At this point we are all familiar with Peter Vogt’s iconic 1965 film “Pioneer Axe” depicting work inside Oakland’s Emerson & Stevens company. In our research at the Oakland Public Library we found a number of rarely seen color photographs of the Emerson & Stevens Company. We confirmed with Mr. Vogt that he took these pictures in 1964 when making the movie and others in 1967 when he returned to Oakland after Emerson & Stevens had closed.
The interior color shots give us a new perspective on axe making at Emerson & Stevens. We can clearly see the way in which Emerson & Stevens overlaid and forge welded a harder steel bit over the softer poll steel to create their axes.
By 1967 though the forges were cold, the hammers quiet and the plant closed.
This building is gone. Now only only the foundation of the Emerson & Stevens buildings remain along the Messalonskee stream south of the School Street bridge in Oakland.
[Picture from Oakland Library Collection 2011]
For historical perspective, here is what the stream looked like from roughly this vantage point in 1910 with the Emerson & Stevens factory on the right and the American Axe Company (formerly Hubbard & Blake) across the stream.
You can keep the legacy of Emerson & Stevens alive (or at least wear it on your chest!) by picking up one of our Lumberman’s Pride T-shirts from our on-line store. These logo on the T-shirt is from one of the original Emerson & Stevens axe labels. Get one here.
Thanks to the Oakland Public Library, the Oakland Historical Society and Peter Vogt for the use of these pictures!