Hercules Buggy Company – Evansville, Indiana

Vehicle No. 400, a piano box buggy, from The Hercules Buggy Company Catalog No. 14 (1907)

Vehicle No. 400, a piano box buggy, from The Hercules Buggy Company Catalog No. 14 (1907)

In 1902, W.H. McCurdy established the Hercules Buggy Company in Evansville, Indiana. The plant was less than a mile from the Ohio River, with easy rail access that helped to keep shipping costs low. The Hercules Buggy Company advertised high quality vehicles built through economical methods that enabled them to keep prices low.

In April 1903, The Hub published the following article, praising the company’s factory, and detailing the features that distinguished it.

A Model Factory

“The factory of the Hercules Buggy Co., of Evansville, Ind., is without doubt one of the most modern and up-to-date carriage factories in the world. It is fitted with new machines and new devices that are marvels in the quickness and certainty in which they do the work. No expense has been spared, and the best of material has been used in everything, and as this immense building was erected with the main idea of obtaining the best results from labor and materials. We find here the manufacturing of carriages reduced almost to an exact science. Some idea of the size of the building can be had when we say it contains over 100,000 sq. ft. of floor space. The shipping facilities are of the best, as the Southern R.R. runs a switch the entire length of one side of the building, and the E. & T.H. on the other. Not a dollar is expended for cartage either on freight coming into the building or finished vehicles going out.

Emblem of The Hercules Buggy Company, from the cover of Catalog No. 14 (1907)

Emblem of The Hercules Buggy Company, from the cover of Catalog No. 14 (1907)

The dimensions of the building are 85 ft by 400 ft. On the first floor is the blacksmith department, where all the shaft ironing, axle welding and putting up of gears is done. All axles are welded by an axle welding press, a new machine built by The Long and Allstatter Co., of Hamilton, O., and one of the first in use. It has a capacity of 250 sets a day. The floor of the entire blacksmith department being covered with cement. The crating and shipping department is also on the first floor, and has a capacity of seventy-five jobs. On the second floor are the offices, gear wheel and paint departments, hanging off and body trimming departments, the hanging off department being situated in the center, and the orders coming from one side and the wheels from the other.

Hercules Factories in Evansville, Indiana, advertised in The Hercules Corporation Catalog No. 26 (undated) as “The Largest and Most Modern Vehicle Factory in the World”

Hercules Factories in Evansville, Indiana, advertised in The Hercules Corporation Catalog No. 26 (undated) as “The Largest and Most Modern Vehicle Factory in the World”

On the third floor are the trimming departments, body stock room and priming. The trimming department is divided in three sections. The stitching section containing twenty machines and the cushion and back section fifteen machines, while everything that is distributed in the way of cloth, leather or trimming materials has to go through the cutting department, which is between the two. Everything is arranged admirable. The work once started never stops until it is turned out on the finished vehicle, crated ready for shipment. Some of the novel noticeable features are the endless chain elevators, for conveying gears and wheels from floor to floor. The portable wheel racks, and the flexible boring machines, which are worked by overhead trolleys. Outside elevators convey all freight to second and third floors, and two outside warerooms, 50 x 100, contain wheels, bodies, and all bulky supplies. The capacity of factory is 30,000 jobs. Great credit is due to Mr. W.H. McCurdy, president of the company, who has been untiring in his efforts to have the model factory of the country.”

Emblem of The Hercules Buggy Company, from the cover of Catalog No. 14 (1907)

Emblem of The Hercules Buggy Company, from the cover of Catalog No. 14 (1907)

The Hercules Buggy Company was one in a group of factories managed by McCurdy, which also included The Hercules Body Manufacturing Company, The Hercules Gas Engine Company, and the Indiana Color and Varnish Company. Over time, the company diversified into the manufacturing of automobile bodies, refrigerators, and even bedroom furniture. They continued making carriages into the 1920s.

The Hercules brand still exists today, as the Hercules Manufacturing Company in Henderson, Kentucky. You can read a further history of the company on their website, http://herculesvanbodies.com/.