The entry of the United States into World War I in April 1917 resulted in plans for an Army of one million men.. This would require 30-40 million yards of cotton
khaki shirts and mixed meltons (wool/cotton blends) for tunics and overcoats. The U.S. military had adopted the khaki uniform in 1898 during the
Spanish-American War. By World War I, the military added a green to the natural cutch (khaki shade) dye, creating an olive-drab uniform to help soldiers
blend in with the surroundings of the European theater.
Prior to the war, the dyes for uniforms were obtained from Germany. Imported indanthrene (vat) dyes passed the stringent fastness tests set by the military.
The tests included fastness to light and to harsh chemicals such as acids and bleaches. When war broke out, the military had to rely on the sulfur dye
industry emerging in the U.S. Sulfur dyes are lower in cost but inferior in fastness properties to vat dyes. In order to assure the supply of khaki uniforms, the
military relaxed the fastness tests, requiring only a thirty day light exposure and fastness to soap and alkali.
The predecessor company of the Cooks Falls Dye Works was established in January 1917 to supply the khaki dyes for the war effort. The company setup its
plant in the vicinity of Roscoe, New York. Roscoe is located in hilly country 120 miles northwest of New York City, near the Catskill Mountains, and has an
elevation of 1,280 feet. The Beaver Kill, famous for trout fishing, runs nearby.
Bayard T. Tuttle and W.W. Gregory were the original owners of the company. Tuttle had been one of the organizers of the Beaver Kill Dye Works, an earlier
venture whose stock was owned by Ralph Roosa of Cooks Falls. Roosa had claimed the discovery of a breakthrough process to make dyes. In 1918, it
appears that Tuttle and Gregory were bought out. The Cooks Falls Dye Works, Inc. was established in May 1918 and stock certificates show the principal
owners were George I. Treyz and the Hine brothers William (president), Harry (treasurer), Arthur, and Herbert. The Hine Bros. had a office at 80 Maiden Lane
in New York City and served as the sales agency for the company. At that time, most dye manufacturers were headquartered or had sales offices in the City.
Treyz was a local entrepreneur and industrialist who had several facilities in the area extracting chemicals from wood, including wood alcohol (methanol) and
acetate of lime. The Treyz saw mill complex was another three miles up Russell Brook from the Dye Works.
The first step of the new dye company was to send out three samples of dyes, with good fastness properties, to textile mills for evaluation and approval. The
next step was construction of a plant, consisting of two wood frame buildings, in the spring of 1917. The site was on Russell Brook, about thee miles north of
where this creek empties into the Beaver Kill. The plant was alongside the narrow gauge railroad built by George I. Treyz.
The Dye Works was built and operated by Dr. Hans Bruning, a German chemist who came to America in 1894 at the age of twenty-six. His first sulfur dye
plant was reportedly on 14th Street in Manhattan. The dye production generated hydrogen sulfide which has the distinctive rotten egg odor even in the parts
per billion range. Complaints from the densely populated neighborhood shut the plant down.
Dr. Bruning was a friend of George I. Treyz, whom he met while spending summers in the Catskills as a tourist. The friendship led to siting the new plant in
the uninhabited area near Russell Brook. The five mile long, lightly built Treyz rail line serviced both the Dye Works and the Treyz lumber and wood chemical
operations. The private rail line connected with the main Ontario & Western Railway, allowing in bound shipments of raw materials such as sulfur, caustic
soda and wood flour. Outbound dye shipments were made by this rail link to many textile mill locations in the U.S.
The product range included Alizarine Yellow R, Naphthol Green B, Gambinine R & Y, Opal Blue, Direct Blue, Cloth Scarlet G and Orange 11, but the emphasis
was on sulfur dyes for the coloration of cotton fabrics:
1) Sulfur Yellow
2) Sulfur Cutch (khaki shade)
3) Sulfur Olive Green
4) Sulfur Tans
5) Sulfur Browns
The sulfur dye product range was similar to that of a competitor of the era, the Beaver Chemical Corporation of Damascus, Virginia, whose equipment and
processes are described in a 1927 American Dyestuff Reporter article "The Manufacture of Sulphur Dyestuffs".
The Cooks Falls Dye Works was a significant producer of sulfur dyes during the World War I period. The plant had a disastrous fire in November 1917, which
caused $8,000 in damage. After repairs were made, the company continued to supply dyes for cotton goods such as hosiery and canvas fabrics. When the
narrow gauge railway was dismantled around 1924, the dyes were shipped by truck. Otis Howard, a local resident, would drive the truck loaded with dyes to
New York City and return with sulfur and cutch. The truck was also used to pickup coal for the steam boiler.
William and Harry Hine remained president and treasurer respectively until November 14, 1927. When Harry died, William assumed the dual role of president
and treasurer. In March 1931 Arthur Hine was named president and George I. Treyz treasurer.
Eventually Dr. Bruning returned to his native Germany. During 1938-1939 he obtained patents for safety and technical improvements of drying ovens while he
was working for W.C. Heraeus Company of Hanau, Germany. He wrote the forward for the book by Charles G. Dawes titled "Journal of Reparations",
published in 1939. Dr. Bruning's comments on World War I reparations represented the viewpoint of pre-Hitler Germany.
The Cooks Falls Dye Works went out of business around 1949 or 1950, and the plant was demolished. The company had outlasted two competitors:
Standard Aniline Products of Wappingers Falls, which closed in 1919, and Atlantic Dyestuff of Boston, which closed around 1930. By 1950 much of the textile
industry had moved from New England to the South. The small scale of the Cooks Falls Dye Works meant higher manufacturing costs compared to larger
firms producing sulfur dyes such as Calco Chemical (division of American Cyanamid), National Aniline and Chemical (division of Allied Chemical) and General
The wood chemical industry disappeared when it became cheaper to produce methanol and acetic acid from petroleum. In 1963 the Treyz family sold 5,000
acres of property in the Russell Brook area to the State of New York for $195,000. Today the wilderness area offers recreational hiking, fishing, camping and
snowmobiling in a rustic setting.
1) "Dye Factory For Roscoe Planned", The Middletown (New York) Times-Press, January 26, 1917
2) "Good Khaki Color Assured For Army", The New York Times, April 22, 1917
3) "Notes of the Trade", American Dyestuff Reporter, Vol. I, No. 7, November 19, 1917, p. 9
4) "American Dyestuff Manufacturers", American Dyestuff Reporter, Vol. 1, No. 16, January 21, 1918, p. 15
5) American Dyestuff Reporter, Vol. 2, No. 9, April 1, 1918, p. 3
6) "American Made Colors", American Dyestuff Reporter, Vol. 11, No. 12, December 4, 1922, pp. 412-413
7) "Dawes Plan", Galveston (Texas) Daily News, July 30, 1929
8) Williams Haynes, American Chemical Industry, Vol. III, p. 229 (New York: D. Van Nostrand, 1945)
9) Sue Hudson, "A Delaware County Primer", www.udrrhs.org/html/flyer-winter1999.htm
10) Frank Daniel Myers, III, The Wood Chemical Industry In the Delaware Valley, (Middletown, New York:
Ontario & Western Railway Historical Society, 1986)
11) "State Buys Treyz Tract", Oneonta (New York) Star, February 14, 1963
12) Karen Schneider, personal communication, September 2006
ColorantsHistory,Org thanks John and Sue Hudson for providing valuable historic information about the industries in the region.
We are grateful to Karen Schneider for contributing photographs and history associated with the Cooks Falls Dye Works.
Cooks Falls Dye Works Area
|Dr. Hans Bruning, Manager of Cooks Falls Dye Works, ca. 1917
Photo: Frank Daniel Myers III, The Wood Chemical Industry in
the Delaware Valley (Middletown, NY: Prior King Press, 1986)
|Cooks Falls Dye Works, ca. 1920. Photo: Frank Daniel Myers III,
The Wood Chemical Industry in the Delaware Valley
(Middletown, NY: Prior King Press, 1986)
|Postcard of Roscoe, New York 1907
Click to Enlarge
|Russell Brook Provided Water to Cooks
Falls Dye Works. Click to Enlarge.
|Luzerne Chemical Company Acid Plant and Employees
Horton, New York ca. 1910-Near Cooks Falls Dye Works
Source: Delaware County NY Genealogy and History Site
(www.dcnyhistory.org). Click to Enlarge.
|George I. Treyz Wood Chemicals Plant-ca.1910
Near Cooks Fall Dye Works
Source: Sue Hudson, "A Delaware County Primer"
|Cooks Falls Dye Works
Catskill Mountains, New York
|Cooks Falls Dye Works Stock Certificate
Issued to George I. Treyz in 1918
Image: Courtesy of Karen Schneider
Click to Enlarge
|Cooks Falls Dye Works Delivery Truck, 1950
Photo: Courtesy of Karen Schneider
|Cooks Falls Dye Works, After Closure, 1950.
Photos: Courtesy of Karen Schneider. Click to Enlarge
Left: Production Buildings. Right: Office
|Left: Rear View of Production Building Shows Rudimentary Shed and Trestle Support for Piping.
Right: Interior of Production Building
|Left Image: Arthur Hine, President of Cooks Falls Dye Works, Is at Right. Click to Enlarge.
Right Image: Original Letterhead of Cooks Falls Dye Works, 1918.
Images Courtesy of Karen Schenider.
|Official American Textile
Click to Enlarge
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