Posted 5 years ago
Found this in a box I got at an estate sale. Still has most of the kit inside.
"Lee of Conshohocken," as it became known in the early 1900's, was a world renowned manufacturer of puncture-proof tires. It all started when Entrepreneur John Ellwood Lee Borrowed $400 from his Sunday School teacher in 1883 to manufacture bandages and other surgical materials using his mother's sewing machine in his parent's attic.
By 1905, Lee had built himself an empire, employing 600 people in a large 17 building complex (on Eighth Avenue and Harry Street) making him the largest individual employer in Conshohocken. His company, named JELCO (a contraction of the J. Ellwood Lee Company name), was then manufacturing rubber catheters, gloves, water bottles, medical tubing and, oddly enough, rubber bands. That year, the company was acquired by Johnson & Johnson and Lee, seeing a business opportunity in the newfangled horseless carriage, expanded into manufacturing rubber automobile tires in 1910. The tires had rows of steel disks embedded in the rubber, making them guaranteed to be "positively puncture-proof." They were originally sold under the name JELCO Atlas, until automaker mogul Henry Ford objected... he didn't want his autos riding on tires that suggested "jelly" to people. The name was changed to Lee Tire & Rubber Company, or simply "Lee of Conshohocken."
On May 1, 1012, a block-long, four-story, modern manufacturing plant was opened on Hector Street and North Lane with 850 employees. Lee passed away in 1914, but his tire company continued to grow - that is until 1963, when a worker's strike forced the company to close for two years. The remainder of the business was purchased by Goodyear Tire in 1965 and production continued for several more years.
The popularity of radial tires spelled the end for the Conshohocken plant. It was not tooled to manufacture this type of tire and was eventually forced out of business. In 1980, the last "Lee of Conshohocken" tire rolled out of the factory.