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Mann_Reedsville_Narrows.jpg

At the entrance to Mann's Narrows, the original roadway crossed the railroad at grade. The Lewistown & Reedsville Electric Railway crossed overhead. 

 

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manns crossing  

 

Lower Mann

Station (Gone by Period Modeled)

Listed in 1923 CT1000.

Not listed in the 1945 CT1000. (Passenger service ceased in 1941.)

Lower Mann shelter, 1917:1917 lower mann shelter  

J. H. Mann Estate No. 1 (No Longer Rail-Served by Period Modeled)

Listed in 1923 CT1000.

Not listed in the 1945 CT1000. 

Adam J. Gotshall (Gone by Period Modeled)

Listed in 1923 CT1000.

Not listed in the 1945 CT1000. 

Mann

American Axe and Tool Co. (Gone by Period Modeled)

Listed in 1900 CT1000. Not listed in the 1923 or 1945 CT1000's. 

In 1835 William Mann, Jr., built a factory in the narrows of Kishacoquillas Creek (now Mann Narrows), at the base of Jacks Mountain between Reedsville and Yeagertown. Around 1840 a second shop was acquired in Yeagertown, mainly devoted to finishing of axe heads and making of other edge tools. Two of William’s brothers – Harris and Robert – were put in charge of the Lower Shop as part of William Mann & Co. Robert left in 1847 to start his own business at Mill Hall. When William Jr. died in 1855, the Reedsville works were left to his sons, James H. and William III. They were only 22 and 18 years old. While on a business trip in 1876, William III would die tragically in a boiler room explosion of a steamboat on the Ohio River. Several of James’ sons ‒ Frank, Walter, and Percy ‒ would later join the business.


Factory capacity in 1855 was 500 axes per day. Brand names included “William Mann Superior” and “William Mann’s Celebrated Axes.” In March 1868, James added a trademarked label (no. D-2948), “The Red Warrior,” which became a prominent name in the industry. Location was indicated by the wording, “Manufactured Near Lewistown Penna.” James also pioneered use of colorful paper labels. By the 1880s, the Reedsville factory was turning out an average of 1,400 axes per day. In November 1880 the plant was damaged extensively by fire. It took three months for production to resume.

In 1881, James acquired the Pennsylvania Axe Co., located at Cold Springs Forge near Tyrone in Blair County. This factory could produce about 400 axes per day and employed 40 workers. The Reedsville plant was expanded and steam power was added. Total capacity was now 2,000 axes per day. Around 1889 the plant was damaged again by a flood, and then in 1890 the factories were purchased by the Axe Trust. The Reedsville plant continued to operate and James was made treasurer, while Frank was appointed plant superintendent. The plants at Yeagertown and Tyrone were closed as the Trust attempted to reduce overall industry capacity and increase prices. Production was consolidated at Beaver Falls and Glassport, near Pittsburgh.

The Reedsville factory was finally closed in late 1903. Remnants of the works are still visible along the banks of Kish Creek, including portions of a mill race, protective stone walls, and footings of the dam and railroad spur. Above the creek sits the Mann Mansion, built in 1858. Downstream are remains of bridge foundations for a trolley-line that operated between Lewistown and Reedsville from 1900 to 1932. On the second floor of the Mifflin County Courthouse hangs a large painting (dated 1905) of the once active plant.

Around 1901, James left the Trust and built a new plant in Yeagertown. Early brand labels used by James H. Mann Co. included the “Juniata Axe” and “Blue Juniata.” A fire destroyed the plant in 1911, but it was rebuilt using structural steel. After James died in 1904, his sons operated the plant until 1923, when it was sold to Collins. Reports are that Collins continued to produce axes at Yeagertown until 1927 or possibly as late as 1940. Mann Ave exists today as a reminder of the town’s industrial past and at the end of Rosemont Ave sits the William Mann Jr. Mansion.

Mann_Reedsville_Narrows.jpgWilliam Mann Jr. Axe Works (ca. 1900). The large building with smokestacks in the photo was added after 1877. An 1884 Mann catalog refers to the site as the “Hollis Works.”

 mann grinding shop

1920px Manns Narrows upstream
Axe Works at Mann Narrows (ca. 1885).

1920px Mann Narrows DownstreamMann Narrows (ca. 1885).

 

Station (Gone by Period Modeled)

Listed in 1900 CT1000.

Not listed in the 1923 or 1945 CT1000's. (Passenger service ceased in 1941.)

  Mann water tank, 1917:1917 mann water tank