There are two buildings that always catch my eye when I travel through Clifton Springs, NY on Main Street – the Clifton Springs Apartments which was formerly the Clifton Springs Sanitarium that was dedicated in 1896 and the Congregational Church which is located a little further up the hill. There’s a lot of history in just these two buildings.
But my visit to Clifton Springs took me off Main Street to 2 South Street where the G. W. Lisk Co., Inc is located. Here, tucked in some rolling terrain is an unobtrusive international company which builds world class electro-mechanical valves and solenoids. I was surprised to see the Company flying three flags at it Clifton Springs location: United States, United Kingdom, and Ireland which represent the three countries where Lisk has manufacturing facilities located.
The Lisk Company was founded by G. W. Lisk. He came to Clifton Springs in 1882 to work in a small hardware company which was owned by his Uncle David Lisk. The Lisk’s built custom tinware items in a small shop located behind the hardware store. In 1888 G.W Lisk received his first patent for a commode pail and formed the Lisk Manufacturing Co. Some of the early items which were produced were baking pans and fly sprayers which can be seen in the Clifton Springs Museum on Main Street.
On Jan. 15, 2009, Capt. Chesley B. “Sully” Sullenberger was piloting the US Airways Flight 1549 when he encountered a flock of birds which disabled both of his engines. Since the plane was without power, Capt. Sully deployed a small air turbine generator from the belly of the plane by energizing a two pound solenoid made by the G.W. Lisk Company in Clifton Springs. By releasing the air turbine generator, Captain Sully was able to regain control of his aircraft and successfully land it in the Hudson River without loss of life. It’s a story that we all know about – “The Miracle on the Hudson.”
Now Captain Sully, his crew, and his 150 passengers may someday wonder, “Why in Clifton Springs, NY?” But for those of us who live and work in the Finger Lakes, we already know the answer: Why Not?