Filer Stowell & Co.
Cream City Iron Works
The F & S Co - Milwaukee, WI

Filer Stowell & Company traces it beginnings to the Cream City Iron Works of Milwaukee, which was founded in 1856 by John M. Stowell. They were established as a maker of sawmill machinery for the lumber industry, a market which the Filer & Stowell company still serves today. The early product line included typical sawmill equipment --- bandsaws, log carriages, etc., but they also made the steam engines that powered this machinery in the 'line shaft mills' of the day. This type of sawmill was belt driven, the power for any given machine taken off of an overhead shaft via a wide belt. These shafts were driven by a common steam engine or engines. The company also produced products for marine applications --- winches and the engines for tugboats.

Delos L. Filer became a partner of Cream City Iron Works around 1883. Mr. Filer was president of the Pere Marquette Lumber Company of Ludington, Michigan, which used Cream City equipment at their sawmills. Mr. Filer did his corporate banking in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, because in the 1800's it was easier to travel across Lake Michigan by boat, than it was to travel by land to Detroit. It was on one of these trips that Mr Filer met John M. Stowell, and at some point they became business partners, incorporating as Filer Stowell & Co, around 1883. Later, the company name was finalized as The Filer & Stowell Company.

A Filer & Stowell advertisement from 1894 lists all manner of pumps being manufactured, including beer pumps for the brewing industry. Steam locomotives were also produced by the company, and today model railroad enthusiasts have produced live steam scale models of the Filer & Stowell designs. At some point the company won the contract for the Jones Island waste treatment facility in Milwaukee, producing its sluice gates, gate valves, etc., and thereafter it was only natural to jump from this waterworks line to the production of fire hydrants.

The earliest example we know of these fire hydrants bears the name Filer Stowell, Cream City Iron Works, Milwaukee. Later hydrants bear the inscription: The F & S Co, Milwaukee which is cast onto the barrel in an elegant font. It is believed that Filer & Stowell & Co. stopped production of fire hydrants in the late 1930's. The Filer & Stowell foundry itself was closed in 1964. Today, Filer & Stowell continues as a producer of high quality sawmill machinery for the lumber industry.

Special thanks to Charles Stuart Read, President of Filer & Stowell, for historical information and assistance with this text.

  Early Model
Identifying Characteristics: An octagonal design with some ornamentation.
  • Caps are made in such a way as to provide both a hose connection, as well as a steamer connection.

  • 0696
    Manufacturer: Filer Stowell & Company, Cream City Iron Works
    Date: Known manufacturing dates for this model are 1872-1895
    Location: Milwaukee Public Museum
    Notes: Concentric caps allow a steamer or hose connection from a single outlet; this was an early city of Milwaukee specification.
    Photo: © 2000, Carl Quist
    Manufacturer: Filer Stowell & Company, Cream City Iron Works
    Date: Known manufacturing dates for this model are 1872-1895
    Location: Milwaukee
    Notes: This is a dual pumper version of the hydrant at left.
    Photo: Milwaukee Water Works archives

      Later Model
    Identifying Characteristics: 3-way dry barrel hydrant with a 1 piece barrel design.

    Manufacturer: The F&S Co.
    (Filer & Stowell)
    Date: 1938
    Size: 5-1/4
    Location: Barneveld, WI
    Photo: © 2000, Julie Anderson

      Milwaukee Spec Models
    Identifying Characteristics: These were designed by the city of Milwaukee; F&S were one of the successful bidders over the years.
  • F&S Co. embossed on these models.

  • 1118
    Manufacturer: F&S
    (Filer & Stowell)
    Model: Milwaukee MIII spec
    Date: 1958
    Location: Milwaukee Zoo
    Photo: © 2001, John Anderson

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