Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

Opinion

November 30, 2013

NIAGARA DISCOVERIES: Eighteen Mile Creek enabled industrial giants

(Continued)

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — After World War I, the company began making bases for radio tubes and developing products made of synthetic plastics, including collaborating with Eastman Kodak to manufacture an inexpensive camera in 1933. Later in the 1930s the company began to make car parts for Cadillac and LaSalle automobiles. It also produced Bakelite for use in pot and pan handles and other cooking equipment. 

The company was bought by Auburn Plastics in 1958 and continued production until 1981, when the plant closed unexpectedly under unexplained circumstances.

•••

United Indurated Fibre Company was started in Lockport in 1885, with a three-story building on the south side of the Gooding Street hill across the road from Eighteen Mile Creek.

Its products were made from wood pulp, the advantage of which is that products made from it would not shrink, swell, leak, water-soak or rust. Wood is a non-conducting material, so the outer surface would stay cool when filled with the hottest liquid.

The problem with wood pulp is that it is very flammable. In 1893, the buildings were destroyed by fire and rebuilt across the creek on Mill Street. Fires occurred again in 1900, 1909 and two in 1915. With the continued risk of fire and the production of galvanized steel containers, the company ceased operation in 1922.

•••

Today, these industries are gone and the area has become a mecca for industrial historians and archeologists.

Ann Marie Linnabery is the assistant director of the History Center of Niagara.

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