More than just trains…homage to “workshop of the world”

Save the Date

The Oliver Evans Chapter presents

More than just trains…homage to “workshop of the world”
A virtual presentation by Ron Hoess, OE Chapter Member
Tuesday, January 11, 2022  6:30pm

The Zoom link for the program will be sent at a date closer to the time of the presentation

View from 19th and Cambria Stifftown Branch

Over the last 7 years I have been constructing what is referred to as a prototype train layout, meaning a layout that represents a very specific time and place. The layout is set in North Philadelphia circa 1958 and depicts approximately 3 miles of the Pennsylvania Railroad starting just south of North Philadelphia Station and encompassing the first two miles of the Chestnut Hill Branch. In order to accurately portray the area all the structures on the layout are scratchbuilt so they actually look like the buildings that were there. This work is based on research using Sanborn maps and photographs from the city archives or aerial photographs taken in the 1930s. The history of each of these buildings not only reflects the broad spectrum of Philadelphia industries but also what was happening in the post WWII transition period. Sadly nearly half of the buildings depicted on the layout no longer exist or are abandoned. Nevertheless the layout serves as an act of preservation, albeit in miniature, of a great industrial city.

Harrison Safety Boiler works 17th St.

The Industrial and Neighborhood History around Matthias Baldwin Park, Philadelphia, Zoom Link

The Oliver Evans Chapter presents
“The Industrial and Neighborhood History around Matthias Baldwin Park”

A talk by Joe Walsh, vice president of the Friends of Matthias Baldwin Park
 Tuesday, December 14, 2021 6:30- 8:30

Matthias Baldwin Park is a two-acre Philadelphia city park at 423 North 19th Street. Formerly the area was filled with machine shops, foundries, coal yards, and locomotive factories, headed by industrialists such as Matthias Baldwin, William Sellers, Asa Whitney, William Bement, and Oliver Evans The talk will focus on two former industries. In addition, the Baldwin Park neighborhood will be presented as an example of the sequence of events that changed this and many Philadelphia neighborhoods from Lenape homeland to colonial estate to “workshop of the world” to a deindustrialized target of redevelopment and finally to an area of glass high-rises.

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 881 0252 7894
Passcode: 757007

The Industrial and Neighborhood History around Matthias Baldwin Park, Philadelphia

Industrious Light: Baldwin Locomotive Works
The new mural by Phillip Adams for the Mural Arts program.
Note turtle; flowering plants; locomotive; and factory shop with wheels, hoist, and rivets on steel support columns.

The Oliver Evans Chapter presents
“The Industrial and Neighborhood History around Matthias Baldwin Park”
A talk by Joe Walsh, vice president of the Friends of Matthias Baldwin Park

 Tuesday, December 14, 2021 6:30 – 8:30

Matthias Baldwin Park is a two-acre Philadelphia city park at 423 North 19th Street. The Friends post a monthly hyperlocal history article about sites within two blocks of the park at, under the History tab. There are over fifty articles so far, many dealing with industrialists such as Matthias Baldwin, William Sellers, Asa Whitney, William Bement, and even Oliver Evans. There are minimal remnants of these former machine shops, foundries, coal yards, and locomotive factories, but Joe will mention two in his talk. In addition, he will use the Baldwin Park neighborhood as an example of the sequence of events that changed this and many Philadelphia neighborhoods from Lenape homeland; to colonial estate; to “workshop of the world;” to a deindustrialized target of redevelopment; and finally to glass high-rises.

Joe is retired from the medical field and has spent 16 years in Philadelphia. He lives in the Baldwin Park neighborhood and has long been interested in all things related to coal, iron, and machine makers — basically the 19th century history of his neighborhood. He is on the board of the Friends of Matthias Baldwin Park and serves as webmaster for the group’s website at, and wrote many of the monthly history articles on the site. He is constantly impressed at how a few neighbors can adopt a wee bit of Philadelphia and make it the centerpiece of a real community.

Below is a link to an article by Joe with detailed information on the elements depicted in the mural including the Baldwin locomotive.

Save the Date 

This presentation will be on Zoom and a link will be posted closer to the time of the event.


Philadelphia Railroads

An Oliver Evans Chapter Program
presented by Joel Spivak

Wednesday, June 2, 2021
7:00 – 8:30

book cover01

Philadelphia, “the workshop of the world,” produced locomotives, railcars, interiors, wheels, and tracks. Some of the earliest railroads in the country operated in Philadelphia and left a legacy of treasures around the city.

Take a virtual tour and hear about Joel’s love of the railroad and how he developed a lifelong interest in the subject.

The book, “Philadelphia Railroads,” by Allen Myers and Joel Spivak, is a tribute to Oliver Evans, the inventor of the American “High Pressure Steam Engine.”

Chapter member Joel Spivak is a native of Philadelphia and has had a varied career in architecture and the arts. His community service is legendary, and has benefited neighborhoods all over the city. Projects he was involved in include creating the South Street Renaissance and defeating the Crosstown Expressway in the 1970s, the opening of Rocketships & Accessories space toy store in the ’80s, and winning the “Outstanding Achievement in Design for Affordable Housing” HUD award in the 1990s. He created and managed a Little League baseball team at Sack’s Playground at 5th & Washington in the early ’90s, and has created events for National Hot Dog Month for the past 10 years. In addition, he has written three books on transportation history in Philadelphia. He was awarded “Citizen of the First Rank” by City Council for his lifetime commitment to his neighborhood and the city of Philadelphia.

The program will be presented through a Zoom meeting. 

Pre-registration is required to receive the link to the Zoom meeting.

To register, please send an email indicating your interest to the Chapter address:

Edward Francis Grusheski

Ed Grusheski, president of the Oliver Evans chapter since 1996, died December 23, 2020.  Ed contributed to so many programs and institutions in the city yet he always had time for our Oliver Evans Chapter. He led the chapter with grace and spirit despite several major health setbacks in recent years. He was a gallant, brave gentleman. We will be diminished without benefit of his caring,  generous heart.
There is no information yet on memorial services in his name. Family and friends are making arrangements and will share that information with us. Here is an obituary they have provided. 

Edward Francis Grusheski

On December 23, 2020, Edward Francis Grusheski of Philadelphia, passed away at the age of 74. Ed was born in Boston, the son of Marian Grusheski. Ed graduated from Boston Latin School, Georgetown University and earned a master’s degree in American Civilization at the University of Pennsylvania. He also was stationed in Asia while serving in the US Army as a voice intercept operator.

Ed’s most proud accomplishment was leading the development of the historic Fairmount Water Works into the region’s premier urban environmental education destination, dedicated to fostering shared stewardship of our shared water resources. Ed continued his relationship with the Fairmount Water Works through the rest of his life when he became a consultant, educator, and speaker, giving voice to environmental issues.

Ed exuded enormous optimism and enthusiasm throughout life as a constant learner, world traveler and art collector. He was active in and a contributor to countless programs and institutions in Philadelphia including serving on the boards of the Global Water Alliance, the Fund for the Water Works, and as the president of the local chapter of the Society for Industrial Archeology.

He leaves behind many loved cousins and cherished friends. Ed was a joyful and generous gentleman who enjoyed a life well lived.

In lieu of flowers donations may be made in honor of Ed to either:
Old Saint Joseph’s
321 Willings Alley
Philadelphia, PA 19106
Fairmount Water Works Interpretive Center
640 Waterworks Dr.
Philadelphia, PA 19130

Another obituary was written by his associates at the Global Water Alliance where Ed was a Founding Board Member.

Ed is now under the care of Cremation Society of Pennsylvania, Inc. at King of Prussia. The Society web page has a link to share a memory of Ed.

Finally, here is a link to an article by Ed on his beloved Fairmount Waterworks written in 2004 and posted on Watershapes, a website on our water environment and its structures.

Tour of American Hats LLC


While there were many hat manufactories in Philadelphia in the 19th and 20th centuries, one of the lone survivors into the 21st century was the S & S Hat Company. At the time it was founded in 1923, it was housed in a factory on Filbert Street between 10th and 11th Streets. It supplied department stores and small boutiques, and had a well-regarded reputation. Cheaper competition from overseas and other problems led to its decline, and it was slated to be sold in 2015. The Reverend Georgiette Morgan-Thomas, a pastor who was a director at a social services non-profit in Harlem, had no experience in manufacturing hats, but she wore them and loved them. She purchased the S & S Hat Company and incorporated it as American Hats LLC in January 2016.

About twelve people now work for the factory, and the entire process can be viewed by visitors- from selection of fabric and materials to sewing, blocking, trimming, and finishing, all done by hand by the artisans, many of them retained from the S & S days.

 Links: American Hats website:  Article in the Philadelphia Inquirer:

Date: Friday, March 20, 2020
Time: 10:30 AM
Location: 2251 Fraley St. in Wissinoming, right beside I-95, at intersection of Fraley & James Streets.
Registration: E-mail names of members and guests to Helen Schenck at:
DEADLINE: March 18th
Questions: Call Helen Schenck at 609-386-4180
Transportation: By auto: Use GPS for directions. Park in factory lot or on street. Regional Rail: SEPTA Trenton line to Bridesburg station. From station walk east ½ mile on James Street to factory.
#84 Bus from Frankford Transportation Center to the corner of Tacony & Fraley Sts. which is the other side of I-95 from the factory.

Registration for Chapter 35th Annual Dinner

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Geography, Geology and Genius: How Coal & Canals Ignited the American Industrial Revolution, an illustrated presentation on her new book by author Martha Capwell Fox, Archives & Museum Coordinator, National Canal Museum, Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor, Easton, PA
Martha Capwell Fox is in charge of maintaining the Museum’s collection of photographs, artifacts, books, films and videos, and historic documents which preserve the history of anthracite mining and the canals which carried the coal to market as well as the industries which sprang up as a result. This presentation is based upon the book of the same name written by Ms. Capwell Fox and recently released. Geography, Geology and Genius focuses on how the unique blend of natural features and mineral assets were used by several extraordinary men to create new forms of industrial activity, dependent on anthracite coal.  Books will be available at the program or online at

DATE & TIME: Saturday, January 25, 2020
6 PM – cash bar  7 PM – dinner 8 PM – presentation
PLACE: Manayunk Brewery & Restaurant, 4120 Main St., Philadelphia 19127
(between Shurs Lane and Lock St.; enter on Lock St.)
We are in the Jazz Room on the first floor

MENU: Field Green Salad, Choice of Entree, Vegetable, Roasted Red Bliss Potatoes, Hot Apple Cobbler, Coffee, Tea, Soft Drinks
1) Chicken Marsala – Sautéed chicken breast in marsala demi-glace
2) Harry’s Grilled Salmon, topped with Bing cherry demi glaze
3) Mediterranean Pasta – Fresh tomatoes, red onions, spinach, fresh herbs and wild mushrooms tossed with penne pasta and hearty tomato sauce
4) Flat iron steak – marinated & grilled to medium temperature

COST: $40.00 per person, DEADLINE: JAN. 18th
Send check with entree selection by January 18th payable to OE/SIA
MAIL TO: Helen Schenck, Treasurer, 169 West Federal St., Burlington, NJ 08016
include your name, the names of your guests, your phone number and your email address with your check
AUTOMOBILE: Public parking behind restaurant in public lot across the Canal. Easy access to restaurant by rear deck next to Canal locks
TRAIN: SEPTA #R6 to Manayunk then 5 block walk
BUS: SEPTA #61 from the Wissahickon Transfer Station to Main Street


30th Annual Wright Stuff Film Fest

Lukens Steel

Lukens Steel Co., Coatesville, Pa. Card postmarked August 1947.


30th Annual Wright Stuff Film Fest
presented by
Martha Capwell Fox, Archives & Museum Coordinator, National Canal Museum, Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor, Easton, PA 

Martha Capwell Fox is in charge of maintaining the Museum’s collection of photographs, artifacts, books, films and videos, and historic documents which preserve the history of anthracite mining and the canals which carried the coal to market as well as the industries which sprang up as a result. She creats and installs exhibits for the Museum’s changing exhibit gallery. In addition, Martha works as a docent and interpreter in the Museum, the Locktender’s House and aboard the Josiah White II, the only mule-drawn canal boat ride in Pennsylvania and does many presentations for historical societies and education programs.

This presentation will include a 1950 Lukens Steel view of The World’s Largest Plate Mill, a showing of Rolling on Rail from Steelton, a short Bethlehem Steel showing, a 1995 viewing from US Steel’s Fairless Mill, a National History Day finalist Jigs Do the Work Much Better about the impact of mechanization on the anthracite breaker boys and a very short showing on the Wanamie Mine steam engine.

Date: Monday, December 9, 2019
Time: 5:30 Refreshments 6:15 Program
Cost: $10 per person if pre-registered     $15 for walk-ins
Place: Fairmount Water Works Interpretive Center. You should be able to park on the Circle, close to the FWWIC.
Reservations: Contact Helen Schenck, Treasurer at: or 856-313-8301

American Keg Company Tour


Monday, November 4, 2019

American Keg Company is a stainless steel keg manufacturer located in Pottstown, Pennsylvania, USA.  Our American craftsmen manufacture the highest quality 1/2 bbl (15.5 US gallons or 165 12-oz. pours) and 1/6 bbl kegs (5.16 U.S. gallons or 55 12-oz. pours), with pride, for the American Craft Brewer, Cider Maker, and Vintner from domestically sourced 304 stainless steel.

American Keg has been crafting 1/2 bbl and 1/6 bbl kegs since early 2015 when the company operated under the Geemacher name and will continue to be the ONLY steel beer keg manufacturer in the United States of America. Our ultimate goal is to be THE sole source for stainless steel beer kegs in the USA with the finest customer service and the highest quality keg available in the world.

American Keg Company
31 Robinson Street, Pottstown, PA

Arrive no later than 11:15 a.m., the tour begins PROMPTLY at 11:30 a.m.  We can not wait for latecomers because the factory is on a schedule which we must adhere to.

Cost: $20.00/person

The tour is restricted to 7 participants.  To make a reservation please email  To secure your space on the tour once your reservation is confirmed, send a check payable to OESIA for $20.00 to Reese Davis, Treasurer, 19 East Washington Street, West Chester, PA 19380.   DO NOT SEND A CHECK TO REESE UNTIL YOU RECEIVE AN EMAIL CONFIRMATION THAT YOU HAVE A SPACE ON THE TOUR

While on the tour these rules must be observed:
Park in the main parking lot at 31 Robinson Street, Pottstown, PA
No sandals or open shoes.
Bring safety glasses if you have them, American Keg will provide if not.
Bags and pocketbooks should remain in the cars.
Photos are allowed

 Following the tour your are invited to have lunch with the group in the tasting room at The Sly Fox Brewing Company, (331 Circle of Progress Drive, Pottstown, PA 19464, where we can watch beer being made.  Each person will pay for their own lunch.

The Art Deco Interiors of the 1928 Swedish-America Liner MS Kungsholm


Swedish American Line’s KUNGSHOLM sailing from New York, assisted by Moran tugs, Braun Brothers Collection, SSHSA Archives.

presented by Maritime Historian CHRISTIAN RODEN

An event hosted by
Society for Industrial Archeology – Oliver Evans Chapter
together with
Delaware Valley Chapter of Steamship Historical Society of America
Independence Seaport Museum

 Christian Roden was a Fulbright scholar who spent a year doing research at the French Line archives in LeHavre, France focusing on the Art Deco interiors of the 1927 liner, Ile De France. He is currently on the library staff of the University of Pennsylvania and has presented programs for the Port of New York Chapter of the World Ship Society.

Date: Sunday, October 20, 2019
Time: 2 PM Program followed by a Reception
Cost: Donations requested
Place: Independence Seaport Museum
211 South Christopher Columbus Blvd., Philadelphia, PA 19106
Parking: Next to Museum at Walnut St. & Columbus Blvd.
Registration & Information: Steve Loveless at 215-495-8889 or

Deadline: October 14