I would like to take a few moments and present an important discovery in American Industrial Archaeology. Myself, along with members of the local Society for Pennsylvania Archaeology Mon-Yough Chapter #3 have located and begun excavation on the Snowdon Vulcan Iron and Machine Works located right here in Brownsville, Pennsylvania. As you read on, you will notice reference to the nation's first cast iron bridge, a symbol which will become the cornerstone to Brownsville's redevelopment in the 21st-century.
|1886 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map showing the Foundry|
|Aerial Photograph with Foundry Overlay|
"Within its walls and distributed over the use of two rooms, with nice regard to their convenient use, is gathered a large amount of machinery, of the latest improvements, adapted to all the requirements of machine manufacturing; among them are 19 turning lathes, 6 planning machines, 4 boring machines and 8 drill presses. There upon the lower floor, 10 blacksmith fires, with all of their accompanying cranes, steam forge hammers, and etc.
The foundry and finishing shops were constructed of brick and connected with the main building. This area contained cranes and two large 12-ton capacity cupolas for delivering molten iron. The foundry was in the forefront of the rolling mill and the forge was contained in another one story building. Within this structure were six pairs of rolls, two puddling furnaces, two heating furnaces, one spike and one rivet machine that turned out 600 tons of bar iron a year (Thurston 1859). A pattern shop used for cutting different shapes of metal adjoined the foundry."
The Vulcan Iron and Machine Works, later called Snowden & Sons, employed 110 people with a weekly wage of $6.83 per person (Thurston 1859). This factory produced a similar number of land use stationary steam engines such as those used to power the large belts of the machine shop. The convenient location of the factory next to the
wharf allowed engines to be fitted to hulls while incoming boats unloaded goods. In 1863 the Vulcan Iron and Machine Works built the engines and boilers of the ironclads Manayunk and Umpqua.
John Herbertson arrived
Brownsville in 1829 after learning the trade of steam
engine building in Pittsburgh. Originally from ,
Herbertson became a foreman in the Vulcan Glasgow, Scotland
Iron and Machine Works engine shop. When the wooden bridge
collapsed over Dunlap’s Creek connecting Brownsville to
Bridgeport, Snowden took the contract for the erection of a cast
iron bridge (Ellis 1882; Kussart 1930; Thurston 1859). This is the
first cast iron bridge in the United States. Herbertson designed the
bridge and supervised its construction (Gresham and Wiley 1889).
|A teaser image from some preliminary testing.|
Herbertson eventually went into a partnership with Thomas Faull who was already operating a small foundry in
Together they formed the Fayette Foundry, until 1842 when Faull withdrew
from the partnership (Ellis 1882).
Herbertson later created Herbertson & Company with his sons in the
1880s as the business grew.
There will be more to follow as this project moves forward. Stay tuned!
Text taken from:
2004 THE STEAMBOAT INDUSTRY IN BROWNSVILLE, PENNSYLVANIA: AN ETHNOHISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE ON THE ECONOMIC CHANGE IN THE MONONGAHELA VALLEY.
1882 History of Fayette County, Pennsylvania with Biographical Sketches of Many of its Pioneers and Prominent Men.
Gresham, John and Samuel T. Wiley
1889 Biographical and Portrait Cyclopedia of Fayette County, Pennsylvania. John M. Gresham, Maging Editor.
Kussart, Sarepta Cooper
1930 Navigation on the Monongahela River. Unpublished Manuscript.
Thurston, Geo. H.
1859 The Rivers and Valleys of Pennsylvania Then and Now.
Great article, I agree with pretty much everything you had to say. Nice to get the truth out there, Thanks!ReplyDelete