From the Bradley Empire Appliance Company News   

Dec. 1945  

Article is owned by Donald Baldwin and is printed with his permission. 

March 3, 2004  

In 1898, when the company took over the sale of gas to the Hornell Gas Light Co., in the city of Hornell, our present line No. 14, known as the Hornell line, was laid from Alma through to that place.  Since it was not practical from the standpoint of pressures and capacity to boost the gas from Alma the entire distance, another station was built just outside the village of Andover in 1901.  It also pumped the gas from the Andover and Fulmer Valley fields. 

       But it was not on the location as we know it now.  It was located near the transmission line down by Dyke Creek on what is now the Charles Lynch farm about one mile west of the village and near the Andover – Wellsville highway.  There were three buildings.  The main engine and compressor were in a T shaped structure.  There was a boiler house and one building used for storage and a stable for the horses.  They were sheeted inside and out with tin and had tin roofs.

       In the compressor room the first equipment consisted of two 100 H.P. Oil City Automatic Gas Engines and a large Norwalk pump brought here from Ohio.  And with this equipment the men operating the station had their troubles.  The Oil City engines were the only two of their kind ever built and had rotary valves.  The valves got so hot due to faulty lubrication that they were practically worthless.  After being installed they were only run three days and the station shut down.  New Bogart engines were ordered in their places and until the arrived in the following spring, the station did not operate.  In 1902 two 125 H.P. Bogart engines arrived and the Oil City engines were junked.

       The pump was driven by two 120 foot belts off 8 foot fly wheels running in a pit in the floor.  Every time there was high water in the creek which was at least twice a year, they had to be taken off to keep from getting wet.  At one time during a flood, before they could get the belts off and hung up above the high water, the men had to wade 600 feet to the road in water up to their waists.  The Bogart engines did not prove entirely satisfactory in many ways.  At time the burnt gas was so strong that the men were unable to remain in the building.  To get away from the high water the floor was finally raised 16 inches.  It was of cement and poured in the winter and to keep it from freezing at night,  they hired two boys just out of high school to fire the boiler and keep steam heat in the building.  We mention this because it was the first job Guy Harder had with the Gas Company.  He said the company furnished them with four meals a day at the American House in Andover.  Just why so many meals he didn’t tell us.  They received one dollar a day and thought they had a wonderful job.

       To add to the experiences of those years, the boiler house burned down one night when no one was on duty and in 1907 a fire occurred in the engine room and Guy Harder, Fred Stebbins and a man by the name of John Ludden were burned.  Then about two weeks later occurred an accident that came near being fatal.  Charles Clark of the Clark and Norton Co. which was then located in Wellsville on the present site of the Air Preheater Corp., was a visitor at the station.  He was inspecting the operation of the engines and compressor with the idea of running them direct connected and doing away with the belts.  With him was Elton Harder, Guy Harder and Fred Stebbins.

       When they were satisfied with the inspection, the others stepped outside and Elton Harder remained behind to throw the switch to stop the engines.  Right then a faulty diaphragm on the gasometer just below the switch gave way and the spark from the switch set off the gas.  An explosion occurred that took out the windows and doors and removed part of the roof.  The engines were finally stopped and the gas shut off.  By this time the village of Andover realized that something serious had happened and the fire department arrived and saved the rest of the buildings.  The men were all quite severely burned and placed under the care of doctors and nurses who arrived on the scene.  Elton received the greatest injuries and it was seven weeks before he was up and about.  He carries the scars to this day.

       The Bogart gas engines were operated until 1911 when, due to the load they were operating under, they started to go to pieces.  A new addition was added to the station and the Bogart’s were replaced by two 80 H.P. Bessemer engines.  Also were added at this time two 70 H.P. Bessemer direct driven air compressors which marked the introduction of Air into the Andover field for pumping the water off the gas wells.  This latter equipment was very satisfactory and operated at the location by the creek until the summer of 1917.


       By now it was decided that the spot with the attendant floods was no place for a compressor station and in 1917 the present station was  built.  (Indian Creek)  To it was added one more 80 H.P. Bessemer engine and compressor and two Clark and Norton engines and compressors.  In this way it operated until 1926 when, due to the growing shortage of gas, on of the Clark and Norton engines was taken out and in its place was installed a 110 H. P. Ingersoll Rand Oil Engine.  This latter engine was in use until 1932, when it was taken to the Allen Water Station where it is sill operating.

       As we all know, for many years all the gas furnished to consumers came from the shallow gas wells.  By 1918 part of this gas came from oil wells and in burning this wet gas, there was a good deal of objectionable smoke.  To overcome this, an absorption plant was installed that removed the oil and made a much cleaner gas without removing any of the heat units.  The gasoline obtained from this process was high test and similar to casing head gasoline.


This product was sold to the Sinclair Refining Co., and in one year they shipped 26 tank cars or about 200,000 gallons. (Picture from Andover Historical Ass'n Files).

       In 1925 they decided to blend the gasoline with naphtha for commercial use.  The present filling station at the plant is familiar to all who have been there.  It was opened to the public and soon had a reputation of dispensing a much better product that was obtainable at the regular filling stations.  Business thrived and daily sales sometimes ran between four and five thousand gallons.  It was operated between the years of 1925 and 1929 during which time the amount of money taken in was $116,792.07.  Of course this was not all profit but it was a nice business when we consider the fact that it supplied all of the gasoline used by the company cars and trucks. With the advent of the deep gas which came into volume about 1932, there was no longer any of this type of gas coming through the lines and the absorption plant was abandoned in 1933.

       Except for a short period of two years, Guy Harder, the present superintendent of the station, has been with it since it was first started on the creek bank.


To him goes most of the credit for its successful operation throughout the years.  Today it is a busy place.  To it has been added our welding shop and it is here that we have our pipe storage and keep the bulk of our stock of fittings.  All of our reconditioning work is done here.  Old pipe is brought in and cleaned with a mechanical cleaning machine which removes the rust and scale.  A hydraulic straightening machine takes out the kinks and two Landis threading machines are in operation most of the time cutting new threads.  Guy is ably assisted in the management by his son Richard, known to all as Dick, who has practically lived with it all his life. 


The picture shows the early start he made as an oiler on the engines. 

       The present operating staff, besides the father and son, consists of Clarence Kemp, Ralph Burgett, Harold Perry, Elmer Greene, Lynn Trowbridge and Lyman Smith.  Cowles Whiting runs the welding shop.

       Briefly this is the story of the Andover Station.  If you are a new employee and have not seen it, go up some time and make Guy Harder a visit.