January 16, 2016

Firm’s historical ties to area get new focus

1Photo provided by Mike Riordan
An employee works in the B.F. Gladding Corp. factory in South Otselic in this undated photo. The company this year reaches its 200th anniversary. Mike Riordan, the president of the Salon River International Sport Fishing Museum, is working on a book and other means of marking the occasion.

Staff Reporter

SOUTH OTSELIC — An Oswego County man is calling on Cortland County residents to help celebrate the history of a 200-year old business in Chenango County.
Mike Riordan, president of the Salmon River International Sport Fishing Museum, is working on a project to recognize the impact the South Otselic-based Gladding Braiding Products has had on local residents and the surrounding communities and is asking Cortland County residents who might have been affected to lend a hand.
Gladding Braided Products, formerly known as the B.F. Gladding Corp., was founded in 1816 and rapidly grew its reputation as the world’s leading manufacturer of fishing line. Today, the company specializes in making braided cordage used in products like harnesses and parachute cords.
“Within 110 years, they became the largest fishing line manufacturer in the world,” Riordan said. “Everybody that was anybody had some kind of connection to ChenangoCounty.”
Longtime city residents may know that the Cortland Line Co., currently operating at 3736 Kellogg Road, opened in 1915, but Riordan said that business and many others were born out of what the B.F. Gladding Corp. had done.
As Gladding grew, it began acquiring other industries to maintain a competitive edge and made many products, including marbles, hockey sticks, boats and recreational vehicles.
In 1972, the company even built one of the nation’s first fishing museums, the Gladding Sport Fishing Museum, now known as the Salmon River International Sport Fishing Museum.
The museum was housed in South Otselic until bankruptcy forced Gladding Braiding to sell of the building in the 1980s. Many of the artifacts were stored at SUNY Oswego until the museum was reopened in Pulaski in 2003.
Riordan became president in 2013.
After speaking with South Otselic residents and upper management at Gladding to learn more about the company’s history, Riordan said it became apparent that many people throughout Central New York either worked at the company or knew someone who had. He added he got the sense many residents thought the history of the B.F. Gladding Corp. was lost when the museum was sold and he wanted to show them not only are the artifacts safe, the history is alive and well.
Research led him to begin writing a book about the company to commemorate its 200-year history.
Now, Riordan is asking for the help of residents in Cortland County with any connection to the Gladding Corp. to come forward with any artifacts or even stories they may have to share.
“Nothing is too insignificant,” he said. “We’re always looking for more info about thecompany.”
His intention is to include the accounts in a special section of the book, which he hopes to be completed by the time the Otselic Valley Fishing and Heritage Association’s Fishing Heritage Day event is held May 21.
“Gladding has got a rich history in the Chenengo County and Cortland County area,” Riordan said. “I want to work together ... to preserve the fishing heritage we have.”
Riordan said anyone interested in sharing their products or stories with him for the book should get in touch with him by mid-March as the book would need to be completed by April to be out in time for the event.
For more information, call Mike Riordan at315-374-2997 or email mriordan

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