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05 Feb 2022

The Upper Peninsula Bottling Co. was established as a corporation with high hopes of success, but it lasted for only two years before it was sold. It was called either a "Bottling Co." or "Bottling Works". Adding to confusion, the "Upper Peninsula Bottling Works" name was previously used by Sorsen & Sodergren in the 1893 directory (1) and the "Upper Peninsula Bottling Co." name was previously used by Jos. James in the 1895 directory (2).

The American Bottler published initial plans for the company on 15 Apr 1908 (3). It stated that a company by the name, Peninsular Bottling Company was being organized in Calumet, and it would build and operate a factory to sell soft drinks at wholesale and retail. It would have a main office in Calumet and branches in Hancock and Houghton; and distribute throughout Houghton and Keweenaw Counties.

Instead of building in new factory, it was announced on 28 Apr 1908 that the company, known as Upper Peninsula Bottling Works, would take over Jos. James' pop factory at the end of the week (4). Articles of incorporation were sent to Lansing. The company was capitalized for $20,000 with 2,000 shares at $10 per share. Most of the stock had already been acquired by prominent Houghton Country residents. The elected officers were B. Barnham as president, J. J. Kaufmann as manager and secretary, and A. L. Lundahl as treasurer. They made plans to improve the plant and had already ordered a soaking machine, automatic labelers, an electric motor, and other accessories. Agents were appointed in Gay, Mohawk, and South Range, with others to be named in the near future. It was then announced that the option on James' pop factory was exercised and the business had passed into new hands (5).

Sales Receipt Header - Nov 1908<br>Courtesy of the Richard Dana Collection
Sales Receipt Header - Nov 1908

It was quite perplexing to then find an article, published a week later, announcing that the Upper Peninsula Bottling Works had purchased Louis Decker's pop factory in Laurium (6), the Twin City Bottling Works. The company secured a lease on the old Germania Hall on the corner of 5th St. and Pine St. in Calumet and Decker's plant and stock would be moved as soon as possible. At the meeting, they elected new officers: Edward J. Dunn as president, Paul Tommei as secretary, B. Barnham as treasurer, and J. J. Kaufmann as manager. Decker was secured to operate the plant, which was expected to open by Jun 1st.

Newspaper ad - The Calumet News, 17 Dec 1908
Newspaper ad - Dec 1908

Did the company really purchase two bottling works? It turns out, no. One day later, Joseph James announced that he did not retire and will remain in business at his old stand (7). He explained that the option on his plant was not exercised and the company acquired the Decker factory instead. The company sales receipt stated, "Successors to Joseph James". In light of these developments, they probably printed the sale receipts when they thought they would acquire James' bottling works and decided to use them anyway. We see that his name was marked over and now we understand why. Their newspaper ad curiously did not mention any proprietor(s). Now we understand why. They were a corporation with officers instead of proprietor(s). The ad also stated their phone number, and now it makes sense why it was the same as Decker's phone number.

The company was listed only in the 1910 Polk directory, which specified their location as on the south side of Pine St., one unit west of 5th St. and their manager as Paul Tommei (8). They were established after the May 1908 Sanborn map and were gone before the Jul 1917 map. Despite efforts "to secure a large share of the soft drink trade in Houghton County" (6), the company was sold in Jul 1910 to Hill & Bietila. They too, did not last long. The company certainly had to compete with well-established pop companies, including Jos. James Bottling Work, Copper City Bottling Works, and Harvey Bottling Works in the Calumet/Laurium area (8). In Houghton/Hancock, they had to compete with National Bottling Works, Sterling Spring Mineral Water Co., Wendell's Bottling Works, and Hancock City Bottling Works (8). We are now left with a few beautiful bottles from the only pop corporation in the Copper Country.

References

  1. R. L. Polk & Co. 1893. Michigan State Gazetteer and Business Directory 1893-94. R. L. Polk & Co. Detroit, MI.
  2. R. L. Polk & Co. 1895. Houghton County Directory 1895-96. R. L. Polk & Co., Publishers. Detroit, MI.
  3. anonymous. (1908, Apr 15). Indiana, Ohio and Michigan. The American Bottler 28(4): 62.
  4. anonymous. (1908, Apr 28). Factory Option to be Taken Up. The Calumet News (Calumet, MI). p. 8.
  5. anonymous. (1908, May 01). Option Taken Up Today. The Calumet News. (Calumet, MI). p. 8.
  6. anonymous. (1908, May 08). Decker Plant is Purchased. The Calumet News. (Calumet, MI). p. 8.
  7. anonymous. (1908, May 09). Still in Business. The Calumet News (Calumet, MI). p. 8.
  8. R. L. Polk & Co. 1910. 1910 Calumet, Houghton, Hancock and Laurium Directory. R. L. Polk & Co., Publishers. Detroit, MI.

99
Upper Peninsula Bottling Co bottle
capacity: quart
color: aqua
top: Hutchinson top - tooled
maker's mark: ROOT (base)
other marks: (none)
date: 1908
rarity: extremely rare

100
Upper Peninsula Bottling Co bottle
capacity: half-pint
color: aqua
top: Hutchinson top - tooled
maker's mark: R G CO (back heel)
other marks: (none)
date: 1908
rarity: rare
  • half-pint-sized complement to 99

101
Upper Peninsula Bottling Co bottle
capacity: quart
color: aqua
top: crown top - tooled
maker's mark: ROOT (base)
other marks: (none)
date: 1908-1910
rarity: scarce
  • different plate from 99
  • T in CALUMET to the right of I in BOTTLING
  • same plate for 101 and 101a
101a
Upper Peninsula Bottling Co bottle
maker's mark: (none)
other marks: X (base)
rarity: scarce
  • same plate for 101 and 101a
  • no maker's mark
  • this variant was not listed in the book

160
Upper Peninsula Bottling Co bottle
capacity: quart
color: clear
top: siphon top
maker's mark: (none)
other marks: MADE IN AUSTRIA (base)
date: 1908-1910
rarity: extremely rare