Side A:(Continued on other side)
The Johnson Manufacturing Company was incorporated in 1902 by brothers James B., J. Will, Isaac T., and Charles F. Johnson, all of Quaker heritage. The company manufactured tin and galvanized iron ware for railroad lines across the United States. The initial product was the No. 1 long-spouted locomotive oiler with the patented dripless spout. That was quickly followed by other types of oil cans, signaling equipment, engine buckets, tallow pots, torches, track inspection devices, tin cups, and caboose and cabin car lamps, all carrying the Diamond J trademark. The makers created the patterns and everything was cut, riveted, and soldered by hand. As production expanded, the original frame building at 605 Miami Street was replaced by a brick structure in 1910, the southernmost part of the present building.
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Subsequent additions expanded capacity and the Johnson Manufacturing Company became a national leader in the manufacture of railroad operating supplies. During the Great Depression, the Roll Rite cigarette roller, poultry waterers, and hygrometers were produced from patented Johnson designs. About 1939, the firm turned from railroads to the trucking industry, designing and manufacturing air and vacuum reservoirs for brake systems. In the 1970s, during the presidency of Charles F. Johnson III, the historic original building was restored, a product museum created, the 75th anniversary of the firm celebrated, and a permanent collection of original art, including work by Champaign County artists, hung in the firm's offices to honor the heritage of the company and the community.