"F&S once 'cut the dust' for thristy coal miners" article from the Shamokin News-Item

Area coal helped meet a nation's energy needs and beer helped fill "dust cutting" needs of the men who mined the coal, so it is not to surprising that the development and growth of brewing in the Shamokin-Coal Township area paralelled that of mining.

The area's coal industry was still in it's infancy when the brewing industry was born in 1854 when Thomas Richards and John B. Douty started Eagle Run Brewery. This small ale and porter brewery was located near Weigh Scales between two mountains where Eagle Run furnished the water for the product as well as its name. It has long since disappeared but its memory is recalled by the "Brewery Curve" on Route 61 between Shamokin and Paxinos .

Owenership changed hands in December 1871 when Martin Markle acquired the brewery from the Douty family and made extensive improvements . One of the more creative ones was to carve out a large vault in the red shale rock of the mountain near the brewery so the malt beverages could be stored in a "natural refrigerator"

The men whose names would be forever associated with local beer , P. H. Fuhrman and Max Schmidt did not come on the scene until 1895.

A native of Barvaria Germany, Fuhrmann came to pennsylvania in 1883 and settled in Dubois. The following year he became a sales man for the Charles D. Kaier Brewery in Mohanoy City and later became a partner in that operation after he supervised construction of a new brewery.

Schmidt, a native of Prussia Germany came to America in 1877 . He went into the grocery buisness in Philadelphia and later moved to Shenandoah to join his brother in a partnership to run a store there.

Schmidt became part of a second, more long lasting partnership in 1896 after his friend Fuhrmann came to Shamokin from Mahanoy City to purchase the Eagle Run Brewery the previous year. It was incorporated as the Fuhrmann & Schmidt Brewing Co. and offices where established in the building at Commerce and Washington streets that served as its main offices for many years, later becoming the V F W.

Quite a market soon developed for the Brewery's Fuhrmann & Schmidt Pilsner, which later become just F&S Pilsner. As F&S expanded operations expanded to include distribution and bottling works in Harrisburg, Gettysburg,Williamsport, Carlisle, Mount Carmel, Girardville and Trevorton.

Early in the 20th century, the plant firm purchased the hugeplant of the Shamokin Brewing Co. located on Harrison Street in the Fifth Ward and modernized it to keep pace with damand for its product. The old Eagle Run Plant was abandoned as a brewing astablishment in 1915 when it was extensively damaged by fire.

Fuhrmann & Schmidt had to look beyond beer with the advent of Prohibition 1918 and the company was equal to the task. The fire damaged Eagle Run facility was rebuilt and plants added in Gasport, N.Y. and Asper to accommodate a food munufacturing enterprise that produced vinegar, bouilon cubes, mayonnaise and maraschino cherries.

With the appeal of Prohibition in 1933. F&S was back in the beer buisness with Fuhrmann still as president and Schmidt still as secretary.

The Shamokin Brewery continued to grow while other small breweries throughout the region lost there foam and went flat in the next two decades.

In fact, in 1946 demand for F&S beer had increased to point where the company inaugurated an ambitious building program. This included enlarging storage facilities, installing a new cellar that contained 13 glass lined tanks to increase storage capacity to 5,941 barrels, an adding an all new electric engineer room and machine shop.

The expansion was capped off in 1954 with the completion of the new bottling shop, garage and new offices at a cost of $300,000.

Theese changes were reflected in a new package design and advertising program that featured the "Sealed Ageing Process"

Frank R. Schmidt succeeded his fathers partner as F&S president and served in that position until his retirement in the 1960's, and he was succeeded by Albert F. Buchler

It was not to long after Schmidt's retirement that a tradition of 70 or so years ended when the Henry F Ortlieb Brewing Co. purchased the Fuhrmann & Schmidt Brewing Co.

Ortlieb retained the name, kept the F&S Premium, Ale and Porter, and had Buchler continue as president and J. Oliver Schmidt as vice president in charge of sales, but it was no longer a Fuhrmann & Schmidt operation.

By the early 19070's ownership has changed hands again. The new owners were James Verrastro, Williamsport and Murray Smith, Scranton. They were at the helm when the brewery limped into "voluntary bankruptcy" in late November, 1974.

A group of loyal, longtime employee's had the brewery almost ready to make one last go of it, but a $2 million fire that virtually destroyed the huge Harrison plant November 3, 1975 dashed their hopes. After 120 years the area had run out of beer.

Article written by Walter Kozlowski
Shamokin News-Item Assistant Editor
Wed. February 28, 1996

source: http://web.archive.org/web/20041022070405/www.haywired.com/stahkalien/CUTtheDUST.html

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