Two Hillsdale manufacturing companies have used the name "Alamo", both made excellent products; the Alamo Manufacturing Company, its gasoline engines, and the Alamo Farm Light Company their electric lighting plants. Both enjoyed some years of leadership in their fields, but like their namesake, the historic San Antonio Mission-fortress, they were overcome by greater forces.
The original Alamo fell to Mexican military might. Both Alamo plants were victims of rural electricification and the electric motor.
The first engines were sold around 1900. They were built in a plant on Welch Street (now part of Oak Street) in the city of Hillsdale, and employed 35 to 50 men. Existing records do not show the name or names of the developer.
The Alamo Manufacturing Company was organized in 1901 and after 1917, took the name of simply, Alamo Engine Company.
Land was purchased at the corner of St. Joseph and East South Streets. Buildings were erected at that location and still remain today and are still used.
The name itself has still survived in concrete over the main entrance to the building, where in 1964 the most bitter strike ever witnessed in Hillsdale, between the organized union workers and The Essex Wire Company, prompted the governor of Michigan to send National Guard troops there to restore peace.
Aproximately 116,000 engines were built in sizes from 1-1/2 to 120 horsepower. The Alamo Manufacturing Company built very high quality and dependable engines, however the company seldom involved themselves in selling their product, only in developement and manufacturing, the sales portion was left to many other entities outside the Alamo company with their own nameplates, consequently not adding to Alamo`s name being as prominant as if it had done their own selling.
Part of the agreement was that the other companys could affix their brand and colors as they chose without mention as to who really built them such as Empire, Rock Island, Flying Dutchman, Duplex Mfg., Lansing Co. and Lindsay Alamo, all were "approved agents" in fact there are many more than mentioned here.
The other Alamo plant in Hillsdale manufactured light plants for farm and rural applications, these were small DC generators that afforded customers out in the rural areas to operate lighting and power small motors mainly.
The building remains on Bacon Street, the former Allied Products plant.
In 1924 the Alamo Light Company was sold to the shareholders and purchased by Joseph Schlacks, he reorganized the company and it continued in business until about 1930, by that time many areas were served by power lines, rendering electric plants useless.
Alamo engines are highly sought after by collectors, many can be found running at county fairs and tractor shows in all parts of America and Canada.
Submitted by Alamo collector, James Anspaugh.
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