Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The Story of Boiler Corner

The Daily Register, May 14, 1901

Three Quarters of a Century and More the Old Boiler has Remained a Landmark at the Point of Greene and Ohio Streets, Gradually Disappearing From View.

Only a very small proportion of the newer inhabitants of Marietta are aware that there is such a landmark in Marietta as "Boiler Corner."  The older inhabitants very frequently mention it, and there have been so many inquiries concerning the matter that for the information of the latest residents, we will relate what is commonly known of its history, the facts being secured from G. W. Woodbridge's manuscript.

Away back in the early part of the century, Dudley Woodbridge conducted a general commission and forwarding business at the pint which is now the corner of Greene and Ohio streets.  His business was a good one and his store the headquarters of most of the river commerce.  Among other things, he ordered boilers and other heavy machinery from the manufacturers, charging a commission for the safe deliverance to the buyer.

In 1817, Mr. Woodbridge received a boiler which had been ordered by one of his customers, and paid the charges and commission on the same.  For some reason or other, the buyer failed to call for the boiler.  The cumbersome article was set up against the building to await the arrival of the owner.  The years slipped quickly by, until 1835 still found the boiler in the position it had been placed eighteen years before.  It was then decided to build a new structure where the old commission store had stood so many years, and the boiler was removed away from the building to be out of the way.

The boiler was one of the upright variety, and when it was moved to the point it now occupies, at the corner of Greene and Ohio, it was placed in a standing position, with the side vent near the top.  There it has rested ever since.  The casual observer would notice nothing extraordinary about the iron tube which now occupies a prominent position on the corner.  Time and the force of gravity has caused the heavy iron to sink into the earth.  Only about three or three and a half feet now remains in sight.  The vent, instead of being near the top, is now within a few inches of the ground.  The boiler is only about two and a half feet in diameter, and looks like nothing so much as a large pitch cauldron.

For generations, the flattened iron rim has been the roosting place of loafers, both day and evening.  The marks of wear are shown on every square inch of the surface.  Several persons, with misapplied industry, have cut their initials, and date of incision, in the hard metal.  Succeeding generations to the first ones, have respected the actions of their fathers and have left the old boiler in the position left by them.  About its metallic sides have been laid several brick pavements.  The stone curbing of the street is only a few feet away, and closer still has been erected an iron watering trough for the refreshment of weary steeds.  Telegraph and trolley poles are standing near.  Many a brick building and stone structure has been built within sight, and yet the old boiler stands as it did nearly three-quarters of a century ago, impassive and heeding not.

He who first ordered the boiler is dead and forgotten.  At present no records have been found which have perpetuated the name of the owner.  Woodbridge, in his manuscript, states that Captain Knox once knew well the man who had failed to call for it, but the name, price of the article, and other facts had long slipped his memory.  But the boiler still stands, and if not molested, will stand for generations to come.  The material of which it is made is excellent, as the work of corrosion has been baffled.  Though there are many who know nothing of "Boiler Corner," yet to the old inhabitants the names is suggestive of another period long ago, when Marietta was on the order of the quiet, slow-going, village town, living out its daily life more because it had to be lived than for the pleasure of the living.  When its traditions and history were its chief recommendations to recognition, and the delight of the citizen was to tell how it "used to be when I was a boy."

Those days have gone for Marietta.  The new Marietta's past is a thing to be learned chiefly from books and does not concern the present inhabitant beyond a certain interest and pride commonly felt in remote ancestry.  The new Marietta is making a history of its own, and its citizens point in pride to its present aggrandizement rather than to the old landmarks and historic spots made famous long ago.

Whether this is the proper spirit or not bears some argument, but the old monuments will remain with us and should be the pride of the new citizens as well as the old.  Familiarize yourselves with the historic points of your town, and you will find that living in Marietta will have a new attraction for you.


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