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Every Number Tells a Story

By: Lodge Cast Iron / May 18, 2022

In 1896, Joseph Lodge began creating legendary cast iron in a foundry he called Blacklock. While the foundry burned in 1910, it was reborn as Lodge Cast Iron and remains an important part of our story to this day. Now, we honor our history through a premium collection of triple seasoned, lightweight cookware that shares the Blacklock name. Launched in 2019, Blacklock cast iron brings durability, craftsmanship, and versatility to cooks everywhere. Each piece of Blacklock has been linked to a date in Lodge history — cast into the iron, these dates serve as reminders of our roots. Read on to discover what each number means, and why it matters. 

Every number tells a story

Blacklock *63* 7 Inch Skillet

This cast iron skillet commemorates the year 1863, when Joseph Lodge left his Pennsylvania home in search of work. As the oldest son of five siblings, it was Joseph’s responsibility to make a living after the death of his father. So at 15, he packed his things and headed for Wilmington, Delaware to train as a machinist at Poole’s Machine Shop. In the years that followed, his training would take him across Central and South America before returning to the United States to found a cast iron business of his own.

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Blacklock *96* 10.25 Inch Skillet

This skillet commemorates 1896, the year when, at the corner of Cedar Avenue and First Street in South Pittsburg, Tennessee, a former railroad foundry was given a new start. Joseph named it the Blacklock Foundry and focused business on cast iron manufacturing. Original products varied from stoves and sad irons to tea kettles and kitchen sinks. The bread and butter of production? Cast iron cookware. 

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Blacklock *39* 12 Inch Skillet

Following a strong period of growth in America, the stock market crashed in the early 1930s and devastation rocked the nation. Consumer purchases of cast iron cookware declined and Lodge needed to find a way to keep the doors open. Richard Leslie Lodge, Joseph’s son, noticed skillets weren’t selling, but people would still buy doorstops. In response, Lodge increased production of doorstops and fireplace irons in the likeness of animals. These items experienced far more successful sales during this period of time. This ingenuity and resourcefulness not only kept the family-owned business afloat, but kept local workers steadily employed through the end of the Great Depression in 1939, and beyond.

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Blacklock *10* 14.5 Inch Skillet

By 1910, Blacklock employed 100 men. The local newspaper called it “the largest independent sad iron and hollow ware manufacturer in the South.” Each day at 4 am, production began. Workers would melt the iron in the cupola, then pour it into the molds around 9 am. From there, the cooled iron would go through a shake out, to remove the cast iron from the mold. Each person managed a floor and was paid by the number of pieces completed in a day. After 14 years of successful production, however, Blacklock’s fate hung in the balance: late one night in May, a fire sparked and roared through the building, burning the robust foundry to the ground. But Joseph Lodge and his family were resourceful. From the ashes, Blacklock rose again to become the company we recognize today: Lodge Cast Iron.

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Blacklock *49* 4 Quart Deep Skillet With Lid

After 18 successful years at the helm of Lodge Cast Iron, Richard Leslie Lodge retired from his position as president of the company. His nephews, Charles Richard “Dick” Kellermann Jr., William Leslie Kellermann, and Francis Kellermann began the third generation of Lodge family leadership in 1949. Known as “the Kellermann brothers”, these three divided corporate functions and responsibilities and together made advancements toward automation, reconstructed the wooden foundry, and expanded the sales of Lodge products.

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Blacklock *65* 12 Inch Grill Pan

In the 1950s, Lodge made changes toward automation in the casting process by updating machinery. In 1963, they began discussing the purchase of a Danish molding machine called a Disamatic. Once used to mold and manufacture weapons during World War II, Disa switched its focus to develop sand-molding machines for metal casting production. Lodge purchased the second U.S. Disamatic in 1964 and in 1965, became the first American company to use the Disamatic on U.S. soil. The addition of this machine greatly improved production capabilities, as the machine could do the work of up to eight men.

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Blacklock *77* 10 x 20 Inch Double Burner Griddle

What better way to celebrate two moments in our history than with a versatile cast iron double burner griddle? In 1877, Joseph married his wife, Anna Elizabeth, whom he’d corresponded with as a friend throughout his world travels. This same year, Joseph bought land in South Pittsburg and created a home with Anna Elizabeth.

… And a hundred years later in 1977, their grandson William Leslie Kellermann helped carry the company through tough economic times. He created a plan to reconstruct the foundry, using steel columns to support a new roof and eventually building a new exterior. This multi-year project enabled Lodge to bring employees back to full, 5-day workweeks.

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Blacklock *02* 5.5 Quart Dutch Oven

For many years, Lodge cast iron cookware was sealed with a wax coating that consumers would wash off before seasoning the pans themselves at home. Experienced users understood the process, but beginner cast iron users often viewed it as an obstacle. In an effort to fix this perception, Lodge’s President and CEO, Bob Kellermann, led the initiative to pre-season each piece of cast iron cookware before it made its way to stores. In 2002, the process was finalized and Lodge debuted seasoned cast iron. As the first manufacturer to introduce this concept into the market, Lodge experienced great success. Seasoned sales quickly outperformed unseasoned iron and in five short years, seasoned iron was so popular that Lodge entirely discontinued the production of unseasoned iron.

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Blacklock *17* Braiser with Lid

In 2017, Lodge opened a 127,000-square-foot foundry located just a few blocks from the original foundry in South Pittsburg. The construction of the new facility was part of Lodge’s largest expansion since 1896. The new foundry increased Lodge’s manufacturing capacity by 75% in response to the booming demand for cast iron products in the US and around the world.

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Contributed By: Lodge Cast Iron

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