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Laughlin Nail Mill in 1886

from THE WHEELING DAILY INTELLIGENCER, " Special Natural Gas Edition", September 14, 1886.
View Special Edition in its entirety.

Laughlin Nail Co.


Another Brilliant Example of the Sagacity of Wheeling Men Among the industrial establishments on the Ohio side of the river established and successfully operated by Wheeling brains, one of the most interesting and important is that of the Laughlin Nail Company, whose mill at the north end of Martin's Ferry, when the improvements now in progress are completed, will embrace the most extensive nail factory in the world, and one of the most complete establishments in other respects. The Laughlin has evinced more enterprise at divers times than almost any other mill. Its factory has twice been burned, but each time rebuilt, operations being commenced as soon as the ruins were fairly cold. The first fire was in August 1881 and the second last fall.

The present company assumed charge of the mill in March, 1878. The factory then had a capacity for making only about 2,500 kegs of nails per week. The mill was built in 1874 by the Ohio City Nail Works Company, which owned a patent on a barbed nail, of which great things were expected. The original outfit was 50 machines, with additional room for as many more. The location was good, offering facilities for both rail and river shipment and plenty of coal being conveniently accessible. The company was never successful, financially, and the mill was forced to a sale in 1878.


The Laughlin Nail Company came into existence and purchased the mill just in time to enjoy the advantages of the wonderful activity in the iron trade, amounting to a veritable "boom," which was experienced in 1878, `79 and `80. From the inception of the present company until to-day there has never been a time in the history of the company when it was not prosperous and growing. Starting in 1878 with a limited capacity and the inauspicious influence of the company which had preceded it, the names of the gentlemen interested in the new concern at once won for it the confidence of the public, and their capacity, foresight and experience started the mill at once on the high road to prosperity.

After the disastrous fire of 1881, by which the whole mill was wiped from the face of the ground, it was rebuilt upon a new and improved plan, with its capacity more than doubled, the new factory having facilities for turning out 6,000 kegs of nails per week. The new buildings were much more modern and substantial than the old, and nothing was omitted which tended to increase the facilities or contributed to the comfort of the employes. The mill has since been a favorite one with the most skillful of the nail workers of the Ohio Valley.

In 1885 the factory was again extended, its weekly capacity being increased fifty per cent, so that it was able to turn out 9,000 kegs of nails per week.

The fire of 1885 was at once taken advantage of to again greatly enlarge the mill. Thirty-five more machines are being added, which will give the company a capacity for manufacturing, when completed, the enormous sum of 12,000 kegs of nails per week. The new factory will be when completed the most extensive nail factory in the world.


Such an extensive manufacturing concern must inevitably attract the attention of the world. In all other respects as well it reflects resplendent credit upon Wheeling brains and Wheeling enterprise. The factory will be of the most modern construction, built entirely of iron, and will leave nothing to be desired in a factory of its kind. The mill is eligibly located, the construction of the C., L. & W. branch through its premises, now under way, giving it still greater transportation facilities. Its valuable coal property has been abandoned, and the mill, including the new factory, is now being piped throughout for natural gas. Its location at the point where the Wheeling Natural Gas Company's pipes enter Ohio gives it unusual advantages for the employment of the new fuel.

The present organization is presided over by Mr. William L. Glessner, President of the company and General Superintendent of the works. H.W. Ford is the capable mill manager and H.L. Wetherald the efficient factory manager.

The company's product is steel nail exclusively from steel made by the plant at Mingo, of which this company is half owner and Mr. Glessner Vice-President. The Laughlin's nails have done much to enhance the brilliant reputation of the Wheeling steel nails. Its new factory will be completed inside of another month, and it may then be counted upon to still further extend the fame of the Nail City and her products.

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