Nearly from its beginning, Batavia was an industrial city. Farm implement and windmill factories provided employment for many. The first products manufactured in Batavia (flour, ice, lumber, paper, stone) found markets in Chicago.
Batavia’s significant companies are identified below. Click on any of the names above for the history of the company.
The product line of the Challenge Company, founded in 1867 was similar to that of the Appleton, including the most famous of their products, the windmill. These products found their way to all parts of the world.
By 1869, thirty or forty men were getting weekly pay envelopes at the Challenge pay window.
In 1872, the factory burned but was soon rebuilt. Before long the company was turning out 2000 windmills a year in addition to other farm equipment.
Salesmen carried samples of windmills as they toured the west by train, wagon, and later trucks, visiting farmers and extolling the virtues of windmills made in Batavia. The salesman took an order and telegraphed it back to Batavia. After the mill was manufactured, it was shipped in pieces by train to the customer. It would have to be assembled on the farmer’s land.
During World War II, the old plant was used by Batavia Metal Products for the manufacture of war armaments. Today the building on River Street is partially filled with various, small companies.
Challenge Office Area
Challenge Windmill Tail