Alburtis in Lehigh County, Pennsylvania — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
Lock Ridge Furnace
From charcoal to “stone coal”
During the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, the Lehigh Valley, with its wealth of trees for charcoal fuel and substantial sources of ore, attracted many enterprising iron facilities to settle in the region. Even in the Lehigh Valley, however, wood supplies soon began to dwindle, and the search for new fuel sources began in earnest. In 1822, Josiah White and Erskine Hazard formed the Lehigh Coal and Navigation Company to build a canal that could carry boatloads of anthracite coal—a fuel that burned hotter and more efficiently than charcoal. They hired Welshman David Thomas to design a new type of furnace that could burn the exceedingly hard “stone coal.” The use of anthracite coal as fuel led to a new age in iron making and the rise of new iron works across the Lehigh Valley.
In 1868, just after the Civil War, the well-established Thomas Iron Company expanded to the town of Alburtis, where railroad connections, plentiful water, and access to ore created favorable conditions for iron production. The new Lock Ridge Furnace had two large furnaces that were capable of annually producing 15,000 tons of iron for tools, steam engines, guns, and other finished goods.
From iron to steel
For 40 years, the company thrived, despite
“Changes must be made or we are doomed.”
Benjamin F. Fackenthal, President of Lock Ridge Furnace (1912).
When it closed in 1921, Lock Ridge was reportedly the last operating anthracite iron furnace in the United States.
(Inscription under the image in the lower center)
A weigh lock on the Lehigh Canal.
(Inscription under the image in the upper right)
Lock Ridge Furnace as it appeared in the 1870s.
(Collection of the Lehigh County Historical Society)
Erected by William B. Butz Memorial Fund.
Location. 40° 30.534′ N, 75° 35.658′ W. Marker is in Alburtis, Pennsylvania, in Lehigh County. Marker is on Church Street. Touch for map. The marker is on the grounds of the Lock Ridge Furnace Museum-Lehigh County Parks. Marker is in this post office area: Alburtis PA 18011, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within From Production to Preservation (within shouting distance of this marker); Servicing the Furnace (within shouting distance of this marker); Casting Pigs (within shouting distance of this marker); Lock Ridge Iron Furnace (approx. 0.2 miles away); The Velodrome Story (approx. 2.8 miles away); Hereford Furnace (approx. 4.7 miles away); Jasper Park Indian (approx. 5 miles away); Indian Jasper Quarries (approx. 5.1 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Alburtis.
Categories. • Industry & Commerce •
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on July 9, 2015, by Don Morfe of Baltimore, Maryland. This page has been viewed 194 times since then and 13 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. submitted on July 9, 2015, by Don Morfe of Baltimore, Maryland. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.