Electric Wheel Company - The Next Generation

Published by: David Sneed, Wheels That Won The West® Archives, LLC
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The majority of what I’ve written in myblog posts over the last few years has dealt with what took place while wagon andwestern vehicle manufacturers were still building and selling woodenwagons.  That said, not all of thesecompanies ceased doing business when the market for these products finally ranits course.  Of those that survived, someevolved into the furniture business. Others began building trailers. Some went into the auto body and accessory trade.  Still others went back to their roots.
Such is the case with a company stillheadquartered in the city where it began nearly 125 years ago.  Known for building a host of agricultural equipmentduring the 19th and 20th centuries, the Electric Wheel Company (EWC) of Quincy,Illinois carved out a broad product line and rich history after itsincorporation in April of 1890. Beginning with a capital stock of $25,000 to manufacture steel wheels†,the firm has grown well beyond its enthusiastic beginnings.  While the name – Electric Wheel – may sound strangetoday, when the business was started, electricity as a welding source wascutting edge technology.  The term had asimilar impact as words/phrases like ‘digital’, ‘LED’, ‘touch screen’, and ‘wireless'often have today.  Hence, the useof the name ‘Electric’ drew attention to the firm as an innovative and trustedleader known for its commitment to quality. As you’ll see, it’s a legacy deeply rooted in this organization.
Thisrare, circa 1900 image shows a very early “Handy” wagon from EWC.  Thecompany's early literature shared their role as the originators of this type of vehicle.  It waslower to the ground, making it more stable and easier to work off of thanwagons with high wheels.  
From their earliest days through the1950’s, the company patented and produced a wide variety of products.  Included within that list are steel wheels,tractors, wagons, truck bodies, crawlers, trailers, front end loaders,semi-trailer fifth wheels, house movers, circular saws, surge brakes, scoopboards, short-turning trailers, and much more. The company was also involved in fulfilling military contracts duringWorld War II.  In 1957, the business wasacquired by Firestone and the product line shifted a bit to includerecreational trailers for products like snowmobiles and boats. 
Today, the firm is known as Titan International of Quincy, Illinois.  Whileunder a different name, incredibly, the business is still focused on theproduct categories that gave it its start in 1890.  After building so many metal wheels, wagons,tractors, crawlers, and other equipment in its early days, the business has significantlygrown; taking on a worldwide leadership role in the manufacture of tires andwheels for the most demanding of industries. In fact, as shared on their website, Titan is the only company who designs, tests and manufactures both wheels and tiresfor agriculture, construction, forestry and mining.  Building tires and wheels for well-known mega-brandslike JohnDeere, Case, New Holland, Kubota, AGCO, and Goodyear farm tires, Titan alsomakes trailer components like brakes, hubs, couplers, and actuators fornumerous other manufacturers.

OurWheels That Won The West® collection of materials related to the Electric WheelCompany spans almost three-quarters of a century.
Recently, our extensive collection ofearly EWC literature and history was tapped by Titan to help share the rich heritageof the firm.  Celebrating their 125th anniversaryin 2015, Titan International is making plans for an interpretive center withhighlights of early products, innovations, and promotional efforts.  Individually and collectively, the piecesoutline their legendary and innovative role in the manufacture of quality tiresand wheels.  So, the next time you runacross an “Electric” wagon, gear, or other product, consider the rarity of thepiece as well as the foundation it laid for one of today’s most recognizedleaders at the farm, forest, field, trail, and mine. Their slogan, ‘Titan MovesThe World’ is reinforced by the video link below. 
† “The Electric World”, Vol 15, no. 18,p.306, April 26, 1890  

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