(Adapted from “Picturesque Franklin” , Wade, Warner & Co. , Northampton MA 1891
This publication was a “snap shot” of Franklin County businesses and industries as of 1891. This original article will not include the history which occurred afterwards, unless noted by the museum editor.)
As the oldest, if not the largest manufacturing concern in the town of Orange, the Rodney Hunt Machine Co. deserves to rank next to the New Home Sewing Machine corporation. Rodney Hunt began making water wheels in Orange half a century ago and although they were good ones for that time they were not to be compared to the turbine wheels made today. The company has grown with the times and its products are now sold in every part of America and the most civilized parts of the world. Over 125 men are employed and 3000 tons of iron and steel are worked up in a year. Besides water wheels the company make a high grade of woolen machinery, including iron frame cloth washers and rinsers, hammer falling stocks, dolly washers for hosiery goods, cloth winders, reels for tubs, rag washers, wool washers, soaping machines, squeeze rolls, pushers or crank fulling mills, dye tubs, etc.
Probably no machine company in the country has a better character than the Rodney Hunt. The reputation of its products is such that it tends to make any firm which has once had dealings with them, customers for a lifetime.
During the past few years important improvements have been made in the construction of machinery in nearly every branch of manufacturing. New designs and devices have been sought in order to produce the most and best work, and at the least cost; improved machinery taking the place of old designs not up to the requirements of the times. And, likewise the cheap and common water wheels, which a few years ago were considered good enough in a large number of places, are now assigned to narrower limits; manufacturers very generally having found that it is important for them to have water wheels of high efficiency, built to stand long and constant service, without frequent delays for repairs. Strength, durability and economy in working have become more and more important considerations in the selection of water wheels. Especially has this become so as water powers have become more valuable, and economy in utilizing them more important.
The company can refer to one concern that has eighty-seven of their wheels in use, to one that has 7,200 horse power, and to another 6,800 horse power developed from their wheels. They have sold 1800 wheels in New England, and orders come from as far south as Florida and as far west as the Mississippi river. Quite a trade is now being developed also in South America. The Hunt wheels are proving to be especially adapted to the furnishing of power for electric light and power plants, belting direct to the dynamo, and large orders are continually received from electric companies.
The present managers of the company have grown up in the business, understand it thoroughly, and not content with past achievements, are wide awake to the possibilities of the future. The president, E. N. Harris, resides in Maiden and presides at the Boston office, 70 Kilby street. The treasurer, N. E. Harris, and the superintendent, Charles E. Gibbs, live in Orange.