A Brief History of Liggett Spring and Axle Co.

I’ve been doing some research about Liggett Spring and Axle Co. and will be making several posts over the next few days. (If you want to see all articles on this topic just click on the tag in right hand column.) Most people around here don’t refer to the company as “Liggett Spring and Axle Co.”, they just shorten it to “Liggetts” so for the sake of brevity I’ll do that too.

The first bit of information I found about Liggetts was this excerpt from the Directory To The Iron And Steel Works Of The United States, 16th ed. August 1904:

Liggett Spring and Axle Company, Pittsburgh. Works at Axleton, Allegheny county, opposite Monongahela. Built in 1903-4 utilizing machinery from former works at Beaver ave. and Fayette st., Allegheny; rolling mill not put in operation down to May 25, 1904; other departments started in January, 1904; equipped with about 60 large and small heating furnaces, 26 hammers 9 from 500 to 1,000 pounds,) and one 16-inch train of rolls used to reroll iron and steel into shapes for the manufacture of axles; product, buggy and wagon axles and springs; annual capacity 7,500 tons. Fuel, coal. O.C. Hall, Vice-President and Manager; George W. Wright, Jr., Treasurer.

The most helpful source of information I’ve found about Liggetts Spring and Axle Co. is this article by Tom Headley. In it he writes:

In 1903 the Liggett Spring & Axle Company moved from Pittsburgh’s North Side and built a factory to manufacture buggy springs and axles. To provide raw material for this plant, the owners also constructed an adjoining foundry to supply castings.  Business boomed during World War I from the manufacture of springs and axles for army vehicles.  At this time the plant was reported to be the largest spring factory in the country. In 1916 the company built two rows of identical brick houses (still standing) to house their employees which became known as Axleton. With the shift to automobiles, the axle plant was separated from the foundry and began doing business as the Coshocton Iron Works engaged in the manufacture of parts for stoker furnaces.  This plant later combined with others to form the Combustion Engineering Company which continued to operate the plant until the 1980’s.

Here’s are two aerial photographs of the plant/s taken 40 years apart:

Liggett Spring and Axle Co. and Combustion Engineering Co., Monongahela PA.
Liggett Spring and Axle Co. and Combustion Engineering Co., Monongahela PA. circa 1967 (click image to enlarge)
Liggett Spring and Axle Co. and Combustion Engineering Co., Monongahela PA.
Liggett Spring and Axle Co. and Combustion Engineering Co., Monongahela PA. Today (click image to enlarge)

Click on this link to view the best interactive map of the plant. The link takes you to Microsoft’s Bing map service where you can not only zoom in, but also rotate the maps using the circular “rosette” on the bottom. This will enable you view the building from four different angles. (Note that you can increase the viewing area by removing the advertisements on the left side – just click on the “<” arrow.)

It was mentioned in the first article above that the plant was fueled by coal. What is interesting is that Liggetts owned a mine just across the street under River Hill. I wish I could locate the mine entrance. Somebody recently told me it was located between Liggetts and C.E. I wonder if there is any remains of the mine entrance.  (If you know why not leave a comment.)

It’s funny but as a kid I never heard of Liggetts. I thought this whole complex was occupied by Combustion Engineering. I guess part of the reason is that my mother worked for C.E. in the office and she never really had a reason to mention Liggetts when we would drive by on rt. 136. Also I remember that C.E. had a rather impressive water tower (visible in the black and white map version) with it’s logo painted on it. I don’t remember seeing any signage for Liggetts though.

I would like to hear what you remember about Liggett Spring and Axle Co. I would be especially interested to know:

  • Where the Liggetts mine entrance was.
  • When was the foundry sold to Combustion Engineering?
  • Before the foundry was purchased by Combustion Engineering, it known as Coshocton Iron Works. What was the relationship between Coshocton and Liggetts? Did Liggetts own Coshocton right from the start or was Coshocton formed sometime after the complex was built (as Hadley’s the article above seems to indicate) I found this article stating that a Coshocton Iron Co. existed in Ohio before the Liggetts Monongahela plant was built so I am a little confused.
  • Do you have any pictures of Liggetts or Combustion Engineering you would like to share?

Anyways, I’ll be posting a few more pictures of the people who worked at the Liggetts/C.E. complex along with some pictures of the company houses that Liggetts built for their workers.

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15 thoughts on “A Brief History of Liggett Spring and Axle Co.

  1. Gloria DeYuliis Burnley March 30, 2010 / 3:30 am

    My father worked for Liggetts from 1952 to 1960 when he was laid off. I have a copy of a letter stating that he was acting group leader of the maintenance department from 1957-1959, signed by Francis Pauley, Foreman, Maintenance Department. I don’t remember a lot about Liggetts, just that Dad worked there. The plain letterhead reads “Liggett Spring & Axle Company, Inc, Monongahela, Pa. Dad had a back injury from WWII which hindered his work. I really don’t know what he did but he was by trade an electrician. I also have 2 certificates from courses he took while a Liggetts employee:
    West Penn Power Company, Industrial Engineering Section:
    Motor and Control Applications (Monessen, Oct, 1953) and
    Low Temperature Sheathed Heaters (Monessen, March 16 – April 20, 1954). I assume he was sent by Liggetts but don’t really know. Dad was always taking classes to better himself since he had to quit school and go to work in 10th grade to help his family.

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  2. Linda Pauley Barrett May 16, 2010 / 9:22 pm

    My father, Francis Pauley worked at Liggetts from 1912 to 1964. For 52 years.
    His father, Frank Pauley worked at Liggetts for 59 years. He moved from Allegheny City with the Liggetts to Forward Twp in the early 1900’s.
    Jame Pauley the son of Francis, was Manager of Liggetts until his death in 1973.
    Gary Pauley was the fourth generation at Liggetts.

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  3. Marsha Linderman Ransom July 9, 2010 / 9:25 am

    My Dad worked at Liggett’s Spring and Axle. I’m sending this link to him, maybe he will add some content about when and what he did. I think it was during WW II.

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  4. Andrew Tregembo July 10, 2010 / 10:31 pm

    I used to play for Liggett’s Spring and Axle in the Monongahela Little League. (For what it’s worth, we had a very good team, making it to the championship – oh, the glory days.) Tony Dipola, who worked at Liggett’s, was our coach. I remember there was a fire at Liggett’s around 1976 or 1977, at which point the name of my Little League team changed to Tregembo Insurance.

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  5. Melissa Caprio July 30, 2010 / 10:28 pm

    My Grandfather worked for Combustion and lived in the first house next to Combustion. My Grandmother had a restaurant in the basement and fed a lot of the workers. My family still owns that house.

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  6. Geo A Paxon October 15, 2010 / 10:31 pm

    I grew up in Monongahela having left there many, many years ago. I remember Liggetts well and remember the mine. The highway going South to Gallitin passed over a small bridge just south of the Liggetts works and the mine track ran under that bridge and into the hillside. As I recall the mine was still working intermittently when I was young, but I don;t think Liggetts unse the coal any longer.

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  7. Linda Pauley Barrett March 17, 2011 / 10:36 pm

    Across the road from where Geo Paxon mention is still a exhaust fan and shed for the Tucker Mine.
    The Tucker Mine had a second opening across the road and up the hill from the one Paxon mentioned. The mine opening on the hill side is blocked in with brick to prevent entry.
    Me and my nephew used to set on a rock near this opening and tell scary story.
    Mr. Tucker who lived on the hill above the mine complined about cracks in his basement that he blamed on the mine.

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  8. Linda Pauley Barrett April 7, 2011 / 10:15 pm

    An artcle on Google dated 1902
    “The Coshocton Iron Co.,of Conshocton, O., has been incorporarted to do business in Pennsylvania by C.E.M. Champ, William E. Marquis and S.E. Hare, who are all connected with the Liggett Spring & Axle Co. of Allegheny, Pa. The latter is now building new works near Monongahela City, Pa., and a structure 100X300 feet will be put up on adjoining property for the Coshocton Iron Co. The chief product of the foundry will be axle boxes, of which the Liggett company use about 100 tons per month.”

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  9. Linda Pauley Barrett April 21, 2011 / 11:38 pm

    Tom Headley statement that the two role of houses were build in 1916 is wrong, all the houses were completed when my grandmother moved in one them in 1912.

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  10. betty wood May 15, 2012 / 5:19 pm

    my dad fred Wood worked at Liggets before and after WWII as did his grand father James drinkwater I remember when the place caught fire i think in 73 or 74 thats when its downhill slide came about , dad loved that place . hes gone now and so is Liggetts mon city isnt the same 😦

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  11. Alvin Fryar January 30, 2014 / 10:53 am

    hello my name is Alvin Fryar. I have a liggett buggy frame of a horse drawn wagon. I was wondering if anyone would have a picture of what one would look like or if anyone would know how to find a picture of one. we own our own wagon shop, we build wagons and rebuild them. so if they have any ideas please email me at fryarswagons@yahoo.com or call me at 1-479-997-5400. please we would like any information.

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  12. Keith Hugus March 23, 2014 / 6:44 pm

    Liggett’s and Combustion Engineering each sponsors a team in the Pony League in the 50’s. I played for Liggett’s in 1956 and 1957 and if I remember right, we had maroon caps.

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  13. Michael Mance April 8, 2014 / 8:56 pm

    I was driving past there today and noticed the fan for the mine on the hill next to the road. I started looking into it from PSU mine maps website and found it was called Tucker Mine owned by Liggett Spring And Axle Company. That’s how I found this page. The mine map lists the fan area as a daylight shaft but doesn’t show the fan. Sometimes they don’t. I was trying to figure out if they were using that as daylight shaft and an air shaft at the same time. The map does show the entrance going under the bridge like Geo Paxon says.

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