Early innovation cuts through history
A historic photo from the J.B. Muecke Collection depicts four men using a Warner Manufacturing log saw. Muecke did photographic work for many local industries. Warner Manufacturing began as a fence company in about 1890 in the Melvern and Waverly area and moved to Ottawa in 1903. Soon after moving to the new location on King Street in North Ottawa, the company was producing 22 miles of woven-wire fence a day. The Warner Fence Company expanded into other industries through the years to encompass small engine and power equipment manufacturing. Products included powered post-hole diggers, powered weed and grass cutters, windmills, gas service station equipment and the Ottawa line of engines, which began in 1917. An obituary for E.L. Warner from the Feb. 3, 1951, edition of The Herald said Warner was inspired to design a log saw while traveling by train for business. Nearing Kansas City, Warner noticed out the train window two men working hard at sawing down a tree by hand. Warner canceled his business trip and spent two days in a hotel room drawing up the plans for the first power tree and log saw. Through the years, Warner’s companies operated as Warner Manufacturing, Warner Fence Company, Union Foundry and Ottawa Steel Products. The company’s last surviving descendent, Cargotec (also known as Ottawa Truck), sits at 416 E. Dundee St., less than one mile from the original Warner facility in Ottawa.