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Axles & Springs

Reuben Cook, who had clerked for Solomon Rockwell Brothers, established an iron forge on the Still River, around 1840, with his sons Charles and John R. Cook. In 1852, it was organized as the Cook Axle Company. Reuben lived on North Main Street near the shop. 

Aside from the carriage and wagon axles, sleigh shoes, and crowbars that it manufactured, the iron works enjoyed a lucrative business in producing a popular fashion item for women of the time - large steel hoops that were worn like a petticoat to extend skirts. The hoop frames were originally made of whalebone, but, when that product became cost prohibitive, spring steel was adopted as a substitute. Cook Axle employed 20-30 women and girls to produce its hoop skirts. 

The company eventually built a brick factory on the site of its old forge. The business dissolved in 1864 but was later resumed by the original owners and continued by other family members. When it finally closed, the site was occupied by Franklin Moore Bolt Company.

Henry Spring Company

Fire often damaged or destroyed Winsted’s factories. One such victim, in 1883, was the Henry Spring Company. The loss of the business was attributed to lack of water pressure from Long Pond (later known as Highland Lake). 

The Henry Spring Company, which had been organized in New Haven in 1869 and relocated to Winsted in 1870, was rebuilt immediately following the fire. It had a capital of $200,000. The company purchased American Hoe’s grinding shop and made light springs for carriages, wagons, and seats. It was said that their patented springs combined strength and elasticity and were in constant demand. The company expanded its factory in 1872 and rebuilt again in 1900. When it was incorporated, J.G. Wetmore served as president, George W. Phelps as secretary, and E.P. Wilcox as treasurer. 

 

Taken from: “Brains, Money & Pluck: Profiles of Early Industries” by Verna Gilson, genealogy and local history research assistant, Beardsley & Memorial Library, Winsted.