Our county has been the home to several large industries as well as a wide variety of business enterprises over the past 200+ years. Many of their stories are included below.
* * * * * * *
Mount Vernon's First Major Industry
From 1833 to the Present Day
Knox County brothers, Charles and Elias Cooper, were born on the family farm three miles south of Mount Vernon soon after their father settled here in 1810. In 1832, they tried their hand at operating a coal mine in Zanesville, but they soon became fascinated with the old Davis Foundry there, and they decided to come home and open a foundry of their own in Mount Vernon. They financed their project by selling one of their three horses for $50.00. Their new “one-horse” operation was powered by another horse named Bessie until 1836, when a small steam engine was built and installed to power their foundry.
During the 1840’s the company built carding machines, special power machinery, plows and hollow-ware vessels. Beginning in 1846 they also supplied war machinery for the government during the War with Mexico.
By the 1850’s Cooper was building blast furnace blowing engines and a few early railroad steam locomotives, although Charlie Cooper quickly found the railroaders slow to pay their bills, so he turned his attention toward their entry into the competitive world of steam-operated farm engines.
For nearly a hundred years there was a company in Mount Vernon that built some of the most beautiful bridges in America.
The Mount Vernon Bridge Company began in 1880 and soon was turning out not only small iron bridges for county streams but also massive structures across rivers for highways and railroads. The plant was located near the present-day B. & O. Depot, close to the major Cooper Company buildings of the early 1900's.
The discovery of natural gas in Knox County in the early 1900's was soon followed by the beginnings of an extensive glassmaking industry here.
Stay tuned for more to follow.