I received one of the coolest Easter gifts ever last Sunday. We had the whole family up for dinner at our home, and my father-in-law says, “come out to the car and help me with something.” First he hands me a small, glass tabletop and then the big surprise. He pulls out a 1962 Civil Defense water barrel/commode. Wow, what an awesome gift that only a historian could get excited about!
These steel barrels were stocked in public fallout shelters during the early 1960s. The Office of Civil Defense was preparing supplies in the event of nuclear exchange between the Soviet Union and the United States. The barrels were lined with a plastic bag, and then 17.5 gallons of water could be placed inside and sealed. When the water was gone, the barrel was re-purposed as a toilet. Could you imagine?! Check out the Civil Defense Museum for more information about this and other fallout shelter supplies.
It is amazing what you run into when you least expect it. I just so happened to find the former Allis-Chalmers Appleton Works in Appleton, Wisconsin, last weekend. It was fate when I caught a glimpse of the faded letters painted on the side of the factory complex. I started looking into this division of the company, and an AC friend of mine helped me out. He scanned me an article from a factory publication about the Appleton plant.
Before becoming the Allis-Chalmers Appleton Work, this factory was the Fox Valley Iron Works that was established in 1882. The company manufactured machinery primarily used for paper milling. Allis-Chalmers acquired the firm in 1959, and it became the Appleton Works in 1965. This new division gave AC a foot in the paper milling machinery market. AC stated that the Appleton Works built complete machines from start to finish. Other manufacturers built specific components for milling equipment, but AC built it all in Appleton. Whatever could not be built at the Appleton plant was built by other AC divisions.
Here is more information about Appleton Works.
MKE Sentinel April 5, 1985
I ran into an interesting piece of Neenah history today. This was the door of a Bergstrom Manufacturing Company furnace. There were some other parts and components, but the door was an amazing piece with the company’s name on it. I am unable to find any pictures or information about this furnace. I was able to turn up a short history on the company. If anyone has information or pictures of this furnace, I would like to see what it looked like.