saylor cement kilns

Association for Preservation Technology Delaware Valley Chapter (APT-DVC)

and the Oliver Evans Chapter of the Society for Industrial Archeology




Please join APT-DVC and the Oliver Evans (Philadelphia) Chapter of the Society for Industrial Archeology on Saturday, June 9 for an expanded tour program as we explore the cement manufacturing industry in the Lehigh Valley. This tour will run from 11:00 am to approximately 4:00 pm and will include historic cement manufacturing sites such as the Coplay Cement Company vertical kilns; a museum dedicated to the Atlas Cement Company, the cement manufacturing giant of the 20th century; and an active cement manufacturing plant, LaFargeHolcim.

The Coplay Cement Company constructed 8 vertical-type brick kilns for the production of cement between 1893 and 1904. These kilns are among the last of the vertical-type kilns remaining in the US (and possibly the world), as the more efficient rotary-type kiln was developed soon after their construction. This tour will include an introduction to the history of the cement industry in the Lehigh Valley, the Coplay Cement Company, and the vertical kilns. A discussion of the kilns’ conditions, conservation issues, and attempts to stabilize and preserve the kilns will follow. Attendees will then take a hard hat tour of the kilns. Guides include Preston Hull of Building Conservation Associates, Inc., Brian Wentz of Keast & Hood, Erik Valentino of Masonry Preservation Services, and Vanessa Della Torre of Spillman Farmer Architects.

The Atlas Cement Company was one of the largest cement manufacturing companies of the 20th century. Started in the Lehigh Valley in 1889, Atlas manufactured cement out of their Northampton plant for such incredible structures such as the Panama Canal, the Empire State Building, and the Holland Tunnel. Atlas closed their doors in 1982 and soon after Ed Pany, whose father worked at Atlas his entire life (and who himself worked there during summers in the 1950s), created the Atlas Cement Company museum, collecting over 3,000 artifacts. This tour will be conducted by Ed Pany, where he will talk about the history of the Atlas Cement Company through the many artifacts he has collected.

LaFargeHolcim is the largest cement and building materials manufacturing company in the world, with plants in 80 countries. The company was started in 1883 in France and their Whitehall, PA plant has been in use since 1899, making Whitehall one of the oldest operating cement plants in the United States. This tour will include a brief lecture on plant safety and the manufacturing process followed by a tour of the plant to see all of the equipment that used to make the product, from quarry to shipping.

Safety Equipment

The tour includes a hardhat walkthrough of the Coplay site. Please bring your own hardhat. If you cannot provide a hardhat, please email Kevin Wohlgemuth (kwohlgemuth@bcausa.com) and APT-DVC may be able to provide one for your use. All Personal Protective Equipment for the tour of the LaFarge plant will be provided by LaFarge. All they ask is that you wear closed-toed shoes.


The tour will begin PROMPTLY at 11 am on Saturday, June 9 at the LaFarge Whitehall plant. It is about 1.5 hours north of Philadelphia at 5160 Main Street, Whitehall, PA 18052. Please arrange to carpool, as parking space will be limited. Please let Kevin know if you can volunteer to drive others. The registration fee for carpool drivers (at least 3 in a car) will be refunded as reimbursement for gas.



$20 for members of APT-DVC or SIA. A box lunch including sandwich (vegetarian options will be available), chips, cookie, and a bottled water, is included in registration. Please let Kevin know if you will not require a boxed lunch.

Free for carpool drivers (at least 3 in a car).

Limit 10 APT-DVC attendees and 10 SIA attendees. Please select the appropriate membership when registering so that we have an accurate head count.

Reference Material: