The shovel works were founded by Oliver Ames, Sr., in 1803 when he purchased the property in North Easton and began the manufacture of shovels. In 1844 he gave his property to his sons Oakes and Oliver, reserving a life interest and one third of the profits. This was when the firm of Oliver Ames & Sons was formed. The business prospered for many years.
From the History of Easton, Mass., by W. L. Chaffin, 1886, p. 596:
"The view of the Shovel Shops here presented is perhaps as good a general view as can be taken. The point of view is the railroad track south of the bridge, under which runs the street. About five hundred employees work for the Corporation. They manufacture from 110,000 to 125,000 dozens of shovels a year. Taking the average of these figures, 117,500 dozens, it makes the almost incredible number of 1,410,000 shovels a year, or 27,115 a week, 4,519 a day, or over 451 each working hour."