Cooper Street

A one-horse industry

Charles Cooper

One-horse operation

The name Cooper originates from Charles Cooper of Mount Vernon, Ohio. His company originally manufactured farm implements and gas and steam engines, and later merged with the Bessemer Engine Co. The new firm was known as Cooper-Bessemer when it expanded into Stratford, specifically into the former spacious Canadian National Railways repair shops, with its heavy cranes and equipment. The CNR was phasing out its steam locomotive repair facilities because of its move to diesel power. The diesel electric engines could run much farther before requiring maintenance and repairs, so the Stratford shops were no longer necessary.

In 1959 the City of Stratford launched an extensive campaign to attract a replacement industry and was greatly relieved when Cooper-Bessemer decided to move into the shops. The American company bought the large plant in 1963. Because it marketed a variety of products worldwide, the name of the parent company was changed to Cooper Industries Ltd. and the Stratford operation, which manufactured gas and diesel engines and compressors came to be known as Cooper Energy Services.

In 1976, the Stratford plant received a $25-million contract for compressor systems as part of an 80-mile natural gas pipeline in western Siberia. The plant also produced 14 gas turbines for the Trans-Alaska oil pipeline. At the time there were more than 300 employees at Cooper's Stratford operation.

In 1978 Cooper partnered with Rolls Royce (in Montreal) and signed a contract with Foothills Pipelines to supply gas turbine compression systems for Phase 1 of the Alaska Highway Gas Pipeline. By Stanford Dingman

In the early 1980s Cooper transferred its Stratford operation to Ohio, leaving its site at Downie and St. David streets abandoned.


Knox County brothers Charles and Elias Cooper were born in the early 1800s on the family farm, three miles south of Mount Vernon, Ohio. In 1832, they tried their hand at operating a coal mine in Zanesville, but soon became fascinated with the old Davis Foundry there. They decided to return to Mount Vernon and open a foundry of their own, which they financed by selling one of their three horses for $50. Their new “one-horse” operation was powered by another horse named Bessie until 1836, when a small steam engine was built and installed to power their foundry.

In the 1890s, they started the Bessemer Gas Engine Co. of Grove City, Pa., and by the 1920s had one of the world’s largest industrial plant foundries among its 29 buildings. Their need for additional capital and production facilities resulted in an April 4, 1929, merger that created the Cooper-Bessemer Corp. Source: Knox County Historical Society Picture: Geni