Lodge Cast Iron Store opens factory store in Lynchburg

Lodge Cast Iron Store opens factory store in Lynchburg
Another southern brand made right here in Tennessee but beloved around the world opened a retail store in Lynchburg this week as Lodge Cast Iron joined the shops of the historic district. {A Lynchburg Times Photo}

LYNCHBURG — It’s located along Mechanic Street inside the renovated Cashion Brothers Texaco once owned by Alf Cashion and James Thomas that dates back to the 1940s. The building served not only a gas station but also as a coffee roaster, the Lynchburg Chamber Welcome Center, and most recently as an Indian Motorcycle’s gift store. Lodge repainted the historic Texaco gas pumps their signature yellow.

It’s heirloom cookware that’s popular in the South and well beyond and this week, South Pittsburg’s Lodge Cast Iron opened a retail store here in Lynchburg just off the historic square. It’s one of just four located throughout the state including the factory store located in their hometown as well as locations in Pigeon Forge and Sevierville.

Lodge Cast Iron seems like a natural fit for a retail space in the home of one the oldest registered whiskey brands in America. Just like the Jack Daniel Distillery, they enjoy roots dating back to the 1800’s and now produce a global small-town product. The tagline painted on the newly yellow gas pumps – Made in Tennessee. Love around the world. – could just as easily feel at home on a bottle of Old No. 7.

“We’re very proud to have Lodge join us here in Lynchburg on the square,” said Jack Daniel’s Homeplace Director Erik Brown. “We are excited to have another strong Tennessee brand help us welcome guests from all around the world.”

A history of resilience and innovation

Joseph Lodge founded Lodge Cast Iron in 1896 in South Pittsburg, Tennessee – the hometown where they currently operate not one but two foundries to meet the global demand for their products. Lodge moved to the area in 1877 and founded the Blacklock Foundry, which focused on manufacturing a wide range of cast iron products including cookware. That foundry burned in 1910 and was reborn as Lodge Cast Iron just three months later.

It wasn’t the only time the American brand exhibited resilience. During the Great Depression, the Lodge family produced novelty items like cast iron garden gnomes to keep its doors open and its workers employed. Today, should you be lucky enough to come across one, they sell online for thousands of dollars.

In the 1960s, they automated the molding process and became the first U.S. company to use a Danish molding machine called the Disamatic. This made producing their products much safer and efficient.

During the economic downturn of the 1970s, Joseph Lodge’s grandson, Leslie Kellerman, upgraded the foundry in a multi-year project meant to bring employees back to work five days a week. They upgraded again in 1994 – replacing the coal-fire cupola furnaces with electro-magnetic induction melting systems that reduce hazardous waste and made for safer working conditions.

In the 2000s, they innovated again with seasoned cast iron, carbon steel, and porcelain enamel cookware. The popularity of those brands led to the construction of a second foundry in 2017, which increased local production by as much as 75 percent.

Today, it remains a family-owned company run by the fifth generation of the Lodge family. The store will be open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at 10 Mechanic Street in the old  Cashion Brothers Texaco Gas Station Building. To learn more about them, check out the Lynchburg store’s Facebook page. •

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