Allison, the Allison and Company planing mill president.
The mill’s property would eventually become the site of
The Niles Car & Manufacturing
Company, makers of one of the finest lines of plush electric cars
of the area, this building was located on the block bounded by
Erie, Girard (South Cedar), Allison Avenue and Mason Street. It
operated for 16 years before being converted to truck chassis.
Photo of one building of the Niles Car &
Manufacturing Co. taken from atop the water tower in the early
1900's. Mason Street is in the foreground.
Street car barn and a group of employees from
the Mineral Ridge-Niles electric railway.
Advertisement for the Niles Car & Mfg. Co.
Left Top: The interior
of car # 308 built by the Niles Car & Manufacturing Co. It
is now in the Indiana Museum of Transportation & Communication
in Noblesville, Ind. PO1.1435
Right top: Advertisement for the Niles Cars.
Right Middle: 58 foot wood interurban for the
Northern Electric Railway in California. The pullman features
all windows with arches to provide an abundanceof light into the
Right Bottom: a view of the Washington, Baltimore
& Annapolis car #64 which is also a classic wooden interurban.
Left Bottom: Interior view of the Niles Car &
Manufacturing Company about 1915 when the
streetcars were being phased out and truck chassis were being
Note the Nashville, Chatanooga & St. Louis
interurban car in the background.The production is shifting from
the production of fine lines of plush interurban pullman cars
as shown in the background of this photo to motor trucks as shown
by the truck chassis in the front.
The Niles Car barn bus belonged to the Mahoning Valley Electric
Railway Company. It was used to take the “track-walkers”
out to remote areas, where they would walk along the tracks with
a bucket of sand. They would sand the tracks where necessary and
make sure the switches were clean. The man holding the bucket,
was Joseph Marsico, a track walker for the company.
Left: The motormen and conductor stop to pose
for a photograph with Mahoning & Shenango Railway and Light
car #65 at Warren, Ohio.
Advertisement that appeared in the June 1916
Motor Age magazine describing the advantages and types of motor
trucks built by the Niles Car & Manufacturing Company.
Truck Production Begins.
For many years, the company built some of the
finest streetcars. But many are unaware of the short-lived truck
assembled in Niles, OH, by the same company.
On November 30, 1915, notice was given of a stockholders
meeting stating that a vote by three-fifths, the following clause
be added to the third item of the Articles of Incorporation: the
purpose of manufacturing and dealing in motor trucks, power vehicles,
and motor supplies and appliances of all kinds, and of doing machine
work of all description (entered by C. E. Rose, Sec’y
of the Niles Car & Manufacturing Co.)
Word of the added truck production spread across
the county. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette published the news of
the soon production of “high grade trucks” and that
the company operated an “immense factory.” The article
stated, “this company is well and favorably known all over
the United States”. Thus began the building of three sizes
of trucks in Niles.The smallest was the 1500-pound type for all
types of local deliveries, the medium weight for light draying,
and the biggest probably in the 5-ton range for heavy drayage.
Production was to begin in February of 1916.
At first, a limited number of these models were built. It was
later estimated somewhere between fifty to one hundred of each
type would be turned out, and agencies will be established. A
Mr. Hill from Ravenna was hired to oversee the production
and body design.
In April 1916, there were approximately three
dozen under production, but shipments hampered production due
to late shipments. Despite material delays, it was reported that
the 2-ton version chassis had its picture taken for catalog purposes;
the body which was installed was Niles road-ready.
Assembly line of truck chassis at the Niles Car
& Manufacturing Co. PO1.1530
Description of truck produced by the Niles Car
& Mfg. Company.
May 13, 1916, saw
the first truck shipped to a service station in Cleveland, with
several more in the construction phase. They were receiving many
inquiries and the future looked promising. Later that month, the
Niles Times published a help wanted ad for the truck assembly
plant. Delivery was made to the Friedman Transfer Company of Youngstown.
This truck used a patented worm drive rear end for propulsion
and was the finest tuned yet. A second delivery to the same company
soon followed within the week. By the end of July 1916, many trucks
were assembled and ready for shipment. Unfortunately, supply shortages
continued, increasing prices, resulting in dreaded delays.
By 1917, the company decided to cease producing
the electric rail car and focus exclusively on the production
of motor trucks as an assembled vehicle. Unfortunately, the company
entered a saturated market with little marketing experience.
Notice of Stockholders’ Meeting appeared
in the Niles News on May 31, 1917. Meeting to be held on the 11th
of June, 1917 at 2 o’clock P.M. for the purpose of considering
and acting upon a proposed agreement for the sale of the Real
Estate, Machinery, Tools and such further portion of the assets.
Per. Chas. E. Rose, Secy.
The March 10, 1918 issue carried a ¾ page
Announcement that The Niles Car and Manufacturing Co. had been
moved to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania after being purchased by Niles
Motor Truck Company.
Finally on October 1, 1926 it was reported that
the first steps toward the dissolution of the Niles Car and Manufacturing
Co. took place with the Bd. Of Directors at the Niles Trust Co.
Thus ending truck manufacturing in Niles.
Editor’s Note: During WWI, the
plant became Engel Aircraft, manufacturing components for airplanes.
Later it became Stevens Metal Products and in 1976 until the present
it was the home of Cleveland Steel Container Corporation at 412
Present day (2021) view of the Cleveland Steel
Container Corporation on Mason Street.