Storm King Torch

 D. Winters

 

The Storm King street/highway utility torch had its origins in Springfield, Illinois, first made by a firm that was better known for the production of carbide miners’ lamps.  George Shanklin of Springfield copyrighted a design for a carbide lamp in 1913 and incorporated the Shanklin Manufacturing Company in 1925.  The very popular “Guy’s Dropper” carbide miner’s cap lamp was patented in 1925 as the company continued to grow.  Following the successes of the McCloskey Torch Company and the Toledo Pressed Steel Company in the mid 1920’s, Shanklin entered the market of manufacturing open flame torches.  The Shanklin “Storm King” torch was similar in design and function to those made in Toledo; however, the torch body had vertical corrugations and the burner hood had triangular flame openings giving it a distinctive appearance.  Unfortunately, the Shanklin Manufacturing Company was a victim of the Great Depression and was bankrupt by 1930.

 

Jacob Sherman of Chicago purchased the company in 1932 thereby providing his companies with manufacturing capabilities.  Through a series of reorganizations, The Park Sherman Company, named for Sherman’s first son, became centered in Springfield with corporate offices in Chicago by 1937.  During this period the company still produced the ”Storm King” torch under the Shanklin Mfg. Co. name.  Early ”Storm King” torches had the patent number 1732708 stamped on the burner hood.  This is the same patent number assigned to the 1929 patent for a torch burner hood by Joseph E. Withrow and Lyman W. Close assignors to the Toledo Pressed Steel Company.  Two patents for burner hoods were granted to James H. Horsley, assignor to the Shanklin Manufacturing Company in 1934 (1983372) and 1937 (2093274).  Apparently Shanklin manufactured its torch under license obtained from the Toledo Pressed Steel Company until it received its own patents.

 

A U. S. Supreme Court decision in 1939 ruled eight of the fourteen claims of the 1929 Withrow and Close patent invalid.  The Toledo Pressed Steel Company had sued Standard Parts, Inc. and Huebner Supply Co., sellers of the Bolser and Kari-Keen flares for patent infringement.  Montgomery Ward & Co. was involved in this decision also.  The opinion of the Court was that the Withrow and Close burner hood device resulted from the aggregation of two well-known devices, a torch and a cap, therefore it lacked invention or discovery.  The Toledo Pressed Steel Company subsequently filed a disclaimer for the eight claims ruled invalid, but continued to place the patent number on the side of its torches for many years.

 

Later ”Storm King” torches were manufactured by the Universal Lamp Co., also a subsidiary of Park Sherman..  In addition to torches and carbide mining lamps, the Park Sherman Company made lighters, other smoking accessories and novelty items.  In 1960 the Park Sherman name was sold to the New Jersey firm of Ketcham & McDougall and the Park Sherman Division moved from Springfield to Murfreesboro, Tennessee due to high wage costs and labor problems.  Only seven of the 300 workers were moved with the company.  Jacob Sherman died the following year.  In Tennessee, the company continued to produce products under the name of Park Industries.  The last ”Storm King” torches manufactured in the 1960’s were made under the Park Industries label.

 

David R. Winters

Pontiac, IL

June 18, 2005