(Over N. Y. C. R. R., N.Y., 226 m.; Buff., 213 m. ; 1920 Pop., 10,169;
sea elevation, 383 ft.)
Turnpike Mileage Distances.
East: Mohawk 2 m., Fort Herkimer Church 4 m., Herkimer 3 m., Little
Falls 10 m., Fink's Bridge (Fall Hill) 11 m., (by detour over Fink's
Bridge) Gen. Herkimer Home 12 m., East Creek 17 m., St. Johnsville 20
m., Palatine Church 23 m., Fort Plain-Nelliston 26 m., (by detour) Stone
Arabia Churches 30 m., Canajoharie Palatine Bridge 29 m., Yosts (the
Noses) 35 m., Fonda-Fultonville 41 m., (by detour n. from Fonda)
Johnstown 45 m., Gloversville 49 m., (by detour from Fultonville)
Auriesville 46 m., Tribes Hill-Fort Hunter 47 m., Fort Johnson 49 m.,
Amsterdam 52 m., Hoffmans Ferry 59 m., Schenectady 68 m., Albany 83 m.,
New York, 222 m.
West: Frankfort 2 m., Utica 12 m., Whitesboro 16 m., Oriskany 19 m.,
Oriskany Battlefield Monument 21 m., Rome 27 m., Syracuse 62 m.,
Rochester 159 m., Buffalo 216.
The next important points west are Frankfort, 2 m.; Utica, 12 m.
East, Mohawk, 2 m.; Herkimer, 3 m.; Little Falls, 10m.
Ilion was incorporated as a village in 1852. Ilion is 12 miles from
Utica on the Mohawk river and the West Shore and the New York Central
railroads. Trolley systems connect with Little Falls, Herkimer, Oneonta,
Rome and Utica.
In 1919, Ilion had 14 factories, with 6,004 workers; 9,191 primary
horsepower; $17,759,000 capital; annual value of manufactures,
$13,702,000 (1920 U. S. Census report) . In 1924, Ilion manufactured
typewriters, rifles, ammunition, cash registers, steel office fixtures
and filing equipment, show cases, store fixtures, etc.
In 1912 the Ilion industries employing over 1,000 were typewriters,
2851; firearms, 1,127. Ilion is unique among New York towns for it had
4,570 factory employees (in 1912) compared with a population (officially
estimated in 1912) of 7,023. This is explained by the fact that many of
Ilion's workers come from Herkimer, Mohawk and Frankfort. There were 13
factories in Ilion in 1912.
There are possibilities of water power within ten miles of the
village. The adjacent farming country is devoted to general agriculture
and to dairying; considerable quantities of strawberries are shipped
from Ilion. The village has a hospital, municipal water and electric
lighting systems and sewers. It is a rapidly growing, progressive
community and the center of the Mohawk-Ilion-Frankfort village community
with a combined population of 17,286.
A Barge canal terminal dock is located at Ilion, which is about the
middle point on the waterway from the Hudson to Oswego (by way of the
Mohawk river) - a famous historical and important present day commercial
water route, traversed by the New York State Barge canal.
Ilion lies on the Mohawk flats and in the valley outlet of Steele's
creek and on the hills rising therefrom. The situation of the town is
picturesque with Oak hill opposite the village, on the north shore,
rising sharply to a height of 600 feet above the Mohawk and 980 feet
above the sea. The surface rock here is Hudson river (Utica) shale.
There are commercially valuable clay deposits at Ilion.
The Herkimer-Mohawk-Ilion-Frankfort community is one of the most
interesting civic districts, historically and commercially, on the New
York-Buffalo automobile highway. This community is largely the outgrowth
of the talent and enterprise of Eliphalet Remington, one of the most
remarkable of American inventive geniuses of the nineteenth century.
Ilion takes on great importance as the place where the typewriter,
the Remington rifle and the magazine rifle were perfected.
Ilion Gulph - Automobile Route to the Unadilla River
One of the most picturesque scenic features of the Mohawk Valley is
the beautiful deep ravine extending southwestwardly along Steele's creek
and its western branch nearly to Cedarville, an airline distance of over
five miles. This small canyon is known as the Ilion Gulph and its creek
as the Gulph stream. Its rocky walls rise in steep cliffs, at one point,
four miles south of Ilion, reaching a height of 700 feet above the brook
and a sea level elevation of 1,580 feet for this summit. This beautiful
route forms a natural gateway to the headwaters of the Unadilla river, a
main headwater stream of the Susquehanna, which rises 8 miles southwest
of Ilion near Dayville. The Ilion Gulph is resorted to by geologists for
the collection of fossils and the geological study of this deepest of
Mohawk Valley ravines.
The Ilion Gulph is commercially important as the site of the second
Remington rifle factory (1816, the first being on the farm at Crane's
Corners). The old stone forge is marked by a tablet alongside the Gulf
Road to Great Western Turnpike.
An automobile highway runs up the Gulph to Cedarville and thence to
West Winfield, on the Unadilla river and the Great Western Turnpike,
there connecting with Richfield Springs, Otsego lake, Cooperstown,
Cherry Valley and Sharon Springs and roads running south, from West
Winfield, down the Unadilla and the Susquehanna, to Binghamton.
Gulph Summit, 1,720 Feet.
Five miles airline, distance southwest of Ilion a summit of the
Mohawk-Unadilla divide rises to a height of 1,720 feet above the sea or
1,337 above the Mohawk. It is one and a half miles west of the edge of
the steepest Gulph cliff and lies between the Gulph stream and Moyer
creek. This Gulph summit rises 200 feet above the surrounding plateau,
with Crane's Corners on its eastern slope and a small pond lying at the
foot of its western side. This is the highest elevation of any point
within five miles of the Mohawk river along its course form Schenectady
to Rome, and is known as Jerusalem Hill.
This Mohawk upland and summit is historically interesting as it was
at Crane's Corners, at its eastern base, that Eliphalet Remington ,
senior, settled in 1800 and here, on his father's farm, Eliphalet
Remington, junior, made the first Remington rifle in 1816 and not at the
Ilion Gulph forge, which was erected later in the year, to make a
factory where young Remington could manufacture rifle barrels, then in
great demand. Nothing but a pile of stones marks Remington's forge of
1816, at Crane's Corners.
And Civil War monument on picturesque
Otsego Street, Ilion.
Ilion, Historical - 1725 - 1920.
The history of the Mohawk-Ilion-Frankfort community until after the
Revolutionary war is comprised under that of Herkimer and Fort Herkimer,
given on previous pages. Herkimer and Fort Herkimer were the business,
farming, social and religious centers of the Colonial and Revolutionary
German Flats, during which periods, this south shore tri-village
community comprised the river farmlands of the German pioneers, with the
forest crowning the hills.
Following the Revolution a number of New England people settled in
the Ilion neighborhood, among whom were the Remingtons.
Eliphalet Remington and the Remington Rifle, 1816.
Eliphalet Remington, senior, bought 50 acres in the present town of
Litchfield, March 22, 1779, for $275. His son, Eliphalet, junior, was
born in Connecticut in 1793. In 1800 the senior Remington removed his
family to his new farm at present Crane's Corners, about five miles
southwest of Ilion. He was both a farmer and a mechanic and built a
forge and blacksmith shop in addition to his other farm buildings. In
1807 and 1808 he purchased more land, some of it comprising part of the
Ilion Gulph, where he built the creek forge in 1816.
In those days game was plentiful in the Mohawk forests and Eliphalet
Remington, junior, wanted to go hunting. Money was then very scarce and
there was none to spare for a rifle so, like a true Yankee, in the year
1816, young Remington set to work and made one. He first made the gun
barrel and walked fifteen miles over the hills to Utica to have it
rifled. The Utica gunsmith highly complimented the young farmer's work.
Eliphalet also made a spring, lock and stock. The Utica gunsmith fitted
the lock to the barrel and young Remington placed the parts in position
and thus completed the first Remington rifle.
Ilion Gulph - Remington forge, 1816-31.
Neighboring farmers flocked to see young Remington's gun and ordered
gun barrels or guns for themselves from the young mechanic. To supply
these demands the senior Remington, in 1816, built a stone forge in the
Gulph about three miles northeast of the farm and about three miles
southwest of Ilion. The Remingtons ran their factory by water power and
cut their first grindstone from a red sandstone ledge in the gorge.
These grindstones were used for smoothing down the welded edges in gun
barrels as the barrels were not drilled from solid steel until 1850.
The Remington Gulph forge and factory made anything in its line that
could be sold in the neighborhood - rifles, shotguns, crowbars,
pickaxes, farm tools, etc. Guns sold better than other products and
orders came from great distances and shipments were made on the new Erie
canal. For a while, as packages were small, they were taken to the canal
bridge, a board lifted from the floor and a package dropped onto a boat
as it passed under. There was no bill of lading. Remington took down the
name of the boat and notified his customer by mail, so the latter would
know which craft was bringing his guns.
Gillespie & Son had a store in Ilion in 1816, at which time the
western section of present Ilion was called London. When the Erie canal
was constructed, in 1825, the present town was called Morgan's Landing,
from the nearby Selden Morgan farmhouse. On the canal list it was called
Steele's Creek from the Adam Steele farm located thereon.
The Ilion Remington Works, 1831.
In order to take advantage of the Erie canal shipping facilities,
Eliphalet Remington, senior, bought 100 acres of farmland, in present
Ilion, from James A. Clapsaddle, on Jan. 1, 1828.
At that time the village consisted of the following houses:
Clapsaddle farmhouse, Daniel Dygert house, in which was the Cary
grocery, Dennis Dygert house and storehouse, Selden Morgan farmhouse,
Adam Steele house, Esquire Helmer house, Lawrence Helmer house. The
seven buildings housed eight families with about fifty persons in 1828,
and that hamlet was the nucleus of present Ilion.
In 1828 Eliphalet Remington, senior, suffered an accident which
caused his death. His son built a factory here and in 1831 removed the
Gulph works to this place.
Remington ran his Ilion shop by water power from Steele's creek and
installed considerable gun-making machinery, including a big tilt
hammer, several trip hammers, boring and rifling machines, grindstones,
etc. He secured iron from ore beds in Oneida county and by also securing
the country for scrap iron. The chief fuel was charcoal, burnt by
farmers in the hill country around Ilion. In 1832 twenty men were
employed in the Ilion Remington works.
The fame of Remington spread and soon his Ilion shop was a mecca for
inventors seeking his aid in developing their inventions in his factory.
An enormous number of ideas and inventions were here worked out - many
of which became successful.
The Remington industry gave the name Remington Corners to the place
until 1843. A postoffice was here established and a controversy arose
over the name of the postoffice, as Mr. Remington objected to the use of
his name. At a popular vote the name Fountain (for the creek) won over
Vulcan (for the gun works). The district Congressman substituted the
name Remington, but Eliphalet Remington objected again and David D.
Devoe, the postmaster (an admirer of Homer) , suggested Ilion, which was
adopted, the seventh name borne by the locality in thirty years.
Ilium is the Greek name of ancient Troy, the city of Asia Minor,
captured and destroyed by the Greeks, whose exploits form the theme of
Remington Rifle in the Mexican War.
Eliphalet Remington secured his first big gun contract during the
Mexican war (1846-8), when he bought an army contract for several
thousand carbines from the Ames Co. of Springfield, Mass., removing the
latter works to Ilion in 1845. The Remington pistol was here perfected
in 1852 and later adopted by the U. S. army.
The first solid steel gun barrel was made here in 1850 in the
manufacture of Harpers Ferry muskets. Previous to this all gun barrels
had been welded. The drilling of small-bore barrels form solid steel,
the drilling of double-barrel shotguns from one piece of steel, the
drilling of fluid steel and nickel steel barrels were all done for the
first time at the Remington shops.
Ilion Village, 1852.
Ilion was chartered as a village in 1852. In 1855 it had a population
of 812. The 1855 population of Frankfort was 1,150, Mohawk 1,325 and
Herkimer 1,311, the four towns then having a combined population of
4,628, with Ilion as the smallest village.
Remington Rifle in the Civil War.
In 1856 the firm of E. Remington & Sons was formed. "When
Fort Sumter was fired on, Uncle Sam turned to the Remington plant, among
others, for help out of his dilemma of unpreparedness." Remington's
first Civil war contract was for 5,000 Harper's Ferry rifles, which took
two years to complete.
As a result of the strain of those early war days, Eliphalet
Remington died August 12, 1861, aged 67 years.
The demands of the U. A. Government on the Remington Ilion works was
so great that the plant was greatly increased, day and night shifts
worked constantly, steam power was installed and a separate plant was
opened at Utica to manufacture army revolvers. The Remington
breech-loading rifle was perfected in 1863 and 10,000 were ordered by
the U. S. army.
At the end of the Civil war in 1865 a million dollar corporation
succeeded the Remington firm, and the plant valuation was then
$1,500,000. Both of these financial figures were enormous for those
days. A period of financial depression followed the Civil war, as it did
the World war. The Civil war depression affected Ilion strongly as work
was greatly reduced at the Remington plant.
The Remington breech-loading rifle showed its superiority, in the
Civil war, over the muzzle loader. After 1866 this arm was perfected at
Ilion and before 1870, 200,000 of these guns were made for the U. S.
navy and foreign countries. The Remington works also changed the Civil
war muzzle-loading Springfields into breech loaders for the U. S. army,
after that conflict. During seven months, in 1870-1, during the
Franco-Prussian war, the Ilion works made 155,000 rifles for the French
government, an arms making feat unapproached up to that time.
The local activity of the Civil war period increased Ilion's
population to 2,876 in 1870. In 1870 the Mohawk and Ilion street
railroad was built, it being extended to Herkimer in 1871 and to
Frankfort in 1872. The manufacture of lumber and house furnishings here
began in 1871.
Unveiled in Ilion in 1923, to commemorate the bi-centennial
of the construction of the first practical commercial
type-writer and its inventor, Christopher Latham Sholes.
The First Commercial Typewriter - The Remington, 1873.
In 1873 the Remington works of Ilion, made the first practicable
commercial typewriter from the model invented by Christopher Latham
Sholes of Milwaukee, Wis. Since 1714, many "typewriters" have
been made but the Remington Model 1 was the first commercially
successful typewriter and thus, in 1873, one of the greatest inventions
of the age, was perfected at Ilion in the Mohawk Valley.
In 1866, Sholes and Samuel W. Soule, ex-printers, worked on a model
for a page numbering machine in Milwaukee. Carlos Glidden, an inventor
associated with them, suggested that they develop a typing machine.
Sholes produced a crude machine in 1867, patented June 23, 1868, and
later an improved one (embodying many typewriter principles) , patented
July 14, 1868, which Sholes called a "typewriter." Soule
dropped out and James Densmore, another printer, bought an interest.
Sholes and Densmore worked out the universal keyboard, practically as at
present. Sholes' typewriter was used for court reporting in 1868 and for
directly typing telegraph messages in 1869.
Thirty models were made from 1868 to 1873, when Densmore brought the
latest model to Ilion, where he signed a manufacturing contract with
Philo Remington, March 1, 1873. Sholes sold Densmore his interest for
$12,000. W. K. Jenne perfected the Sholes model and produced the first
successful commercial typewriter in September, 1873. It was put on the
market in 1874 and sold in London in 1876. First sales were very slow
and the Remington typewriter was a failure as a feature of the
Philadelphia Centennial of 1876, where Bell's telephone made a big hit.
1,200 typewriters were sold in 1881. Mark Twain, in 1874, was the first
author-typist and his "Life on the Mississippi" was the first
typed literary manuscript.
Wyckoff, Seamans & Benedict, then sales agents, bought the
typewriter business form the Remingtons in 1886, using the former
agricultural works as their factory. In 1903 the corporate name became
the Remington Typewriter Co.
At Ilion on Sept. 8, 1923, the Remington typewriter celebrated its
50th anniversary, under the auspices of the Herkimer County Historical
Society. A boulder marker was unveiled commemorating the event. Mrs.
Charles L. Fortier of Milwaukee, daughter of Sholes, and the first woman
typist, and Charles E. Weller of Laporte, Ind., the first man typist,
were present. The celebration caused worldwide interest in the Remington
typewriter, Sholes, its inventor, Ilion and the Mohawk Valley.
Herkimer county holds a great place in the industrial advancement of
women. General Spinner, a resident of Mohawk, was the first man to give
government employment to women, while the Remington typewriter,
manufactured at Ilion, only a mile or so from the Spinner home, gave
worldwide employment to women.
First Magazine Rifle, 1874.
James P. Lee designed the first military rifle with the bolt type of
cartridge chamber, the parent of the military rifle of today. The model
was made at Ilion and tools and machinery made here for its manufacture
in quantities. It afterwards became the basis for the British army
rifle, the Lee-Metford and the Lee-Enfield, which were made here in
Ilion in vast quantities for England during the World war, as well as
for use in the American Expeditionary Force in France (1917-8).
The Remington double-barrelled breech-loading shotgun was here
developed as well as a hammerless breech-loading pistol and a magazine
pistol and a magazine pump rifle. Vernier and wind guage sights,
attached to any rifle, were here manufactured.
The Remington's activities covered too wide a field, with adequate
financial returns along but a few lines. The period from 1878 to 1882
was one of financial embarrassment for the firm.
In 1886 the typewriter works were sold to Wyckoff, Seamons &
Benedict. In 1886 the Remingtons went into the hands of a receiver and
in 1888, the arms works were purchased by Hartley & Graham, dealers
in guns, ammunition and sporting goods. Marcellus Hartley in 1867
founded the Union Metallic Cartridge Co. of Bridgeport, Conn., and the
Ilion and Bridgeport industries were consolidated under the name of
Remington Arms Union Metallic Cartridge Co. It was at Bridgeport that
the center fire cartridge was first made. Mr. Philo Remington died in
1889. Mr. Marcellus Hartley died in 1902.
The south shore village community was boomed by the building of the
West Shore R.R. on the south shore of the Mohawk (1879-1883). Knit goods
manufacture was begun in 1886.
Birth of the Card Index.
In 1876 Melvil Dewey, librarian of Columbia University of New York
city, organized a company which originated the card index, card ledger,
vertical filing system and many other important modern office devices.
This company, now known as the Library Bureau, removed to Ilion in 1901,
and manufactures steel and wood office furniture and filing equipment.
World War (1914-1918) Arms Center.
A vast quantity of rifles for the Allied armies was manufactured at
the Remington works during the World war (1914-1918) . A thousand
Lee-Enfield guns for the British armies were made here daily, and the
same rifle was also manufactured for the U. S. army during its years in
the World war (1917-18) .
In defense of its liberties, the United States of America would have
been badly off had it not been for the genius and enterprise of
Eliphalet Remington, whose influence on American and world history,
through the Remington rifle, has been tremendous.
Ilion's Remington Rifle Centennial.
In August, 1916, the people of Ilion held a three-day celebration of
the centennial of the making of the first Remington rifle. One of the
central figures of this anniversary was Eliphalet Remington (3d), then
90 years old and the son of Eliphalet Remington (2nd), who forged the
first Remington rifle. The celebration attracted thousands of visitors.
Among those present and speaking were Gen. Hugh A. Scott, Chief of Staff
of the U. S. Army, U.S. Senator (later President) Warren G. Harding and
Governor Charles S. Whitman. To commemorate the occasion, the village of
Ilion gave bronze statue trophies, representing Remington at his forge,
to the National and State Guard organizations of every state in the
union to be competed for as perpetual prizes for proficiency in
In 1921 the manufacture of cash registers was begun at the Remington
Probably no other plant in America, and perhaps in the world, has
produced such a varied line of perfected and useful machines and devices
as the Remington Ilion works and Ilion will doubtless make other
important contributions to the industrial life of mankind in the years
For information regarding Ilion, its advantages and manufacturing
sites address Chamber of Commerce, Ilion, N.Y.