Fitz Water Wheel Company.

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Samuel Fitz established the Hanover Foundry & Machine Co. in Hanover, Pa., in 1840. Ten years later he established the Tuscarora Iron Works in Martinsburg, W. Va. The two operations were combined in 1896. In 1899 the firm became the I-X-L Overshoot Water Wheel Company, and on July 15, 1902, it was renamed the Fitz Water Wheel Company.

The firm soon came to specialize in the manufacture of water wheels and small power plants, although it also manufactured grain dryers and blowers. Samuel Fitz built his first iron water wheel in 1852. His son, John Fitz (1847-1914), who succeeded his father as head of the firm, developed the modern steel overshot water wheel. This represented the refinement of a relatively primitive technology at a time when large firms were developing high-power turbines for large factories and central generating stations. Befitting its rural location, Fitz aimed its product at farmers, small millers, and small town hydroelectric and pumping stations. As a specialty producer, it sold its products throughout the United States and also developed a strong export market, particularly to rural areas and underdeveloped countries. Orders came from New Zealand, Australia, Canada, South America, Africa, Indochina and all parts of Europe with the exception of Russia.

Fitz also manufactured impulse wheels, and in the 1910s it acquired the sole manufacturing rights to the Burnham turbine. Again, Fitz concentrated on turbines of under 150 HP. The spread of rural electrification cut into Fitz's market, but John Samuel Fitz, who had succeeded his father in 1914, kept the firm in business by adapting to changing conditions. After 1930 many wheels were produced for "show" rather than productive use. The firm made many model wheels and turbines for engineering schools and produced many small turbines for the government during World War II. It also became an important supplier to historic restorations of working mills, including Colonial Williamsburg; the Old Pierce Mill in Rock Creek Park in Washington; Stratford Hall in Virginia; the Historic Hudson Valley Restoration in New York; and the Hagley Museum in Delaware.

J. S. Fitz died in 1965, and the firm was sold on September 1, 1966. James Leffel & Co. of Springfield, Ohio, bought the machinery, inventory, patterns and drawings. Leffel later sold the loom business to Heilig Brothers Manufacturing Company of York, Pa. The real estate in Hanover was sold to Pen-Mar Foundries.

From the description of Records, 1897-1966. (Hagley Museum & Library). WorldCat record id: 122458646

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Fitz Water Wheel Company. Records, 1897-1966. Hagley Museum & Library
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Colonial Williamsburg, inc. corporateBody
associatedWith Fitz, John, 1847-1914. person
associatedWith Fitz, J. S. c. 1882-1965. person
associatedWith Hagley Museum and Library. corporateBody
associatedWith Hanover Foundry and Machine Company (Hanover, Pa.). corporateBody
associatedWith Historic Hudson Valley (Organization). corporateBody
associatedWith I-X-L Overshoot Water Wheel Company. corporateBody
associatedWith United States. War Production Board. corporateBody
Place Name Admin Code Country
Hanover (Pa.)
York County (Pa.)
Turbine industry
Export marketing
Grain drying
Hydraulic engineering
Hydraulic engineers
Hydraulic machinery
Hydroelectric power plants
Mills and mill-work

Corporate Body

Active 1897

Active 1966

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Ark ID: w6q01n9m

SNAC ID: 31697224