The Ottumwa Courier


October 3, 2012

A sweet life: Coca-Cola family business lives on through memories, collectibles


OTTUMWA — History of Ottumwa’s Coca-Cola plant

Robert Taylor came to Ottumwa in 1926 to run the plant. The rest of the Taylors moved to Ottumwa from Tennessee in 1928 when Taylor Sr. was 11 years old.

Coca-Cola was first bottled in Ottumwa in 1911 in a small building on Pershing Avenue, which sat next to an ice and cold storage building on Cass Street.

The bottling plant stood at 637 W. Second St. for 10 years before moving to an automobile garage at 120 W. Second St. in 1937.

After Robert Taylor died unexpectedly in 1956, Taylor Sr. became the general manager when he was 40 years old.

In 1969, urban renewal took the block where the plant was located, moving operations in 1971 to its current location at 632 Gateway Drive.

In 1977, Taylor Sr. retired and sold the company to Renwar and Southern Illinois Corporation, the same year that Taylor Jr. moved to California, where he stayed until moving back to Ottumwa in 1991.

Tom Konrad has served as the distribution supervisor since 1978.

Second Annual History Walk

5-7 p.m. Saturday

Tickets are $5 and can be purchased at the MSO office, Hotel Ottumwa or North and South Hy-Vee.

The historic tour of downtown Ottumwa will include volunteers in character, telling stories at each landmark.

The Wapello County Historical Museum will be open 4-7 p.m. Saturday, offering “two for the price of one” tickets.

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