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History of Snow & Nealley

The city of Bangor was a hub of Maine's thriving logging and shipbuilding industries. Charles Snow and Edward Bowdoin Nealley saw a growing demand for durable, high quality tools. They opened a shipping chandlery in 1864, and thus Snow & Nealley was born. With Edward Nealley managing operations, the company quickly became very successful. During Edward's 33-year tenure, Snow & Nealley introduced the popular axes and mauls that would become the cornerstone of the Snow & Nealley brand.

Founder, Edward Nealley
Edward Nealley

William Pope Nealley, Edward's son, succeeded his father as president in 1897, and recognized that while the advent of steam had eliminated the shipping industry's need for chandler's skills, the logging industry still thrived upriver from Bangor. With the Bangor & Aroostook Railroad and the North American Railway opening vast forests for development, steel tools were needed everywhere in Maine.

The young Nealley eventually bought out Snow, and the company prospered under William's guidance. The growing middle class that emerged after World War I created a demand for tools to use around the farm and at home. Snow & Nealley responded by introducing new axe models for home use. In 1920, William discussed the possibility of marketing Snow & Nealley's products through a catalog owned by a southern Mainer named Leon L. Bean. The collaboration between Snow & Nealley and L. L. Bean endured for decades.

When William died in 1933 shortly after the Great Depression gripped Maine, his son Edward Bowdoin Nealley II took over as corporate president of Snow & Nealley. Edward ran the company for the next 23 years, managing it successfully through the Great Depression, World War II and Korea.

In 1956, Edward's son, William "Bill" Bowdoin Nealley was named the company's fourth president. During the next 25 years, Bill managed the company through various challenges including a fire that leveled the Snow & Nealley factory in the late 1950's. When Bill died in 1984, his wife Lois Nealley became president and encouraged the development of a line of Snow & Nealley garden tools, which today comprised more than 70% of the company's business into the turn of the 21st century.

An avid gardener, Lois drew on her enjoyment and intimate knowledge of the hobby to influence the design of Snow & Nealley's garden tools, testing every new prototype in her own garden. Ergonomically designed handles and special long handles for older gardeners or those who may be confined to wheelchairs were among the successful concepts Lois introduced.

Foundry In Action
All tools are forged in brick furnaces, sharpened by hand on stone grinding wheels, and carefully assembled.

These innovations, coupled with transitions in Maine's economy in the 1980's, marked the shift to garden tools as Snow & Nealley's primary product line.

Unfortunately, in the global economy that American companies are now forced to compete against, the playing field is not level and the cost of manufacturing tools here has become cost prohibitive.  (Read more about this topic by clicking here)  The garden tool line was discontinued on February 2, 2004.  The company will focus their efforts on continuing to produce axes.

For years, the Victory Seed Company was proud to offer these quality Snow & Nealley tools to our gardening friends.  When we got word they were being discontinued, we purchased a stockpile of them. Unfortunately, they are no longer being produced and as of December of 2006, we have sold the last of our stock.  Click here for the story.

Check here for awesome, individually handmade tools.


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