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