Industry & Commerce
- 138 Forkshop Road, Cooperstown, NY
- 42.70197, -74.974424
The North & Denio Company made hay forks beginning around 1850, harnessing Oaks Creek water to power the operation. They also manufactured hammers, hoes, and hand farm implements. The company’s success brought the need for a new location and in the late 1800s relocated to Baldwinsville, NY, and then to Pennsylvania.
During the early 1800s the North family made Fly Creek their home, and operated a tin shop. In the 1840s, family member Ceylon North partnered Elon Denio, of Bennington, Vermont, who ran a factory in Fly Creek. The two partners drafted plans for a factory to manufacture various types of farming forks – such as those for garden, hay and manure.
The fork factory was located on what is now know Fork Shop Road, situated alongside Oaks Creek (Atlas of Otsego Co, New York, F.W. Beers, 1868). With its close proximity to the creek, the factory was able to harness its energy to power its production operations. Mills Hamlet of Oaks Creek Valley, 1786-1956, mentions that this factory, “dominated the surrounding community in a way similar to the cotton factories.” The local newspaper, The Freeman’s Journal, frequently featured advertisements for the forks. A January 21, 1859 issue featured the following advertisement, “North & Denio, garden, sluice and six-tined forks, superior articles, diploma and cash” continuing on another page, “Best, half-dozen manure forks, dip and cash, North & Denio.”
The factory’s increasing success brought the need for more water power and access to forms of transportation to ship and receive products. Fly Creek was too far away from the nearest canal and railway, therefore the factory’s profitability was becoming more questionable. As a result, around the 1860s, the factory was moved to Baldwinsville in order to remain competitive with other fork companies.
The company eventually evolved into Otsego Fork Mills and relocated to Pennsylvania, where Elon Denio’s son Alfred assumed the reins of the family business (Nelson’s Biographical Dictionary and Historical Reference Book of Erie County, Pennsylvania). As of 2019, the property where the factory once stood was home to the Creekside Bed & Breakfast.