CIark Brothers, Inc.

By Staff

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superseded by Clark’s ‘Bogart’ gas engine, the Clark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.

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