2637 Knox Road 2300 E, La Fayette, IL 61449

Courtesy of the Kewanee Historical Society

Discover the Rich Heritage of Kewanee Historical Society: Kewanee Boiler Exhibit

Immerse yourself in the fascinating history of Kewanee Boiler Company at the Kewanee Boiler Museum.

Today, we invite you to embark on a journey back in time as we explore the captivating history of the Kewanee Boiler Museum. Situated just a stone’s throw away from our idyllic farm campsite, this museum offers a unique opportunity to delve into the legacy of the renowned Kewanee Boiler Company.

Upon entering the Kewanee Historical Society’s Robert and Marcella Richards Museum, you’ll be greeted by a remarkable exhibit dedicated to the Kewanee Boiler Company. The centerpiece of the display is a large, beautifully-framed picture showcasing the Boiler complex as it appeared in 1926—a sprawling site spanning 13 acres of buildings on a vast 33-acre property. This striking image, donated by Burnham Industries upon the closure of Kewanee Boiler in 2002, sets the stage for a captivating exploration of the company’s heritage.

Inside the Boiler exhibit, you’ll find an extensive collection of several hundred photographs, offering glimpses into the plant’s inner workings, the dedicated employees ranging from President E.E. Baker to riveter boys, and of course, the boilers themselves, in all their grandeur and diversity. The exhibit also boasts a wide array of artifacts and memorabilia, including miniature boilers, meticulously crafted scrapbooks of news articles and publications, and documents produced by the company.

One particularly intriguing aspect of the exhibit is a collection of World War II Civil Defense clearance reports, featuring identification pictures of several hundred employees. Additionally, you’ll discover 1945 company newsletters, providing insights into the everyday lives of the employees and news about the company during that time.

The museum’s dedication to preserving Kewanee Boiler’s history extends to an assortment of sales brochures from different eras, some of which were recently added to the collection from the estate of Brule Carleson, a long-time Kewanee Boiler employee. These brochures, spanning back to the 1890s, provide a captivating glimpse into the evolution of the company’s offerings over the years.

But let’s not forget the historical backdrop that brought the Kewanee Boiler Company into existence. The company traces its roots back to 1868 when Valerius Anderson founded a business in Kewanee, initially focused on manufacturing steam heating devices for animal feed. The company evolved and eventually began producing steam boilers for residential and commercial use, thanks to William Haxtun’s ownership and his patent of a new type of boiler in 1875. This expansion continued with the addition of tube, pipe, and valve manufacturing and the arrival of influential figures like John Pierce and E.E. Baker.

In 1892, E.E. Baker and associates purchased the boiler segment of Western Tube Company, establishing the Kewanee Boiler Company. The company thrived and relocated to a larger facility in 1900, fueling its growth until its eventual closure in the late 1900s.

Throughout its history, Kewanee Boiler Company achieved significant milestones, including the development of a “smokeless” boiler in 1906, a million-dollar plant expansion in 1920, and substantial contributions to the war efforts during both World War I and II. E.E. Baker, who served as the company’s president until his passing in 1929, played a vital role in not only leading the company but also contributing to the formation and development of Kewanee Park District, leaving a lasting impact on the community.

The Kewanee Boiler Museum beautifully encapsulates the story of this influential company and its role in shaping Kewanee’s industrial heritage. As you explore the museum, you’ll also find extensive collections dedicated to other local industries, such as Walworth Company, a leading producer of valves and fittings, and Boss Manufacturing, a long-standing manufacturer and distributor of gloves.

When you visit our farm campsite, we highly recommend setting aside time to explore the Kewanee Boiler Museum. It’s a captivating journey through time, offering valuable insights into the region’s industrial past and the pioneering spirit that made Kewanee a thriving community. After immersing yourself in history, return to our scenic farm, pitch your tent, and unwind amidst the serene beauty of nature. From hiking and fishing to stargazing and campfire stories, our farm camping experience promises an unforgettable adventure for the whole family.

Come and discover the allure of Kewanee Boiler Museum—a testament to innovation, craftsmanship, and the remarkable stories that shaped our community’s rich heritage. We look forward to sharing the wonders of our farm and the surrounding area with you!

Share the Post:

Related Posts

This Headline Grabs Visitors’ Attention

A short description introducing your business and the services to visitors.