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Company had a storied history

By By Sheila Blackmon/The Meridian Star
Sept. 7, 2001
At the turn of the 20th Century, as railroads spurred growth in a rapidly industrializing United States, one Meridian man's invention led him to build a legacy.
Many people in Meridian are familiar with Soul Steam Feed Works and even recognize some of the company's products including the Soul manhole covers throughout town.
George Wilberforce Soul founded Soul Steam Feed Works in 1892. Today, 109 years later, Soul's grandson, Bob, is the company president.
While other inventors at the time were working on diesel engines and motion picture equipment, G. W. Soul perfected a small steam engine. It was called a "feed" and was used in sawmills to move a carriage back and forth to feed logs into saws.
G.W. Soul had two sets of children, one when he was a young man and the other later in life. Soul said his grandfather was about 65 when he married his second wife and had his second set of children including Bob Soul's father.
During the early years, the company produced the steam feed. Later, it evolved into a machine shop, foundry, industrial supplier and producer of sawmill machinery.
Employees made custom machinery and machinery parts; they also repaired machinery. In the foundry, they poured gray and ductile iron into molds, producing boiler grates, gears, sprockets and other cast products, such as the manhole casts.
Sheila Blackmon is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. Call her at 693-1551, ext. 3275, or e-mail her at sblackmon@themeridianstar.com.