Mount Vernon's First Major Industry
From 1833 to the Present Day
Knox County brothers, Charles and Elias Cooper, were born on the family farm three miles south of Mount Vernon soon after their father settled here in 1810. In 1832, they tried their hand at operating a coal mine in Zanesville, but they soon became fascinated with the old Davis Foundry there, and they decided to come home and open a foundry of their own in Mount Vernon. They financed their project by selling one of their three horses for $50.00. Their new “one-horse” operation was powered by another horse named Bessie until 1836, when a small steam engine was built and installed to power their foundry.
During the 1840’s the company built carding machines, special power machinery, plows and hollow-ware vessels. Beginning in 1846 they also supplied war machinery for the government during the War with Mexico.
By the 1850’s Cooper was building blast furnace blowing engines and a few early railroad steam locomotives, although Charlie Cooper quickly found the railroaders slow to pay their bills, so he turned his attention toward their entry into the competitive world of steam-operated farm engines.