Manville, N.J. Asbestos City

asbestos-cityPhoto by Neal Ranauro circa 1951-1952.

This crazy sign was on the way into Manville coming in from Millstone along River Road. While it may seem really ominous or silly in retrospect, you have to remember that at that time no one knew the adverse affects of manufacturing asbestos. A small industrial town was rising up and proud of its successes.

Pictured is Helen Palochko (left) and Julia Katko (right). Both worked at Johns-Manville. According to Helen they found out later that there was poison ivy all around them. Thanks so much to Helen Palochko Petras for contacting me and providing the details on this one! I love when that happens!

This photo is a bit tall to fit on the page, but if you click on it, it will adjust to fit your screen. Enjoy.

Johns Manville strike of 1970

IMG_6433All photos by Neal Ranauro • Click photo to enlarge

So given the current political environment it felt like the right time to finally post these JM asbestos strike photos. Back in 1970 a bunch of papers were carrying national headlines about asbestos workers contracting asbestosis, lung cancer, and mesothelioma from spraying buildings under construction, which ultimately led to the banning of the practice completely in New York, Boston and Chicago. They reported on the death of Albert Hutchinson, who was a prominent asbestos industry union leader. I can only assume that was the catalyst for these demonstrations, which carried on for months in 1970

Maybe some of the folks on this board can comment on the local events that led to this particular protest, as this is basically recent history. For me personally, I was born in 1976 and most of my memories of JM are of the barely active shadowy factory that loomed behind a huge creepy fence. Of course, nearly everyone in my family worked there at one point or another. Anyway without involving my personally feeling in the matter… here are some photos. They will all enlarge if you click them.

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Here is an actual homemade protest sign that was included in Ranauro’s collection. There is no credit to who made it…

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Manville News, December 26th, 1941

BANNER-12-26-14Ok folks. Here is a digital version of the old Manville News. This one is great for several reasons. First of all, I have been eager to get to this one since it contains a train wreck in the Manville train yard… which is also known as Port Monmouth Junction (for all you fellow train nerds). Growing up over on Angle Ave. in lost valley, right across from the tracks, I had always heard about this one… it spilled tar everywhere.

Another reason this issue is great is that it concludes the entire year of 1941… so I get to feel like I actually accomplished something. In reality I’m only about a third or so through the stack. Still, it somewhat feels like a milestone.

One more reason this is great, is that it features a little blurb about Chester Trojanowski. Father of Tommy from the Chester House bar. The bar was named after Chester ala it’s name “The Chester House”

Allegedly he was quite a roller skater, and was performing in town in the following week. You can view and download the Issue via the following link. manville-news-12-26-1941-ocr

The “Old 1623” Johns-Manville plant switch engine

jm train crew niceThe Old 1623 • Click Photo to Enlarge

This post is for all my fellow train lovers and railfans. This photo is from the collection of Neal Ranauro, and was reprinted in The Manville News for the Manville’s 50th anniversary celebration issue. As stated in the above caption this photo was taken back in 1938 by Ranauro and features the John’s Manville work train and crew. Affectionately known about town as “the old 1623” this work horse and it’s crew manned the 12 miles of track within the JM yard moving the 1200 or so different types of products to the appropriate lines to be moved out across the country. This is a great and iconic photo. Another great one from Neal Ranauro… that guy was the best.

Just for good measure here is one more shot of “The Old 1623” about to take flight. She truly is handsome.

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Manville Sewage dedication Booklet / Timeline.

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So I know how boring this sounds, but I swear to god this little booklet is one of the most comprehensive Manville histories that had ever been compiled up to it’s printing in 1938. It includes some photos, some small town history, lots of info on the Manville sewer system, a very comprehensive timeline, and a complete list of Govt. officials right up to 1938. The typography is not too shabby either.

If you are doing any sort of research on Manville this is a great place to start. You can download and save the entire booklet, and you should. But if you don’t have the patience for that I am going to include preview photos of the timeline below since I feel like it’s amazing. OR you can just skip straight to looking at the whole thing… it’s worth it and you can view it right HERE.

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Manville Shanty Town Fire?

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Manville Fire • Click to Enlarge

Awhile back I did an article on the old Manville / JM Shanty Town that had sprung up on the site of the old creosote factory. Which most of you know later became the Rustic Mall, and then became a Superfund site, and now sits empty as a nice fenced off, perpetual middle finger to the people of Manville. If you’ve never heard of the creosote factory it made the black slime that they use to waterproof and coat railroad ties and telephone poles… and I think some other stuff. It closed sometime around 1960 and looked like this…

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Federal Creosote Factory 1954 • Click Photo to Enlarge

According to some of our readers on here, who have had relatives on the Manville P.D. the shanty town were a bunch of folk who lives in boxcars and old handmade shacks. There were a lot of fights, and it was just a rough part of town. Dangerous. The police were summoned back there… a lot.  If you have never heard this place I encourage you to click that link in the previous paragraph to see some photos.

Rumor has it the place burnt to the ground. People died. A lot of people were hurt. I’d be going out on a limb here to assume the above photo was the actual fire that burned the shanty town down, so I’ll just say it could be. Regardless it’s a great photo Taken by Neal Ranauro, to whom we owe a great deal for his very comprehensive collection of almost everything Manville.

Thanks to Gary Carmon for bringing this photo to my attention. He also is deeply interested in Manville’s history and has a great site with some more of Ranauro’s photos, which are not featured on this blog. You can see those HERE.

Manville Paving… Part 2

1st download 4504OK guys. So I have a bunch of more paving photos. This is sort of a companion post to the previous one. These seem to be geographically located all over the place. I know these huge photo streams are a lot to take in, but these all go together so I figured I’d just throw them out there. Any help I.D. ing the men would be appreciated. The photos will expand if you click them… This one below is the corner of Washington Ave. & South 8th!

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In this group you can see the water tower in the back. It’s funny how revealing that thing is for history. The fact that you can read the beginning of “Manville” tells us this is on the North side close to the tracks above North 11th or so. Maybe Brooks Blvd? What an awesome machine!
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This next photo is interesting. I’m wondering if that building back and to the left could be the old Manville Polish Home building that was formerly on North 4th. Manville will surely recognize the name Kupper from the Airport. I wonder what the relationship was here.1st download 4457

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Johns Manville Shanty Town?

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One of the biggest Manville urban legends that has continued to escape me is one about a “shanty town” that had sprung up around the JM property. I think I have possibly tracked down some photos. I cannot confirm this is it, using context clues here is what I came up with. In the photo above on the left is what looks like the asbestos bays from JM that backed up to the tracks that run over Main street. It looks like the Watchung Mountains in the background there. On the right if you really look you can se the other train line that cuts through the Lost Valley. To be honest when I look at these photos it seems more like this whole site is on what would’ve been the Federal Creosote Factory land, which was nestled in between the two train lines right before what was then know as Port Reading Junction (or basically the Manville train yard).

From the lose hearsay and unreliable information I have gathered over the years, I’ve heard that this was essentially built by workers out of old train cars and scrap wood and that it had eventually burned down. If anyone has any stories of can confirm that this is actually the shanty town, please comment on this. Here are a few more shots. They will all expand if you click on them. Thanks Anne Sullivan for contributing these.

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Manville Saw Mill Revisited

The Manville Saw Mill • Photo by Neal Ranauro • Click To Enlarge

A few of these photos will look familiar to some of you. That’s because 3 of them have appeared on here before. The mystery of the Manville Saw Mill has just still not been solved. I decided to look back into Neal Ranauro’s archive and post all of the photos of here. The photo quality is also a little better this time. So let’s talk about this one more time… and please, if you know anything I need help on this one.

Here’s what we know based on Ranauro’s notes. These photos were taken in 1920. The Mill was allegedly located “between The Manville Elks and Christ the King School”. Here are a few more photos, you can click on them to expand them. They will expand twice.

It would make sense to me that a saw mill would exist behind the Manville Elks since there are woods back there, but I don’t recall in any of my 80s childhood adventures through those woods seeing a cleared out space of young trees. The readership on this site has exponentially grown, so I ask you once again…

Do any of you recall or know about The Manville Saw Mill?

Petey’s Films • Manville Businesses

This next episode of Petey’s film’s really strikes a personal chord with me, and not just because it’s about Manville. You all know that I’ve been sharing the old Manville News issues on here thanks to the good graces and help of Kevin Shutack. Kevin’s family owned the local print shop, which produced the town’s first newspapers, which is why he had them laying around all this time. As a graphic designer, part time letterpress printer, and employee at a local newspaper, I was floored at the opening scene of this video being the old Manville News. Now that I’ve spent the year archiving these I get to actually watch them being produced! Not only that, but I get to watch them being printed on a letterpress machine, and using a Linotype machine, old printing methods which I also happen to be in the practice of doing myself as a hobby. Anyway, not to focus too much on one section, this video highlights a few other businesses in the Manville area, including London Fur Dyeing Company, (cigar maker?), liquor store, Lloyd Garment Company (21 South 3rd Ave). As always if anyone can elaborate on these films please leave a comment! Thanks again to Gary Carmon for digitally archiving and sharing these!