Posted on 02/10/2014
In America’s oilfields, traditional wooden barrels had always been problematic for shipping oil. Despite the introduction of pipelines and railroad tank cars, there remained the need for manageable-sized, durable, leak-proof barrels.
Standard Oil Company introduced a steel version of the common 42 gallon oil barrel in 1902. It had the traditional cask-like appearance. Although stronger than wooden barrels, the new barrel could still leak. Nellie Bly, a well know journalist of the day, had a better idea.
was a big story for society pages in 1894 when Bly wed wealthy industrialist Robert Seaman, who was about 40 years her senior. She will become the energetic and innovative president of his Iron Clad Manufacturing Company.
At the time, Iron Clad produced milk cans, riveted boilers, tanks, and “The Most Durable Enameled Kitchen Ware Made.”
At the 1901 Pan-American Exposition, Iron Clad factories were promoted as being, “Owned exclusively by Nellie Bly – the only woman in the world personally managing industries of such a magnitude.”
During a 1904 visit to Europe, Nellie Bly saw glycerin containers made of steel. “I determined to make steel containers for the American trade,” she said. She patented her own “metal barrel” one year later.
“My first experiment leaked and the second was defective because the solder gave way, and then I brazed them with the result that the liquid inside was ruined by the brazing metal,” she said.
“I finally worked out the steel package to perfection, patented the design, put it on the market and taught the American public to use the steel barrel,” she added.
Bly would proudly claim that, “I am the only manufacturer in the country who can produce a certain type of steel barrel for which there is an immense demand at present, for the transportation of oil, gasoline, and other liquids.”Back to News