Leader Iron Works


| September/October 1993

  • HP Leader Engine
    1 HP Leader engine running root chopper, 1991.

  • HP Leader Engine

5855 Lisle Road Owego, New York 13827

On March 24, 1910, the Leader Iron Works, a two hundred thousand dollar company of Decatur, Illinois, selected the village of Owego, Tioga County, New York to become its eastern distribution center. The Leader company had been manufacturing water supply systems for suburban homes, schools, factories, etc. for at least five years, employing about one hundred and fifty men.

Leader selected Owego for two reasons. The first was for its exceptional railroad connections. The Erie and the Delaware Lackawanna both ran east and west through Owego linking Chicago with New York City and were tied into two smaller railroads that ran north and south. The Owego location would be responsible for all of Leader's business: sales, bookkeeping, inventory, and shipping of its products east of the Ohio River in all states from Maine to Florida. Office operations and personnel in Rochester, New York, and New York City were to be consolidated at Owego, leaving only the salesmen.

The second reason for selecting the village of Owego was twofold. The potential for a sizable site along one of the railroads was outstanding and the attitude of cooperation by the local Business Men's Association was exceptional.

While waiting for the negotiations for a permanent building location, Leader officials leased a lot on the north side, across the tracks from the Erie Depot. They contracted with the Owego Bridge Company to erect a traveling crane for lifting six hundred pound boilers from rail cars and setting them down on a short tract, allowing them to be rolled onto the storage lot.

Within the first month, six carloads of Leader's pneumatic water supply systems, that included the drums, water and air pipes, fittings, pumps, engines, etc. arrived.