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?