Throughout much of the world, wooden barrels have been the primary method for storing and transporting bulk materials for centuries. Those who make and repair casks, barrels and other containers are known as coopers, and a cooperage is their business place. (A famous cooper from the past was John Alden, hired as the ship’s cooper on the Mayflower.) Though no cooperages are listed in today’s Sandusky telephone directory, they were an important business in Sandusky, Ohio in the 19th and early 20th centuries. In the 1867 Sandusky City Directory, there were over fifty listings for coopers, many who worked from their own home or barn.
As packaging and shipping innovations developed in the twentieth century, the number of cooperages in Sandusky began to decline. In 1912, only five cooper shops were listed in the Sandusky City Directory. And to compound matters, the 1924 tornado did severe damage to both the Michel and the Kilbourn Cooperages.