Its beginnings are traced to 1858, 22 years after the founding of Beloit, when Orson E. Merrill came to Beloit from Vermont and started a foundry at 637 Third Street. Within a year, he took in a partner, George Houston, and the firm became known as the Merrill & Houston Ironworks. Its principal product was a water wheel developed by George Houston, but the firm could also supply horseshoe nails, iron and steel castings, saws, augurs, spokes, and a variety of iron products. Ownership of the company changed several times in the next 20 years.
In July 1885, four employees of Merrill & Houston associated themselves to form a new corporation, and Beloit Iron Works was in business. On January 1, 1962, the name “Iron Works” no longer seemed to describe the company’s activities and further diversification was planned. The company officially became “Beloit Corporation.”