In mid-1916 several businessmen in the automobile industry quietly began work on establishing a new firm to be located in the vicinity of New Castle, Pennsylvania. In November 1916 the New Castle Board of Trade spent $20,000 to acquire about sixty-two acres of the Samuel Gibson farm on the Butler Avenue Extension in Shenango Township. The money had been raised through a subscription drive of local businessman, with politician/realtor George T. Weingartner giving the most at $1,000. The East New Castle area had been growing as an industrial center with the Lehigh Portland Cement Company and Federal Radiator Company (later National Radiator) already established nearby.
The Board of Trade soon donated twenty-one acres of the former Gibson farm to the new concern, which was to be known as the Pull-More Motor Truck Company. The remaining property, held as the New Castle Public Service Land Company, would be held in reserve to bring in other new industries. The Buffalo, Rochester, and Pittsburgh Railroad (BRP) began laying a short stretch of track (from the nearby cement plant) to service the proposed auto plant.
Businessman Clare De Shane purchased the remaining property of the New Castle Public Service Land Company (and numerous smaller surrounding lots) in September 1918 and sold them off at profit.
The New Castle News of Friday, November 3, 1916, elaborated on how the auto plant was conceived by reporting, “The story of how New Castle secured this important industry dates back to last August. At that time Attorney Mont L. Ailey learned that some Pittsburg and Detroit men were contemplating the erection of a plant at Salem, Ohio. Mr. Alley told W. Scott Radeker, a brother of Junius Radeker commissioner of the board of trade. Scott told Junius and Junius wrote to Attorney Kenneth Cunningham of Pittsburg, who it was learned, was interested in the organization of the company. As a result of the letter arrangements were made to have the men interested in the formation of the company visit New Castle.”
The Pull-More Motor Truck Company, led by President E. M. F. Young, soon began the erection of auto plant at the site with plans to manufacture high quality work trucks. The plant was completed in the spring of 1917 as they experimented with a prototype of their specially-designed truck. A shortage of steel supplies due to the events of the Great War (World War I) led to a real lack of progress. By early 1918 the plant was basically idle as little work was being performed. Local investors pressured for action and in April 1918 a Pittsburgh-based judge appointed a receiver to seize control of the Pull-More Motor Truck Company.
Before too long the assets of the Pull-More Motor Truck Company were sold to a group of automobile men represented locally by Frank W. Bacon, who had recently come to New Castle after being associated with an auto plant in Omaha, Nebraska. Efforts got underway to bring in investors and about a year later the Bacon Motor Company was officially formed. It was led by President Frederick C. Van Derhoof, soon to resign as general manager of the Standard Steel Car Company of Pittsburgh, and Bacon, serving as Vice President.
Just as this announcement was made an unfortunate accident claimed the life of Frank W. Bacon. He was killed on November 27, 1919, near Cumberland, Maryland, while traveling to visit his daughter in Washington D.C. His wife was also with him but survived her injuries. Van Derhoof continued his efforts to get the plant operating with plans to manufacture light cars. By the summer of 1920 the plant was in operation, but faced a struggle due to an economic downturn following the conclusion of World War I. Little actual production was undertaken at the plant and it was closed in early May 1921. The company was at least $10,000 in debt and a receiver was appointed in October 1921 to sell off the assets.
In early 1922 a group of local automobile enthusiasts began serious efforts to hold the New Castle Auto Show in the vacant auto plant building. The show was held from March 13-18, 1922, and was a big success. Among those providing nightly entertainment was the Croton School Band, which performed on Friday evening, March 17.
In August 1922 the property was acquired by the Fisher Brothers Dry Goods Company, with plans to open a clothing factory specializing in manufacturing overalls, work shirts, dungaree pants, and other sturdy work clothes for the workplace. The Fisher Brothers store, located in downtown New Castle and owned and operated by Mike, Ed, and Dan Fisher, would operate the business as a subsidiary known as the Buckeye Garment Manufacturing Company in the former auto plant. By early 1923 the factory, supervised by Mike Fisher, was in operation and with about 200 employees. The finished products were shipped by rail to various retails stores around the region. The business thrived for some time, but was closed down in January 1932 as the Fisher Brothers downsized during the Great Depression.
Several potential buyers explored acquiring the property. In June 1933 the National Pants Company of Washington D.C. took a lease out on the factory and began operations there a month later. They continued to produce sturdy clothing suitable for the blue collar workplace. National Pants also operated about seven other plants. In July 1948 the company announced it would close New Castle factory by the end of the year. The factory began phasing out operations and closed in late December 1948. Most of the employees were offered positions at the National Pants factory in Beaver Falls.
In late 1948 a group of local men purchased the stock of the Pittsburgh Piping and Equipment Company, based in Pittsburgh, and relocated its operations to New Castle. In January 1949 they leased (and later purchased) and began moving into the old National Pants factory. They soon changed the name of the business to Welding Fittings Company and specialized in manufacturing stainless steel pipe fittings for ½-inch to 12-inch pipes. This company, which changed its name to Flowline Corporation in 1958, is still in operation at the location today.
To read an obituary that appeared in the New Castle News in November 1919 for Frank Bacon click on: BACON OBITUARY.
This large building, designed as an auto plant, was put in operation on the Butler Road by the Pull-More Motor Truck Company in 1917. That business quickly folded. The property became home to the Bacon Motor Company from 1920-1921, the Buckeye Manufacturing Company from 1922-1932, the National Pants Company from 1933-1948, and the Welding Fittings Co (later known as Flowline) beginning in 1949. (c1920) Full Size
A prototype of the work truck designed by the Pull-More Motor Truck Company of New Castle. The plant was opened in the spring of 1917 but a shortage of steel supplies made production almost impossible. The plant was soon idle. The company folded in early 1918 and its assets were acquired by the Bacon Motor Company. (1917) Full Size
A major Auto Show was held in the building during March 13-18, 1922. (1922) Full Size