CIark Brothers, Inc.

Content Tools

One of our subscribers, Mark Corson of 9374 Roosevelt St., Crown Point, IN 46307 sent us information he found on the Clark Brothers Company of Olean, New York. The data was included in the book Enchanted Land, 1776-1976, compiled by the Bicentennial Committee of Olean. The following paragraphs are excerpted from this book.

In 1880, two brothers, William P. and Charles E. Clark, decided to go into the manufacturing business together in Belmont, New York. Under the name of 'Clark Bros. Co.' they began operations in a small shop with a handful of men.

During the first few years, production was confined principally to farm implements and equipment for sawmills. The first item manufactured was a unique type of hayfork, similar in looks to a harpoon, and designed to lift greater quantities of hay than by the hand fork. But expansion in local oil production had its effect on the course that the company was to follow. Gradually, over a period of years, the company turned its attention from the lumber business to oil production and eventually identified itself with all phases of the oil and gas industry.

One of the first Clark engines to be built for use in the oil fields was a slow speed, horizontal steam engine. This old work horse was the mainstay of the business until 1905, when it was superseded by Clark's 'Bogart' gas engine, the Clark Corliss and the slide valve steam engine.

A disastrous fire in 1912 destroyed the old plant at Belmont. Instead of rebuilding in Belmont, the company was moved to Olean. A new plant, the beginning of the present group of buildings, was erected.

The years 1918 and 1919 saw the entire of Clark Bros. Co., Inc. into the oil field business with a definite development program for the rapidly growing industry. Engineers designed their first horizontal gas-engine driven compressor during this period and also developed a four-cylinder, four-cycle, drilling engine especially adapted for use in the oil fields. These steps marked the beginning of the changeover from steam engine driven equipment in the drilling fields. The next ten years saw radical changes in the products that they were building. The now famous super two-cycle engine was turned out and found to be far more reliable and simpler to operate than the four-cycle type. Not long after this development, the Clark Angle engines were offered to the oil industry and were received enthusiastically. Throughout the 1920s and 1930s constant improvements were being made in our engines and compressors-improvements that meant higher performance from the product and lower cost to customers. Through research and the skill of those who were building Clark equipment, plus an alert sales organization, the company, though one of the smallest in its field, stayed ahead of its competitors. Production increased slowly but steadily.

Coincident with the gradual expansion, a change occurred in the organization of the company. In 1937, a merger was completed with the S. R. Dresser Manufacturing Company of Bradford, Pennsylvania (now Dresser Industries, Inc.), which brought to Clark substantial financial support and a broadening of markets and means to keep in the foreground in research and development work.

During World War II, Clark designed and built marine diesel engines for use in Army tur-boats and tankers; assisted materially in developing oxygen generating equipment for the Army Air Force; and continued to build some of its regular line of engines and compressors for use in war plants.

The firm is still in business today, building huge modern compressors.