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Iron and Steel Foundry and Machine Companies, 1850-1950

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This page was last updated on November 6, 2018.

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(This is a work in progress; research continues.)


Information about the foundries and machine shops in Utah, 1850 to 1950, that helped form Utah's industrial base, especially the mines, mills, and factories. These were the companies that make machines that make machines. They make "big iron" that keeps industry going.

As a side note, the railroads all had their own foundries and machine shops. Union Pacific at Salt lake City and Rio Grande at Salt Lake City. Southern Pacific and Union Pacific shared a facility at Ogden, until 1927 when UP built a new roundhouse and back shop, leaving SP in the previously shared facility.

Silver Brothers

The Silver Brothers shop was in Salt Lake City. Their address was 540 West Seventh South. Although Silver Brothers itself is gone, that original building is still there, with numerous additions that were added over the years.

The Silver Brothers Iron Works began with William J. Silver, an early Mormon pioneer, born in London, England, who founded one of the earliest foundries and machine shops in Utah. The company created many significant works, such as the cast oxen for the Salt Lake City LDS Temple and the iron fence surrounding the Brigham Young cemetery. Silver's three sons took over the company and renamed it the Silver Brothers Iron Works and began to manufacture machinery for Utah's sugar beet industry.

July 24, 1897
"One of the important manufacturing enterprises of Salt Lake City, and one which has added much to the prosperity of the city, is the iron works of Silver Bros. 149 West North Temple street. The plant is one of the largest in the West and is thoroughly equipped in every particular." "The Silver brothers manufacture steam engines, boilers, mining, milling, smelting machinery and implements. They also manufacture building fronts and other iron work for large buildings. In the line of general machine work this firm is prepared to undertake contracts of any nature, simple of intricate." "The business was established in 1863 by Mr. W. J. Silver, the present firm succeeding him. The members of the firm are Messrs. Joseph A., Hyrum A. and John A. Silver. they came to Salt Lake in 1859 when in boyhood." (Deseret Evening News, July 24, 1897)

In 1898, the Silver Brothers Iron Works Company, Salt Lake City, Utah was incorporated to manufacture machinery structural iron and steel work. John A. Silver was president, Hyrum A. Silver vice-president and Joseph A. Silver treasurer, secretary and manager.

June 15, 1899
"At the Silver Brothers Iron works company Manager Joseph A. Silver was so busy that he could hardly take time to tell The Review what his company had been doing during the past two weeks, but it was learned that during this period the concern had filled an order for a friction drum for the Swansea company; a beet wheel for the Utah Sugar company, a mining cage for the Victoria mine, ten ore cars for the Grand Central, besides which 30,000 pounds of casting had been turned out for the Highland Boy smelter." (Salt Lake Mining Review, June 15, 1899)

Silver Brothers moved from their location on West North Temple street, to a larger location at 7th South and 5th West (today's 600 West). (Salt Lake Herald, November 5, 1915)

August 18, 1912
The first steel made in Utah was by Silver Brothers in 1912. Silver Brothers was where Copper Belt sent its wrecked Shays for repairs on at least three occasions.

(Read the "Silver Brothers, Steel Makers" article from the August 18, 1912 Salt Lake Tribune)

November 1915
Silver Brothers Iron and Foundry Works was reorganized in November 1915 as the Salt Lake Iron & Steel Co., with members of the Silver family still as members of the board. James W. Silver was to be general manager of the new company. The articles of incorporation were to be filed "today." (Salt Lake Herald, November 5, 1915)

(John A. Silver died on March 22, 1916.)

The reorganization of the company was due to debt and other losses. One of the grandsons of the original William J. Silver, James Watson Silver, although named as general manager, left the company in May 1916 and moved to Ogden and founded the Ogden Iron Works, which manufactured machinery for the sugar beet and mining industries. He was apparently the last of the Silver family associated with the former Silver brothers company, after Joseph A. Silver retired earlier in 1916. Ogden Iron Works went out of business in 1991.

On January 1, 1924, Salt Lake Iron & Steel Company was taken over by Pittsburg Boiler Machine Co. of Pittsburg, Kansas. (Salt Lake Mining Review, December 30, 1923)

June 15, 1924
"W. H. Sagstetter, president of the Salt Lake Iron & Steel Co. announced a few days ago that his company had began the purchase of pig iron from the Columbia Steel Corporations works at Ironton, the first carload having been delivered on the June 2nd. Mr. Sagstetter's company will use about 100 tons of this Utah pig iron a month to begin with and in the near future it is expected the plant's requirements will call for 250 tons a month and more. This Utah iron product will be utilized in the fabrication of castings and materials used by local and intermountain concerns in construction work and industrial purposes." (Salt Lake Mining Review, June 15, 1924)

May Foundry

Lundin & May Foundry & Machine Company, "since 1912." Changed to May Foundry & Machine Company in 1963 when Jack F. May bought out the Lundin family interests.

Lundin & May Foundry, along with Silver Brothers Iron Works (later as American Foundry & Machine), and the Galigher Machinery Company, was one of the big three go-to companies for anything big, heavy and industrial in Salt Lake City.

Galigher Machinery Company

Galigher Machinery Company filed its articles of incorporation on September 9, 1909. "An important enlargement of one of the old business concerns of the city in order to keep pace with the growth of the city and the constantly increasing business. The old company, which has been known as the Utah Mining Machinery and Supply company, is located at 230 South West Temple street just south of the Dooly block, and was started in 1902." "No other change will be made in the company. The location will be retained as at present, there being ample space in which to expand in the present building, and the stockholders and officers of the company will be the same." (Salt Lake Tribune, September 10, 1909)

Galigher Machinery Company was located at 224-234 South West Temple street, and on the same block at 141-163 Pierpont Avenue. "It is the largest and most important business of its kind between Denver and San Francisco." (Salt Lake Herald, November 26, 1911)

The Galigher company was the supplier of Ingersoll-Rand compressors and tools for mines throughout the Utah, Nevada and Idaho markets.

Galigher Machinery announced on August 31, 1916 that it was moving to to facilities at 8th South and 5th West, east of the Portland cement works. The company had been at its location on Pierpont Avenue for the past 13 years. The new site was 330 feet by 330 feet, and the new machine shop building would be 330 feet by 60 feet, with a new warehouse measuring 250 feet by 260 feet. "The Galigher Machinery company manufactures mining and concentrating machinery, and also that used in sugar manufacturing." Plans were to start using the new facilities after January 1st, 1917. The move took place in late February. (Salt Lake Tribune, August 31, 1916; September 24, 1916, with illustration; Salt Lake Mining Review, February 28, 1917)

The successor company, Prime Machine, Inc., is still in business today at the same location on 8th South, between 5th and 6th West.

More Information

Foundry article at Wikipedia

Machining article at Wikipedia