Wheeling Young Preservationists

Preserving Wheeling’s past builds a better community today

WheeLove: Warwood Tool

WheeLove: Warwood Tool

By Alex Panas and Bekah Karelis

This article is part of a month-long series celebrating National Preservation month.  WheeLove spotlights business owners that have contributed to Wheeling’s success. This is just a glimpse at one of many businesses that contribute to Wheeling's revitalization. Business owners who are interested in being featured on a WheeLove blog should contact Alex Panas and Bekah Karelis at wheelingyoungpreservationists@gmail.com.

An Historic American Engineering Record (HAER) exists for Warwood Tool company.  It can be accessed and viewed at the Library of Congress' website.  Photograph courtesy of the Library of Congress.

An Historic American Engineering Record (HAER) exists for Warwood Tool company.  It can be accessed and viewed at the Library of Congress' website.  Photograph courtesy of the Library of Congress.

If you venture far enough North on Wheeling Heritage Trail, you’ll find a long, metal building with vented walls, just wide enough to take a peek inside. Depending on the time of day, passersby may wonder if this nondescript building is just an empty shell, unaware that there is a vibrant business within its walls. Warwood Tool, located at 164 North 19th Street, is a thriving business and has been since it opened in 1854. They produce a variety of steel tools that are 100% made in the United States. Current Vice President, Philip Carl, and President, Logan Hartle, were kind enough to give the Wheeling Young Preservationists a tour of their factory.

Members of the Wheeling Young Preservationists walk through the long factory with their tour guides.  

Members of the Wheeling Young Preservationists walk through the long factory with their tour guides.  

Here are five of the most interesting things we learned on our tour:

1. It’s Warwood’s namesake.

When Henry Warwood moved his tool supply company from Martins Ferry in the early 1900s, the area that you now know as Warwood looked much different. What was once secluded farmland quickly grew into a thriving town because of the new manufacturing facility. As such, the town was named Warwood in honor of the company that brought it life.

2. Warwood has it’s own color

If you spot a tool coated in a bright blue finish, it was more than likely manufactured by Warwood Tool Company. The blue finish is referred to as “Warwood Blue.” Why? Good question. Philip and Logan weren’t sure either, but the hue has been their finish of choice in recent memory.

3. This company was at risk of being uprooted from Wheeling.

Before Carl and Hartle assumed ownership of Warwood Tool, there were two other prospective buyers from Detroit and China that were interested in purchasing the company. The owner’s decision to sell to one of those foreign buyers could have taken this small piece of history away from Wheeling. Fortunately, keeping the company local was of great importance to the previous owner, and he had faith in Carl and Hartle to guide Warwood Tool into a new era of manufacturing.

4. Warwood Tool was recently featured on the History Channel’s documentary: The Men Who Built America.  

The History Channel made a wide swath through the Ohio Valley a few years ago, using many of the old industrial sites along the river to film their acclaimed documentary.  

5. It’s an old industry with a new vision.

Walking around the factory is like stepping back to a simpler time. There is no digital technology used in any of the mechanisms. Instead, there are massive, oil-coated machines that have been producing quality tools since the early 1900s. Although the company has proven successful with traditional production methods, Carl and Hartle are looking to update their production line in the next year so they can deliver the same quality and safety, but with a quicker, less-antiquated system.

Visit the Warwood Tool website

Access the digital copy of of the Warood Tool HAER Report

View photographs from the Warwood Tool HAER Report

“We eat, sleep, live, and breathe ‘Made in America’. We are hard people that make hard products. By hand, we forge, bend, grind, and handle US steel to make the finest industrial grade hand tools in the world. We depend on each other here; for growth, for humor, for safety. For all the sledge swingers who believe in doing it right the first time, for all the construction workers who rely on quality over quantity. We still make it like they used to make it, because it’s the best way to make it. We are the Warwood Tool Co, and we Earn It every day…How about you?”

Entering into the factory is a little like stepping back in time.

Entering into the factory is a little like stepping back in time.

An interior view of the factory while the location was being documented by the Historic American Engineering Record team.  Photograph courtesy of the Library of Congress.

An interior view of the factory while the location was being documented by the Historic American Engineering Record team.  Photograph courtesy of the Library of Congress.

The Wheeling Young Preservationists toured Warwood Tool with Logan Hartle and Phillip Carl on May 17 as part of May's Preservation month activities.  

The Wheeling Young Preservationists toured Warwood Tool with Logan Hartle and Phillip Carl on May 17 as part of May's Preservation month activities.