A History of the Iron Industry
in Champlain, New York
Champlain Agricultural Works
Sheridan Iron Works
The Town of Champlain has always been a
major industrial hub in Clinton County. In
its first 100 years since it was founded by Pliny
Moore in 1788, the Great Chazy River and Corbeau
Creek powered dozens of sawmills, grist mills and
flax mills. Between the 1820s and 1840s, the
roots of the iron industry were planted. At
the same time, boat building commenced along the
Great Chazy River.
most enduring industry in Champlain was the
foundry business. Two iron foundries were
established in the Village of Champlain - the
Champlain Agricultural Works in 1820 and a small
iron foundry in 1840 that eventually evolved into
the Sheridan Iron Works/Harris Graphics after many
ownership and name changes. The
Champlain Agricultural Works was in existence for
about 90 years and the foundry that became
Sheridan was in existence for almost 150
years. Very few companies in the United
States today can claim a 150 year existence.
This is the story of Champlain’s enduring foundry
Champlain Historic Calendar for a complete
history of the iron industry in Champlain
including the Sheridan Iron Works.
GRAPHIC ARTS INDUSTRY
CHAMPLAIN, N. Y.
In 1788 . . .
Pliny Moore and
five other bold spirits arrived in what is
now the Village of Champlain to establish
homes for themselves in the virgin
wilderness. Their first community
project was the building of a sawmill near
the site of the present water-works. A
grist-mill soon followed, and later a
fulling-mill—thus was Industry established
The Iron Age . .
Champlain in 1820. In that year
Solomon Bostwick, the local cabinet and
furniture maker, listed "Wood Patterns for
Castings" among his items. These were
used by the Champlain Agricultural Works,
established in the same year; their products
included plows of various types, mowers,
tedders and rakes, churns, corn shellers,
and other farm equipment. This latter
concern continued operations as late as the
A Second Foundry
. . .
in 1840 by Thomas Whiteside on the corner of
Main and Cedar Streets. In 1847 it was
leased to David Finley and James S.
Smith. The following year the machine
shop connected with it burned down, but was
soon rebuilt and the business continued
there for six years.
Finley and Smith
. . .
in 1854 built a
new foundry on the site of the present
Sheridan Iron Works. It consisted of a
two-story brick machine shop, 40 x 80, and a
brick foundry building, 40 x 100, containing
two cupolas—both structures still in use
today. They made steam engines and
boilers, circular saw mills, iron water
wheels, brass and iron castings, stoves and
pumps—also car wheels for the Northern (now
Rutland) Railroad. The years that
followed saw changes in ownership and name:
D. Finley & Co., H. W. Clark & Co.,
Champlain Foundry & Machine Shops,
Champlain Iron Works, Sheridan Iron
Works—but it is the only one in the North
Country with a history of 120 years.
In 1880 . . .
Foundry & Machine Shops was purchased by
Averill and Kellogg. The machinery was
overhauled, and the patterns and equipment
of the Ely Foundry of Northfield, Vermont,
were purchased. An office was opened
in New York City in 1886. Their shipments
during this period consisted of letter
presses, standing presses, inkers, and other
The T.W. and
C.B. Sheridan Co. . . .
half-interest in the company in 1887, which
has since become full ownership, and changed
the name to the Sheridan Iron Works.
The years since have been ones of steady
development in buildings, equipment,
techniques and products, until today it is
among the leaders in the Guild of the
Graphic Arts. To Alfred Bredenberg,
Chief Engineer for many years, may be
credited much of this advance. Among
his inventions are the Sheridan Book
Covering Machine, the Bookbinder, the
Casemaker, and the line of Sheridan Presses.
Bookbinding Machinery . . .
is today in use
throughout the entire world in the mass
production of books and periodicals.
Telephone books of New York, Chicago, Los
Angeles, and other metropolitan areas, mail
order catalogues of Sears, Roebuck and of
Montgomery Ward, and such magazines as
Readers Digest, Life, Time, and The Ladies
Home Journal—these are but a few of the many
publications which are produced on Sheridan
. . .
are used in
countless plants in the automotive,
aircraft, textile, leather, chemical, and
kindred trades. The packaging industry has
in recent years assumed a position of
increasing importance in the field of
merchandising, and today a large percentage
of all corrugated cartons are made on the
Sheridan Cutting and Creasing Press.
During World War
2 . . .
a line of
presses was developed for the simultaneous
stretching and forming of sheet metals—of
particular importance in the aircraft
industry. Some of these machines
weighed as much as a hundred and eighty
tons. Every major aircraft manufacturer in
the country used the Sheridan
Sheridan . . .
became a Union
Shop in 1938, affiliating with the American
Federation of Labor. In 1942 it became
Local 1065 of the International Association
of Machinists. The Sheridan-Union
relationship has been cited in Labor
publications as an outstanding example of
mutual co-operation. The Union has, in
addition to its primary functions,
participated wholeheartedly in all community
activities, with particular emphasis on
those pertaining to the development of our
Club . . .
about forty-five members, all of whom have
been at Sheridan for thirty years or
more. And with an average of two
hundred and fifty employees, there are often
as many as twenty families represented by
two — and at times three —generations
employed at the same time.
Iron Works . . .
self-contained plant—making its own designs,
patterns and castings, and machining and
assembling on the spot. And it may truly be
said that scarcely a person in America—in
the world—does not daily come in contact
with some product that has passed through a
Sheridan machine—made in Champlain.
* * *
T. W. & C. B. SHERIDAN COMPANY
ST., NEW YORK, N.Y.