Clayton Mark: Founder of “Marktown”

By Phineas Upham

Clayton Mark was an industrialist who pioneered the process of making steel pipes in the United States. He was the founder of Mark Manufacturing Company, a firm he started in 1888. He created multiple products aside from piping, including water-well supplies. He created a planned worker community in the 1900s, which is today registered on the Northwest Indiana National Register of Historic Places.

The Mark Manufacturing Company was a co-partnership between Clayton and his father Cyrus. The two began with the concept of manufacturing small casings that were used to help construct wells, known as well points. That business led logically into the construction of pipes used to transport the water.

As business grew, the father-son team needed steel. So Mark built his own mill in Indiana Harbor, after constructing a new pipe mill to fulfill demand.

It was around that time that Mark began feeling like it was time to give something back to his workers. He created a community near Indiana Harbor and named it “Marktown.” He wanted to build a recreation center, school, post office, movie theater and everything else a self-sustaining town would need. He also wanted to give workers the chance to purchase homes with the money they’d earned working under him, which went contrary to his competition, like The Pullman Company, which restricted a worker’s rights to own.

Mark’s designs mimicked an English country village, but the project was never fully completed. World War I had take a toll on the company, and Mark was forced to sell his steel mill. The structures still stand today, where it is regarded as an important cultural resource by the state of Indiana.

About the Author: Phineas Upham is an investor at a family office/ hedgefund, where he focuses on special situation illiquid investing. Before this position, Phin Upham was working at Morgan Stanley in the Media and Telecom group. You may contact Phin on his Phineas Upham website or Facebook page.