Although Shelby Chemical Company actually included two manufacturing plants, this is the structure most people identify as the "Chemical Plant." The skeletal remains of this structure stand on private property directly across Shelby County Highway 42 from Shelby Iron Works Park. It is, particularly in fall and winter, partially visible from the park. The construction is of concrete and includes three levels, plus the tower. This photo was taken from the northeast corner of the facility looking back toward the park and the New Dannemora Hotel.
This undated photo shows the Chemical Plant as it stood prior to removal of the roof and siding. It was taken from near the spring house which is located within Shelby Iron Works Park. The plant was in operation only a short time after its construction in 1918-19. Soon afterward, Shelby Iron Company itself was to cease operation. In 1923, and for the first time since March 31, 1865, the night sky of Shelby would no longer be illiminated by the reddish glow from the furnaces. The iron company that had its beginnings in 1847 and rose from the destruction of the Civil War, could not survive the economic and transportation difficulties of the time.
The Shelby Chemical Company consisted of two manufacturing facilities. This photo, which was taken several years ago, shows the remains of the retort. This building had one level above ground and one below. The framework is constructed of reinforced concrete with the basement floor also of concrete. The retort is located a few hundred yards northeast from where the Shelby Iron Company furnaces stood.
As early as October, 1916, discussion between Shelby and iron company management, located at the time in Hartford, Conn., was underway. Shelby Iron was interested in establishing a wood by-products plant. Demand for these by-products, including acetate of lime and acetic acid, were increased substantially by the war effort. Shelby's idea was to obtain these substances, among others, and use the remaining charcoal to fuel the company iron furnaces. The letter above was from Shelby Iron officer Ward. W. Jacobs, who was also treasurer of the Mechanics Savings Bank, in Hartford. The letter's recipient, B. F. Wilson, would become an officer in the soon to be formed Shelby Chemical Company. Below is Wilson's reply.
Above is the reply from B. F. Wilson in Shelby to Ward Jacobs regarding the possibility of establishing a wood by-products plant in conjuncton with Shelby Iron Works. The plant, under the name of Shelby Chemical Company, would be constructed in 1918
This ad ran on the front page of "The Peoples Advocate" newspaper published on November 6, 1918, in Columbiana, Alabama. It is likely the advertisement sought help for work related to the Shelby Chemical Company. See the following post for more.
Above is a copy of a letter sent by Shelby Iron President M. W. Bush to company Asst. Treasurer J. G. Hendrick. In 1918, Shelby Iron deeded land to the U.S. Government for construction of a plant to refine chemicals from wood. A separate compamy was set up to construct and operate the proposed chemical plant. It was to be known as the Shelby Chemical Company. Remains of the two buildings still stand, on private property, just north of Shelby Iron Works Park. More will be posted on the Shelby Chemical Company soon.
The undated photo above shows a locomotive owned by Shelby Iron Company. The iron works ran daily rail service from Shelby to Columbiana where it connected with the main line. There was also rail service in later years as a part of the Alabama Mineral Line which ran from Calera, through Shelby, and on to the Anniston and Blue Mountain area. If you have any information as to a possible date of construction, company, etc.,. regarding this locomotive, please contact me.
As noted in the July 26 post "The School Iron Built", Shelby Iron Works constructed, staffed, and equipped the first school in the Shelby community. Above is a letter from Vanderbilt University to iron company officer C.J. Hazard regarding the search for teachers. The letter is dated September 11, 1883. It reads: "At this period of our scholastic year, we cannot assist you in obtaining such a teacher as you desire. None of our students will leave their work here to enter upon the conduct of a school. At the close of our session we are able to meet very satisfactorily all requests similar to yours."