Inside the Gade factory, 1910

By Staff
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The aftermath of the devastating 1910 fire that destroyed what appears to be the main machine shop at Gade's Iowa Falls factory.
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A look inside the assembly room at Gade Bros. Mfg. Co., Iowa Falls, Iowa, about 1910.
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Fresh from production, a circa-1910 6 HP Gade illustrates how rough some engines were when first sold.

Regular readers will remember the photo we ran in the March 2004 issue showing the aftermath of a devastating 1910 fire at the Gade Bros. Mfg. Co., Iowa Falls, Iowa.

That photo was culled from the collection of the Iowa Falls Historical Society and submitted by well-known engine and tractor historian C.H. Wendel. As so often happens in this hobby, there is more to the photo than meets the eye.

As it turns out, the photo submitted by Wendel was donated to the Iowa Falls Historical Society by David Kolzow Sr. of Hampton, Iowa. David, an avid collector of antique automobiles and engines, also collects original glass-plate negatives and photos.

Fortunately for us, David is also a subscriber to Gas Engine Magazine. After seeing the March photo, David dug into his collection and sent us a few more images from the time of the 1910 fire, including the spectacular photo above showing the back side of the Gade factory. Compare this photo with the one run in the March issue, and there’s no question the two were taken on the same day.

Although the fire’s damage was evident in the March photo, this shot fully illustrates the scale of destruction experienced by Gade. The building appears to have been the company’s primary machining facility.

Accompanying this photo, David also sent a photo of the inside of the Gade engine assembly building (visible behind the machine shop), showing Gade engines in various states of assembly.

The other jewel is a photo showing a completed Gade engine, likely a 6 HP. This photo is certain to further fuel the debate over ‘appropriate’ restoration practices, highlighting as it does how crude some of the finished castings were on early farm engines.

David tells us he acquired these photos from George Brown (since deceased), whose father worked for Gade from 1910 through 1925. David fondly remembers George telling him of the time Gade had him sit on a 6 HP engine at the Iowa State Fair to show how cool the engine ran. His reward? All the ice cream a child could eat.

Special thanks to engine enthusiast David Kolzow Sr. for passing along these great photos. Contact him at: Oak Ridge Farms, 1486 95th St., Hampton, IA 50441.

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