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05 Feb 2022, last revised 09 Jun 2024

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 the confusion, the 1893 directory listed "Upper Peninsula Bottling Works" for Sorsen & Sodergren (1) and the 1895 directory listed "Upper Peninsula Bottling Co." for Jos. James (2).

The newspaper announced in Mar 1908 that a new bottling company was being organized in Calumet and it would be known as "Peninsular Bottling Company" (3) or "Peninsula Bottling Company" (12). It would "...build, own, and operate a factory to sell at wholesale and retail soft drinks and other products along that line." (3). It would sell stock to all dealers (12). The board of directors would consist of residents of Calumet and Hancock whose previous business record would be invaluable to the company (3). It would have a main office in Calumet and a branch office in Hancock or Houghton, and would distribute throughout Houghton and Keweenaw Counties (3).

In Apr 1908, a local syndicate secured an option for a period of ten days to purchase Jos. James' pop factory (9). It was announced later in the month 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 (4). The company was capitalized for $20,000 with 2,000 shares at $10 per share (4). Most of the stock had already been acquired by prominent Houghton Country residents (4). The elected officers were B. Barnham as president, J. J. Kaufmann as manager and secretary, and A. L. Lundahl as treasurer (4). They made plans to improve the plant and had already ordered a soaking machine, automatic labelers, an electric motor, and accessories (4). Agents were appointed in Gay, Mohawk, and South Range, with others to be named in the near future (4). It was then announced that the option on James' pop factory was exercised and the business had passed into new hands (5).

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 (6). 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 (6). Decker was secured to operate the plant, which was expected to open by Jun 01 (6).

Newspaper ad - <i>The Calumet News</i>, 18 Dec 1908
Newspaper ad - Dec 1908
Newspaper ad - <i>The Calumet News</i>, 17 Dec 1909
Newspaper ad - Dec 1909

Did the company really purchase two pop factories? 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 (7). 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. We see that his name was marked over and now we understand why. Their newspaper ads curiously did not mention any proprietor(s). Now we understand why. They were a corporation with officers instead of proprietor(s). The ads also stated their phone number, and now it makes sense why it was the same as Decker's phone number.

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

On 26 May 1908, the "Upper Peninsula Bottling Works" took possession of Decker's pop factory (10). The company leased the old Mackenzie estate building on the corner of 5th St. and Pine St. and stocked it with up-to-date machinery (10). It also acquired the surplus stock of the Decker plant (10). On 30 May 1908, the bottling works was being moved from Laurium to Pine St. in Calumet (11). Louis Decker would be in charge of the plant and would manufacture the drinks starting on Jun 01 (11).

At their second annual meeting, on 15 Jan 1909, the secretary and treasurer reported that the company was flourishing so much so that a dividend would be dispersed in the coming fiscal year (12). New officers were elected: Ed. J. Dunn as president, J. J. Kaufmann and vice president, Paul Tommei as secretary, and B. Barnham as treasurer (12).

The "Upper Peninsula Bottling Co." was listed only in the 1910 Polk directory, which specified the 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 in the Calumet/Laurium area, including Jos. James Bottling Work, Copper City Bottling Works, and Harvey Bottling Works (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, Mar 25). A New Bottling Company. The Calumet News (Calumet, MI). p. 8.
  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.
  9. anonymous. (1908, Apr 03). Option Secured on Pop Factory. The Calumet News (Calumet, MI). p. 8.
  10. anonymous. (1908, May 26). Takes Business Today. The Calumet News (Calumet, MI). p. 8.
  11. anonymous. (1908, May 30). Moving the Plant Today. The Calumet News (Calumet, MI). p. 6.
  12. anonymous. (1908, May 25). Bottling Company Formed. The Daily Mining Gazette (Houghton, MI). p. 7.

99
Upper Peninsula Bottling Co bottle
capacity: quart
color: aqua
top: Hutchinson top - tooled
base: post-bottom
maker's mark: ROOT (base)
other marks: (none)
date: 1908
rarity: extremely rare
  • T in CALUMET under I in BOTTLING

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

101
Upper Peninsula Bottling Co bottle
capacity: quart
color: aqua
top: crown top - tooled
base: post-bottom
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

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