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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.”
Marshall Cohen—researcher and producer, CNN

Affiliated with the Local History Network of the State Historical Society of Iowa, and the Iowa Museum Association.


From Encyclopedia Dubuque
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Carr, Adams & Collier Co., Dubuque, Iowa, circa 1943 to 1958. Courtesy Alina Crow, Gronen Companies.

Photo courtesy: Bob Reding

CARR, ADAMS AND COLLIER COMPANY. This local manufacturer was the predecessor of one of the world's largest woodworking companies. Manufacturers of Bilt-Well Woodwork, the Carr, Adams and Collier Company's history began with the formation of the CARR, AUSTIN AND COMPANY on lower Main Street.

Advertising matches.

With a workforce of two men, the company produced building woodwork until destroyed by fire in 1871. The company was rebuilt on Iowa Street and expanded to employ fifteen men. In February 1879, W. H. Austin sold his interest in the company to his partners. (1) The new company was renamed W. W. CARR AND COMPANY. (2) Fire again destroyed the firm in 1879, but the company relocated along Jackson Street between Ninth and Tenth STREETS.

The company was incorporated in 1887 as the CARR, RYDER, AND WHEELER COMPANY with a capital stock of $125,000. By February 16, 1890, continued expansion of the company led to an increase in the capitalization to $150,000. The firm's name was changed to the CARR, RYDER, AND ENGLER COMPANY in August 1892. Continued business expansion led to the installation of more machinery and an increase in capital from $200,000 to $300,000 in January 1893. Officers at the time were William Wyatt CARR, president; E. A. Engler, vice-president; John Taylor ADAMS, secretary; and Ernest M. DICKEY, treasurer. (3) The need for more power led to January 1892 when the company had to close for three days while the bed under the new 500-horsepower engine settled.(4)

Photo courtesy: Bob Reding

The company's name changed again in 1897 to the CARR, RYDER, AND ADAMS COMPANY. This name remained until 1938 when the firm's name became Carr, Adams and Collier Company.

During WORLD WAR II the company's war effort included the manufacture of footlockers and ammunition boxes in addition to its more traditional supplies to military bases. Progressing through the series of changes in name, the company became CARADCO.

Advertising measuring tape. Photo courtesy: Bob Reding
Advertising model. Photo courtesy: Bob Reding
Photo courtesy: Jim Massey
Metal ash tray.
Matchbook. Photo courtesy: Mike Avitt



1. "Caught on the Fly," Dubuque Herald, February 18, 1879, p. 4. Online: https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=uh8FjILnQOkC&dat=18790218&printsec=frontpage&hl=en

2. "W. W. Carr and Company," Dubuque Herald, February 26, 1879, p. 4. Online: https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=uh8FjILnQOkC&dat=18790226&printsec=frontpage&hl=en

3. "Increased Its Capital," Dubuque Daily Herald, January 14, 1893, p. 4. Online: https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=_OG5zn83XeQC&dat=18930114&printsec=frontpage&hl=en

3. "Municipal Molecules," Dubuque Daily Herald, January 26, 1892, p. 4

4. Joe Schallan--photo