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The Madera Tribune

Dream of match factory went up in smoke

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webmaster | 03/07/14

As Madera entered the 20th century, optimism in the business community ran rampant. Agriculture was on the rebound after the economic disaster of the 1890’s. Workers in the Raymond-Knowles Granite Quarry were feverishly extracting the necessary material to build the county’s first real courthouse. The old flume of the defunct Madera Flume and Trading Company had been rebuilt by a new enterprise — the Madera Sugar Pine Lumber Company — and fresh lumber was shooting down the huge water slide from the mountains to the town’s new mill site. It was a great time for business, and that’s why C. M. Petty was so excited.

The Pennsylvania transplant had been in Madera for two or three years when in May 1901, he announced that Madera was going to have a new factory. This latest local enterprise would be dubbed the Pacific Match Company, and it would be the only producer of parlor matches west of the Mississippi River. According to Petty, it couldn’t miss. He fully expected to break the nationwide monopoly held by the Diamond Match Company, and it would all start right here in Madera.

Petty was joined initially by James E. Smith, W. A. Moore, and John Richardson. After forming their corporation, the men sold shares at $1 each, and by May 18, they had raised $7,000 of the $15,000 they would need to build their plant and install the machinery.

Wood for the matches would come from the pine blocks, which were sold for fuel by the Sugar Pine Lumber Company. Petty estimated that when the Madera match factory reached its full capacity, it would produce 72,000 boxes per day. He was quick to point out that this would total 720,000 matches! ...


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