Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Snowdon Vulcan Iron and Machine Works: Day 5

Hello Everyone,

       Sorry for such a late post, things have been, as always busy. Today was no exception. I missed half a day of fieldwork due to some aggravating personal matters. And I locked my camera in the field equipment shed, so no pictures tonight. I was visited today by Scott Beveridge, who works for the Washington, Pa Observer Reporter newspaper. You can follow his blog on my blog list. We are trying to get as much coverage on the Snowdon and Sons Vulcan Iron and Machine Works as we can, after all, it is the foundry that patterned and casted the parts of this nation's first cast iron bridge.
      Yesterday we began finding the remains of a knob and tube electrical wiring system. I knew the foundry had not been electrified during its operation as the Brownsville Electric Company didn't start running until the late 1890's and the mill was out of work for several years before. I decided to return to the documentary evidence, and examine the Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps once again. Here is what I found:
      If you'll notice in the area circled in RED in the second image, the pattern shop was converted into tenement apartments! (Even in the 19th century they understood to adaptively reuse day we'll learn) Anyhow, the first image is from 1891 the second is from 1901. If you examine the 3rd image closely, there is a power/telegraph pole in the far left corner. The conversion of the shop to apartments would explain the blue painted plaster we are finding, the bones from livestock, and the broken whiskey bottle. Perhaps these aren't evidence of workers, but of tenants?    
1891 Sanborn Insurance Map

1901 Sanborn Insurance Map
Photo courtesy of Donna Jordan

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  1. Wow. that could be a major shift in your interpretations.

  2. Terry, you have no idea! But I guess that's the beauty of it!


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