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Encyclopedia Dubuque


"Encyclopedia Dubuque is the online authority for all things Dubuque, written by the people who know the city best.”
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The Chamberlain Plow Company eventually became the Norwegian Plow Company in Dubuque. Photo courtesy: William K. Hammel
Victorian trade card of the Chamberlain Plow Company.
Trade Card
CHAMBERLAIN PLOW COMPANY. The future manufacturing giant began as a small blacksmith shop in Orfordville, Wisconsin. H.H. Sater, later the superintendent of the NORWEGIAN PLOW COMPANY, made plows with a small anvil. A larger shop which utilized machinery was constructed in Brodhead, Wisconsin by C.W. Mitchell and others.
Trade Card
Trade Card
Chamberlain advertisement
Trade Card
Trade Card

In 1877 William C. CHAMBERLAIN purchased an interest in the Wisconsin business and opened a branch office and salesroom in Dubuque. The name of the company at that time was Chamberlain, Mitchell & Company.

The Chamberlain Plow Company was established on November 4, 1880, with a capital stock of $120,000, additional capital being added when the company was re-organized in 1885. Sixty men were employed in the shops and offices and six traveling men represented the company throughout Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Texas, Kansas, Nebraska and Dakota Territory. The factory was located in the buildings once belonging to ARMSTRONG'S CARRIAGE AND WAGON COMPANY. (1)

Chamberlain Plow Company had a capacity of manufacturing 8,000 plows, 3,000 cultivators, 8,500 harrows and other machinery yearly. The main four-story high factory was located at the corner of Jones and Locust STREETS while their 80X100 foot warehouse was on the First Street Extension on the levee. Transfer offices of the company were established at Kansas City, Omaha, Lincoln and Minneapolis.

In 1890 the company asked the city of Grinnell for $25,000 to move their operation to that city. (2)

In 1891 Eickelberg Brothers sold the old Chamberlain plant in Dubuque which they had purchased months earlier to the Appliance Plow and Manufacturing Company. They, however, kept enough of the machinery to aid their company in Waterloo, Iowa. (3)

The 1884-1885 and 1886-87 Dubuque City Directory gave the corner of Locust and Jones as the address.



1. "New Plow Factory," Dubuque Herald, November 6, 1880, p. 4. Online: https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=uh8FjILnQOkC&dat=18801106&printsec=frontpage&hl=en

2. "Local News in Brief," Dubuque Daily Herald, April 29, 1890, p. 4

3. "The Chamberlain Plow Plant," Dubuque Daily Herald, September 5, 1891, p. 4