In 1901, Edward J. Lobdell ventured to Northern Michigan, settling in Onaway. He formed the American Wood Rim Company by merging four high-quality wood rim manufacturers. Lobdell organized the Lobdell-Emery Manufacturing Company to handle a large sawmill and lumbering.

In 1904, thanks to the ever-growing demand for automobiles, the American Wood Rim Company began manufacturing wooden steering wheels. Their experience with bicycle rims helped make a smooth transition to manufacturing steering wheels.

By 1905, the American Wood Rim Company was the world’s largest producer of wooden bicycle rims.

With Charles H. Kendrick’s all-wood steering wheel patent, the American Wood Rim Company became one of the world’s largest suppliers of wooden steering wheels…not just for automobiles, but for bicycles, boats, cycle-cars, and tractors.

The ruins of the Lobdell plant still stand in Onaway and is a mecca for abandoned-site investigators. Take a look at some photos below!

 

 

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