|Continental Rubber Works, 19th and Liberty St., Erie PA. From 50th anniversary booklet. The building along West 20th Street still stands, as does the building on the left, 2000 Liberty St., which is now Triangle Tech.|
Continental Rubber was chartered in August 1903 in Pennsylvania. Theron R. Palmer, founder of the company, was President and General Manager. Alex Jarecki was Vice President, Charles S. Coleman was Treasurer and Charles Jarecki served as Secretary. (Alex Jarecki was also the superintendent of the Jarecki Manufacturing Co., which was co-founded by Charles Jarecki. Learn more about Jarecki's here.
"Mr. Palmer had found an ideal plant location at 19th and Liberty Streets. The new plant, formerly occupied by the Tribune Bicycle Works, consisted of four large brick and stone buildings with a floor space of approximately 115,000 square feet...Within four years, all the original buildings were occupied by new machinery and other production facilities to meet the ever-growing demand for Continental tires, tubes, hose and other rubber products...
From the beginning, Continental was organized to produce bicycle tires and tubes, industrial hose and various calendared and molded rubber products. It was the bicycle tire, however, that was to provide the vehicle of rapid company progress in those early years...Within a few short years, Continental bicycle tires under the trade name Vitalic were accepted as the standard of quality not only in the United States but throughout the world...
When the nation mobilized for war in 1917, the company was equipped and staffed to take an important part in the fight to 'save democracy.' Tires, tubes, gas masks and scores of other rubber products for the armed forces were turned out as Continental's greatly augmented staff worked 'round the clock, seven days a week...
By 1914, it became apparent that still greater plant capacity was needed to keep pace with increasing sales. In that year, a three-story brick building known as Number 6 was erected. In 1923, an addition was made to Number 6 which extended it a full block from Plum to Liberty Streets. The new building almost doubled the manufacturing area." -Fifty Years of Service booklet.
The booklet failed to mention that workers went on strike April 2, 1941. "Officials of the Continental Rubber Works' Erie, PA, and of United Rubber Workers (CIO) union were asked to meet a mediation board panel here Friday to try and end the five week old tie up of the plant, which was making synthetic rubber for airplane engines. The union asked wage increases, a union shop, and vacations with pay, for the 840 plant employees."-Ellensburg Daily Record, Wednesday, May 7, 1941.
"The Continental Rubber Works...was reopened today with 100 men returning to their jobs. A seven cents an hour wage increase was negotiated at a Defense Mediation Board hearing. Of the 700 workers who went on strike, asking a 10 cents an hour increase, more than 300 are employed on other jobs, it was said." -Pittsburgh Press, May 14, 1941,
When the anniversary booklet was printed in 1953, John Beecher and Rose Pongratz had worked for Continental Rubber Works for 45 to 50 years each.
Pasquale DiMarco, Lena Hartline, F. R. McCarty and Fred Wolf had worked for the company for 40 to 45 years each.
People who worked at Continental Rubber Works for 35 to 40 years included: Joseph H. Bohrer, John Brutcher, James Ford, Joseph Hagmann, Dr. Paul H. Henkel, John Kosobucki, H. Edward Mehl, Clacy McNary, Anton Nowak, Delmar Shanks and Rolla Sturgeon.
Erie Forge & Steel bought Continental Rubber Works in 1961, and then sold Continental Rubber to Continental Copper & Steel Industries, Inc in 1963. The Liberty Street plant closed many years ago.
Five hundred workers at Continental Rubber were on strike from July 1 to September 13, 1963.
A rental hall called the Continental Ballroom operated in the eighties and nineties in a portion of the old Rubber Works on the northeast corner of West 20th and Plum Streets.
Enjoy more historical facts and photos of Erie, Pennsylvania at: Old Time Erie