Stepping on Meridian in Itta Bena

Maybe you remember the post from last year, “Stepping on Jackson, MS in NOLA” where I showed evidence of Jackson’s Harper Foundry in New Orleans in the form of utility covers on the sidewalk. I’ve continued to make a habit of looking down while walking around urbanized areas, most recently at Mississippi Valley State University where I came across this manhole cover stamped by Soule Steam Feed Works in Meridian. I believe this is the first I’ve seen by Soule. Harper is much more common around the state, so you can imagine how excited I was to come across this rarity! So much so that I snapped this photo without realizing Soule’s name was upside down.

Soule Steam Feed Works opened in 1892 near downtown Meridian and its business mostly focused on producing engines and other machinery for the state’s booming lumbering industry. I don’t see anything on the Soule website that indicates when it began producing items such as manhole covers, but since Mississippi Valley State opened in 1951, I suspect it was in the post-World War II period, when the lumber mills were closing down and moving to greener forests. Soule itself shut down around 2000 and is now open as the state’s only industrial museum. The complex remains with its equipment and pretty much everything that was there the day they closed. Maybe they still have the form used for this manhole cover?

Categories: Architectural Research, Itta Bena, Meridian

7 replies

  1. That manhole cover becomes a flying carpet to the website of the industrial museum. Wow. I have to see that place on one of the days when everything steam is operating. What a catch for Mississippi! And what a great flying carpet piece to get there! Thanks.


  2. It may come as no surprise but there are many Soule utility covers and storm sewer grates in Meridian. I’ll have to go back to my photos from my last trip to Meridian but I think some of the items had a year cast on them.


    • The storm sewer grate curb lip I photographed in Meridian last year has “Soule Steam Feed Works, Meridian Miss.” and the year “1924” cast into it. It was just about 3 blocks away from the Works themselves.


  3. You have passed the habit on to me since I read your post. I find myself looking at all kinds of iron work now, especially those that you walk on. I had no idea MVSU only opened in 1951.


  4. The original Soule’ Steam Feed Works manhole cover pattern hangs on the wall in the company office at the museum.


  5. The “form” used to cast (not stamp) the manhole cover would be called a PATTERN…..oh wait…Greg just said that. LOL


  6. Have you seen any manhole, water meter covers, or similar items that are stamped CONTINENTAL FOUNDRY, OLIVE BRANCH, MISSISSIPPI? Continental Foundry had a grey iron foundry in Olive Branch. I think it closed in the late 1980s or early 1990s.


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