Geography Geology, and Genius: How Coal and Canals Ignited the American Industrial Revolution


The Delaware and Lehigh National Heritage Corridor is proud to announce the release of Geography, Geology and Genius: How Coal and Canals Ignited the American Industrial Revolution. This is the first comprehensive telling of the little known story of how eastern Pennsylvania, from the anthracite coal fields to the tidal waters of the Delaware River, became the birthplace of the United States’ Industrial Revolution. The 246‐page book is illustrated with over 200 photos, maps, and historic drawings—including several rarely seen color images.   

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. Several industries were founded in what is now the D&L Corridor—iron, cement, and silk among them. In this way, the book captures the nationally significant history of the Corridor.  

“For more than 30 years, the public has heard snippets of the D&L’s amazing regional story that has national implications,” said Elissa Garofalo, Executive Director at the Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor. “Its high time the story is told and Geography, Geology and Genius tells it expertly.”

The narrative, decade by decade, describes the hardships, foresight, resolution, and engineering brilliance that led to the region’s national predominance in these and other industries.  In an epilogue, local economic development leaders Don Cunningham and Larry Newman describe the impact this industrial heritage still has on the lives of residents of the Corridor. 

“This is the comprehensive history of the industrial development of the Lehigh Valley that local historians and lovers of local history have been waiting for,” said Frank Whelan, Historian. “Well written and profusely illustrated, it takes the reader on a journey from the charcoal powered iron furnaces of the 18th century to the end of the glory days of Bethlehem Steel.”

Author Martha Capwell Fox and editor/book designer Ann Bartholomew have created an account of the people, places, and events that shaped the region’s past and present. Their sources included the archive collections and previous publications of the National Canal Museum and the Delaware &Lehigh National Heritage Corridor; they also received generous cooperation from many regional institutions, historical societies, and local experts.  

Geography, Geology, and Genius is available for $24.95 at the National Canal Museum’s shop, 2750 Hugh Moore Park Road, Easton, Pa, the National Museum of Industrial History, and at local museums and historical societies.  Publication of the book was supported by a grant from Furthermore: a program of the J.M. Kaplan Fund. 


Martha Capwell Fox grew up in Catasauqua, a daughter of the owner of the last operating silk mill in Allentown. She has had a lifelong interest in local and industrial history and is the archivist and historian for the D&L National Heritage Corridor.  

The author will be speaking on her research at the Oliver Evans Annual Dinner, Saturday, January 25, 2020, 6 pm, Manayunk Brewery & Restaurant, 4120 Main St., Philadelphia 19127. Books will be available for purchase.

Delaware Valley Shipyards and their Contribution during War

Over 2,400 ships, boats, and barges built by over 200,000 shipyard workers in 31 shipyards large and small.


The Ship That Saved Malta, Sun Ship Built SS Ohio, Chris Mayger 1973

A presentation by Dan Cashin, Rigger Instructor – Philadelphia Navy Yard and Philly (Aker) Shipyard

With the major ship information courtesy of Tim Colton at

Tuesday, December 10, 2019   7:30 PM

The painting depicts the struggle of the SS Ohio, the Sun Ship all-welded tanker, during “Operation Pedestal.” This convoy was tasked with resupplying the fortress island of Malta in August 1942. Our story is about the Ohio, and her many Delaware Valley sister ships, which struggled through the worst the enemy threw at her and succeeded.

Combat, first and foremost, requires heroics and steadfastness; it also requires tons of food, water, shelter, mail, weapons, ammo, fuel, medicine, and a myriad of mundane things needed to keep a human being operating in a distant, hostile environment. In the tri-state area 31 ship and boat yards, with over 200,000 workers, built over 2,400 ships, boats, and barges. 

Prominent builders were the Big Three shipyards of Chester’s Sun Ship, Camden’s New York Ship, and Philadelphia’s Navy Yard and providing no less support were Wilmington’s Dravo and Pusey & Jones, and Kensington’s Cramp. These 6 yards built 20 aircraft carriers, 4 battleships, 2 battle cruisers, 20 cruisers, 14 submarines, 294 tankers, 78 cargo ships, 39 destroyers and destroyer escorts, 6 hospital ships, 16 LSTs, 9 repair ships, 213 landing ships and craft plus hundreds of smaller vessels and landing craft.

In addition, there were over 20 smaller yacht, barge, and boat builders that provided the absolutely vital support vessels needed to get the supplies to their final destination. Nowhere was their contribution more vital than through the efforts of over 400 LCM(3)s built in Wilmington by Bethlehem Steel at the old Harlan & Hollingsworth yard. Any beachhead photo will have a picture of one of these  vessels on the beach disgorging men and machines.

Our story is also about the thousands of unskilled men and women who came to the yards and quickly learned their trades, patriotically coming to work each day in the heat, the cold, the dirt, and the danger to turn out the weapons arming the men and ships of the Navy. 

More information on shipyards at

The Historical Society of Frankford
1507 Orthodox Street
Philadelphia, PA 19124
Tuesday, December 10, 2019   7:30 PM
Parking is available in the lot across the street thanks to Frankford Friends


The Path of the First Railway

Sunday, Oct. 20 at 2:00 pm

Nether Providence Historical Society presents a talk by Pierre Lacombe, with maps and pictures.
Many historians say the horse-drawn railway that Thomas Leiper laid out in 1809 from Crum Creek to Ridley Creek, through today’s “Gov. Sproul Estates” was the first commercial railway in the United States.
Lacombe, New Jersey geologic historian, has mapped out a more precise line than was known before.  

Helen Kate Furness Library
100 North Providence Road  | Wallingford, PA 19086


Explore Philly’s hidden past


October 5, 2019
10:00 am to 3:00 pm

At the National Constitution Center
Discover the history beneath your feet
Hear archaeologists talk about the latest discoveries 

A Free Conference
Presented by
The Philadelphia Archaeological Forum 

See the schedule of talks at this link:

National Constitution Center
Kirby Auditorium, 2nd floor
525 Arch Street
Philadelphia, PA 19106

Directions and parking:

Check out the PAF website for more information on archaeological activities in Philadelphia and the Delaware Valley.

Rust Belt Takeover of Philadelphia


The Young Friends of the Preservation Alliance and the Rust Belt Coalition of Young Preservationists are excited to host the Rust Belt Takeover of Philadelphia from October 4th-6th. For full tour descriptions CLICK HERE. Consider this your opportunity to learn Philadelphia’s history beyond the Liberty Bell and the Revolutionary War.

Date And Time

Fri, Oct 4, 2019, 2:00 PM –Sun, Oct 6, 2019, 12:30 PM 

Click here to register for tours that are still open:

About the hosting organizations:
Founded in 2013, the Young Friends of the Preservation Alliance (YFPA) is a volunteer-run membership entity of the Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia (PAGP) guided by the next generation of preservation leaders. It seeks to engage, connect, and embolden the residents of Greater Philadelphia on issues surrounding historic preservation. Our work advocates for projects and movements that positively impact cultural heritage and celebrates a vast community dedicated to protecting the built environment and heritage throughout the region.
Formed in 2016, the Rust Belt Coalition of Young Preservationists (RBCoYP) unites the Rust Belt’s growing young preservationist movement. The mission of the Coalition is to create a common forum among groups within the region, mentor and support newly formed young preservationists groups, and use the power of our collective voices to effect change in the preservation movement.

How It Works: The Morris Canal

Morris Canal

National Museum of Industrial History  presents

June 30th 2:00 to 4:00

For June’s special How It Works tour Mike Helbing will lead a talk and tour about New Jersey’s Morris Canal. The waterway was built in the 1820s and 1830s, eventually connecting the Lehigh Valley to the New York Harbor. Anthracite coal, iron, and other goods shipped on the canal spurred industrial development.

The afternoon will start at NMIH where Mr. Helbing will present a “then and now” slideshow describing history of the canal and what its route looks like today, 95 years after it closed. Some stretches remain watered while others have been redeveloped into new uses as diverse as the Newark City Subway.  Helbing will detail how this engineering marvel took boats out of the water and raised them to higher levels of the canal using steep railroads known as inclined planes.

After the talk, around 3 PM, the group will carpool 30 minutes away to Plane 9 West in Stewartsville, New Jersey, just outside of Phillipsburg, to explore a fascinating remnants of the canal with guide Jim Lee. Wear your hiking shoes and a jacket because Mr. Lee will lead a special tour underground to see a subterranean chamber that still houses the circa 1850 hydraulic turbine that provided the muscle to pull boats up the inclined plane. Visitors can depart Plane 9 West at their own pace. Guests are welcome to return to NMIH, walk the canal, or talk with the guides and explore the site.  Admission is $5 in addition to regular museum admission.

Mike Helbing is founder of Metrotrails, a unique hiking group that often traces the path of industry, whether it be on canal towpaths, former railroad grades, or foot trails through mining and factory landscapes. The purpose of Metrotrails is to assist in the planning, development, maintenance, and promotion of trail systems in the New York/Philadelphia metropolitan area, as well as education and preservation of natural and historic aspects of their routes. Mr. Helbing is a lifetime hiker; beginning at the age of three. Since then, he has worn out a multitude of footwear hiking over the tri-state area. Most weekends, you’ll find Mike on a trail somewhere, leading groups of outdoor enthusiasts on 15 to 20 mile hikes. He is also involved in the Warren County Board of Recreation, and countless other trail organizations.

602 E 2nd St
Bethlehem, PA 18015


115-ton Corliss steam engine comes alive


National Museum Of Industrial History

May 31st – June 2nd

For over a decade NMIH has been working on a big project, and it’s finally ready to debut. Join us May 31st through June 2nd as we reveal our operational Corliss steam engine, meticulously restored by a dedicated group of volunteers, local companies, and NMIH staff.

Throughout the weekend we’ll be hosting special talks, demonstrations of the engine running, steam whistle blows, and more.  It’s a momentous occasion you won’t want to miss. Patrons will be able to see the engine at work and hear from museum experts and guest lecturers during special programming throughout the weekend which is generously sponsored by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) and York Water Company.

602 E 2nd St
Bethlehem, PA 18015
Phone: (610) 694-6644 x108

Here is the link for the Museum and it’s activities this weekend:

Corliss Steam Engine Debut Weekend