and pickles seem like an unlikely combination for a manufacturing
company, but C. N. McHugh produced both in this building,
located just north of the intersection of Main Street and
U.S. Highway 57. The building had many uses. It was constructed
in 1862 for the production of cornstarch and it was later
used for the manufacture of wooden pumps, oatmeal and washing
machines. It finally became a broom factory in 1905.
McHugh was in
the broom business for about 40 years in Cedar Falls. This
was a highly profitable enterprise until the introduction
of vacuum cleaners made brooms less important.
McHugh was not
alone in the broom business in Cedar Falls. In the early
years of the twentieth century, the Cedar Falls Broom Works
at 429 Fourth Avenue and the Cedar Falls Broom Company at
205-1/2 Main Street offered competition.
McHugh was also
the agent for a large pickle maker. He purchased loads of
cucumbers from farmers north of town. Most of these cucumbers
were shipped to a larger plant for processing, but the largest
ones were made into dill pickles in this building's brine
In addition to
his broom and pickle business, McHugh was also a politician.
He served as mayor of Cedar Falls from 1935 to 1943 and
was an active supporter of riverfront restoration and the
establishment of city parks.
McHugh was popularly
known as the "Pickle Mayor." He gained public
support and recognition by generously donating pickles to
church suppers, lodge dinners and other charitable events.
The broom and
pickle factory has been converted into The Old Broom Factory
Restaurant, a practical use for one of Cedar Falls' last
remaining riverfront industrial buildings. The building
is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.