Beautiful certificates from the Thew Automatic Shovel Company
issued no later than 1916. These historic documents have an ornate border around them with a vignette of an eagle. These items have the signatures of the Company’s President, Frank Arthur Smythe and Secretary, E. M. Pierce, and are over 93 years old.
A standard history of Lorain county, Ohio By George Frederick Wright - 1916
The Thew Automatic Shovel Company (Thew Steam Shovel). The principal distinction of some cities is that the name at once suggests a product of world wide use manufactured there. A number of instances will occur to anyone as familiar examples of this fact.
To the great world that regards such a city as Lorain as but a point on the map, the works by which the city is best known are undoubtedly the products of The Thew Automatic Shovel Company. In many widely sundered localities hundreds of thousands of people have seen and admired the excavating machinery of this type, and consciously or unconsciously have taken note of the name Thew linked with that of Lorain. In the work of mining in the gold fields of the far North the Thew Automatic Shovel is a favorite machine. In railroad construction, in street grading, in brickyards, coal mines, in almost every form of con- stract and construction work, the Thew Automatic Shovel reigns supreme. Among the thousands and thousands of men who follow the contracting business in America and different parts of the world, there is hardly one who is not acquainted with the efficiency of the Thew automatic shovel.
It is impossible to speak of this industry, which ranks second among the great concerns that have their home at Lorain, without paying a tribute to Richard Thew, who is vice president and general manager of the company, and whose brains and patient industry originated the first type of the Thew automatic shovel. His work of course was only the nucleus of the present mammoth concern. The company for years has employed expert engineers and skilled mechanics in the various departments, and this staff of experts also deserve credit, since it has been largely due to the co-operation of the heads of the various departments for the one and sole purpose of producing a machine of distinctive merit that The Thew Automatic Shovel Company represents what it does today. Mr. Thew, like most men of that class, began his industry many years ago at Lorain with very little capital, and has earned a high place both as an inventor and as an organizer.
It was in 1899 that The Thew Automatic Shovel Company was organized and started manufacturing operations on its present site at the western edge of the steel plant district in the City of Lorain. The product of the plant was then as it is now a steam shovel. The factory of that day covered about 15,000 square feet. In less than twenty years the home of the Thew shovel has increased in size as rapidly as its products have attained a world-wide distribution. The present plant covers many acres of ground, and is actually one of the cornerstones of Lorain County's industrial prosperity.
As the plant has developed so has its product. Though the original principles are still maintained in every steam shovel that is built, the design has been adapted for many varied purposes, and there is now a Thew shovel for practically every class of excavation. Most of the executive members of The Thew Company are practical engineers, and the results of test, experimentation and practical use have borne new fruit from year to year and the company is constantly striving to reach new standards of perfection.
Through long years of development and service this shovel has demonstrated its merit and adaptability to classes of work for which no ordinary steam shovel can be advantageously employed. The more typical operations in which the Thew shovel is employed are cellar excavation, shallow cutting for street paving, the cutting off of hills for road construction, widening and deepening railroad cuts, for stone quarry service, for the mining of anthracite coal by the stripping process, digging hydraulic ditches and for irrigation work, for working underground in mines and in tunnel construction, where the power is electricity or compressed air. In fact it would be difficult to enumerate every class of service to which the Thew automatic shovel has been put during the last twenty years. In size the shovels range from a fifteen ton machine, to be operated by one man and built for such typical work as brickyard and small excavation service, to the sixty-five ton digger-giant.
Unique features in design give the Thew shovel a place of prestige among machines of its type. Most important among these characteristics is what the Thew engineers call the "full swing" principle, by virtue of which a steam shovel of any type is enabled to describe with its boom and bucket, a full circle. The shovel swings through a complete circle, delivering the excavated material at any desired point, either at the side or in the rear of the machine. The value of this feature is obvious. However, the feature most characteristic of the Thew machines is what is known aji the "horizontal dipper crowding motion," or the "trolley motion." By this device the dipper bucket is carried directly forward without changing the angle of the bucket face with the ground. The advantages of this feature can also be readily understood by persons who are not practical engineers. There is a minimum of lost motion and power in the Thew excavator. This feature is of special advantage in street excavation and grading, since the dipper cleans a floor absolutely to the grade upon which the shovel is being operated.
Thus it is that the shovels which are performing a large share of the excavation work in the western continent are literally a Lorain product. It is also true that The Thew Automatic Shovel Company represents brains, organizing efficiency, industry and experience of a group of men. Their combined efforts, carried on through many years, have been crystallized within the towering walls that today enclose the home of the Thew steam shovel. More than twenty-two years ago Richard Thew turned his inventive genius to the creation of a steam shovel, designed for the handling of the ore and coal cargoes on the docks of lake ports. Thus the first Thew shovels were not excavation shovels at all, but were built primarily for unloading of cargoes. It is noteworthy that some of the modifications of standard shovels now in use include booms which make the Thew machine applicable for the work of clam shell buckets, there is another boom for use as a crane, there is a shovel with a sewer trench boom, especially adapted for the construction of trenches at considerable depth below the surface, and there are booms for handling of coke and for use in many other types of work.
The originator of these shovels was formerly a resident of Cleveland, and his first shovels were built in Cleveland shops. In recent years the machines turned out by the Lorain factory have been used almost over the entire civilized world. One of them was used in the building of the Panama Canal. They have been used for burrowing for gold upon the Arctic circle, they are helping to irrigate the deserts of New Mexico and other parts of the arid and semi-arid West, and they have been used for uncovering the granite in New Hampshire, for the mining of anthracite and bituminous coal, for the building of great tunnels.
It is therefore not difficult to understand that The Thew Automatic Shovel Company is one of Lorain's industrial foundation stones. Next to the mammoth plant of The National Tube Company, the factory of the shovel company is the largest in the city. The buildings are located at the corner of East Twenty-eighth Street and Fulton Road and are admirably adapted to manufacturing purposes. They furnish a floor area of many thousands of square feet, and approximately 500 men are employed the year around. The buildings are of brick built around a skeleton work of steel, and they present massive architectural outlines and represent in their facilities for lighting, heating and ventilation the best the engineering world has to offer in a factory building design. In the equipment of machinery the last word has been said in the matter of the Thew plant.
The officers of this Lorain County corporation are: F. A. Smythe, president; Capt. Richard Thew, vice president and general manager; and E. M. Pierce, secretary and treasurer.
History from OldCompany.com (old stock certificate research service).