City’s Auto Industry Focus Of Fenton Lecture Series

A trustee of the Fenton History Center provided a handful of history and auto enthusiasts with insight into Jamestown’s once thriving automobile industry.

On Wednesday, Art Osterdahl presented a look at automobile manufacturing within and around Jamestown city limits during this month’s “Brown Bag Lunchtime” lecture series at the Fenton.

“At the turn of the last century, Jamestown was the place to be for recreation and industry,” Osterdahl said. “There were probably 2,000 makes of cars that were built from 1900 to about 1930. Most of them were just washed out for one reason or another. For some of these cars, the deck was stacked against them, and some of them were just airbrushed together as no more than stock swindles. And (their presence in) the city of Jamestown was no exception.”

Osterdahl’s presentation tracked the automobile industry from its humble steam- and electricity-powered beginnings in the late 19th century up through the last car model to be manufactured in Jamestown in the late 1950s.

Some of the vehicles making an appearance in Jamestown included: the Duquesne, an E. Leroy Pelletier design of which six were made; the Jacobson, which appears to have never seen production but was alluded to in a Len Larson article in a local periodical known as, “Runningboard Rundown”; the Hess, an early cyclecar design; the Burroughs Cyclecar, which is unlikely to have been produced in the Jamestown area but probably saw production in Ripley; the Chautauqua Cyclecar; Chautauqua Electric Car Inc., which was a stock swindle; the Dart Cyclecar; the Birmingham, a well-made vehicle of plywood construction; and the Bloomquist.

Osterdahl also made mention of the Jamestown-based industries involved in the manufacturing of automotive parts from 1904 to the present day. The companies included: Dahlstrom Corporation; Gabrielson Manufacturing Company, which ultimately became Blackstone Corporation; Jamestown Car Parts Manufacturing Company; Jamestown Malleable Products; Salisbury Wheel Company; and Cummins Jamestown Engine Plant.