The Old Clark Equipment Plant in Buchanan, Michigan

Clark Equipment Company of Buchanan, Michigan produced industrial and construction equipment for most of the 20th century and was a major contributor to the US wartime industry during WWII. After the plant closed in the '80s, nature and the elements have slowly eaten away at the deserted structures.


Guardhouse of Clark Equipment Company Plant in Buchanan, Michigan

After stopping in Niles, Michigan to see the endangered Pucker Street Hydroelectric Dam, I spent the afternoon in Buchanan, MI, home of the ruins of Clark Equipment Company.

Clark Equipment Company Factory in Buchanan, Michigan

The story of Clark Equipment Company began in 1903 when its precursor, the George R. Rich Manufacturing Company, was founded in Chicago by executives of the Illinois Steel Company. Rich Manufacturing relocated to Buchanan, Michigan in 1904. 

In 1906 the company was renamed Celfor Tool, after its product the Celfor Drill. In 1916, Celfor Tool merged with Buchanan Electric Steel Company. The new entity was named Clark Equipment Company after Eugene B. Clark, the executive who organized the merger.  

Clark Equipment Company in Buchanan, Michigan

The first half of the century was a prosperous time for the company as it continued to grow and acquire other businesses. 

By the 1960s, Clark Equipment was among America's 100 largest companies. The Buchanan plant alone employed over 3,500 people. By the end of the '60s, several divisions were sold off to allow the company to focus on its core products, which included forklifts, loaders, scrapers, and its expanded line of Bobcat equipment.

Clark Equipment Company Factory in Buchanan, Michigan

The recession in the 1980s brought decreased profitability. Several factories were closed as a result, including the Buchanan plant in 1983.

Clark Equipment Company Factory in Buchanan, Michigan

There isn't much left of the old industrial complex. Many of the structures have been repurposed or demolished.

Clark Equipment Company Factory in Buchanan, Michigan

Clark Equipment Company in Buchanan, Michigan

The grounds of the old plant are not open to the public, but there is a nice walking trail from which you can get some decent views of the old property.

I walked around town a bit and enjoyed lunch at Bucktown Tap, a great little bar and restaurant. I would like to recommend stopping for a bite and a drink if you're ever in the area, but I'm disappointed to report that Bucktown Tap has closed since my visit.

Clark Equipment Company Gate in Buchanan, Michigan

I took in a few more of Buchanan's historic buildings and then headed to the city of South Bend, to see its many abandoned factories.

Historic building in Buchanan, Michigan
A historical building in Buchanan, Michigan.

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Clark Equipment Company grounds in Buchanan, Michigan

10 comments :

  1. Well done, as usual. I enjoy your articles and the history behind these places.

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  2. I'll have to check out Buchanan---I've never stopped, though we've been by on trips to see friends in Indiana. Love the shot of that house on the bottom. So many towns along US12 are going under, and beautiful homes like that can go for as little as $20K.

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    1. Buchanan seems like a nice place. I only got to see a small portion of it and I've heard I missed some interesting sites. Hopefully I'll make it back before too long.

      I almost thought the white house was abandoned until I saw that the porch lights were on. I would love to buy an old place like that some day and give it the love it deserves.

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  3. Look forwarded to all of your comments surrounding these interesting locations - - love the history lessons

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    1. Thanks! I love it when people leave comments of their memories of these places.

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  4. That historical building used to be the Zinc Collar Pad factory. It was vacant for a long time before someone divided them into apartments, then vacant again. The link is a newsletter detailing it's history.

    https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B5VjcCg61kRhRzhIX0FUQ2R5aEk/edit

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    Replies
    1. Thank you for the great info! I will update the article to include it.

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  5. In June 2015, the gate on River St was wide open and we entered (walked through) to take some pics. Not much left of the original Clark buildings, as you have shown, but we went inside what was left. I am willing to share these pics but don't know how to do so on this site.

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    Replies
    1. I would love to see your pictures. I don't think there is a way to post them in the comments, but if you have them in an online album like flickr, facebook, or google +, you could post the link.

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