In its early years, Friedrichsohn Cooperage (also spelled Fredrickson) made and refurbished wooden kegs and barrels. DEC says the cooperage dates to 1817, but some historians claim as early as 1791. Tradition has it that meat-packer Samuel Wilson of Troy (Uncle Sam) was among the company’s customers.
The Fredrickson Cooperage had its own siding on the canal and when it closed was one of the oldest firms of its kind in the country. According to a 1950 Troy Record article, the cooperage was founded in about 1811 by Joseph Fixture. During the War of 1812 the barrels made here were used to ship apples, potatoes, pork, beef.
The cooperage was purchased by Jonathan Friedrichsohn in about 1836. In 1850, 23 of the 35 men in Waterford employed as coopers were Irish born. When John Friedrichsohn died it was owned by his sons Lewis and George Friedrichsohn, and then their sister Mary, who left it to a niece and nephew, Mary and H. Louis Mosely. When they incorporated the firm in 1950, wooden barrels were still being made, along with steel drums.
The cooperage was located on Route 32 (Saratoga Avenue) in Waterford (West Waterford). At the time it closed in 1991, its primary business was cleaning and refurbishing metal drums, including empty drums from SI Group and General Electric. Inspections of the facility after closing found the buildings in poor condition as well as abandoned drums, some of which were in poor repair.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, between 1994 and 1996, removed 322 tons of contaminated sludge/soil, 9,000 gallons of liquid waste and 3,767 drums from the property. The buildings were demolished and the site was added to the Superfund program. The site is contaminated with a variety of pesticides, metals, and semi-volatile organic compounds, among other things.
A fact sheet has been prepared by CHA on behalf of General Electric and SI Group, responsible parties under the State Superfund Program, regarding the start of planned cleanup activities (ID No. 546045). Under Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) oversight, General Electric and SI Group are preparing to initiate the remedial action.
The Town of Waterford will hold a virtual informational meeting about the remedial activities on Thursday, March 11, 2021 at 7:00 PM via Zoom. The fact sheet can be viewed by clicking the link below:
Photo above, Fredricksons Cooperage workers (courtesy Waterford Historical Museum & Cultural Center). Map of clean-up site provided by DEC.