Hamilton has been an important activity center in Butler County since its founding in 1791, as its proximity to the Great Miami River made it an ideal county seat and agricultural hub. Beginning in 1845, the Hamilton Hydraulic Company diverted the river's flow through town and developed a system that supplied cheap waterpower to area mills. By 1900, Hamilton was "the greatest manufacturing city of its size in the world," and by the 1940s it was home to several of the world's largest industries. Champion Paper milled coated paper, Niles Tool Works manufactured machine tools, Hooven-Owens-Rentschler built Corliss engines, Estate Stove made stoves, and Mosler and Herring-Hall-Marvin Safe Companies earned Hamilton its reputation as the "Safe Capital of the World." More than 150 factories and shops developed diverse product lists in the early 1900s, but only three of these businesses still operate in Hamilton today.