The Pencil Lives!


Who knew it took so many different materials, machines and processes to produce the pencil?. This article vividly captures the process in words and pictures, depicting people and production at General Pencil Company in Jersey City.


Lumber Yard on East Girard


OSCAR BEISERT has a piece on the HIdden City website on the loss of industrial character of Northern Liberties by the proposed redevelopment of the JT Lumber yard. The article also discusses a number of 19th century lumber businesses and their interconnections.

I thank OE member Marc Zaharchuk for bringing the changes at the yard location to my attention.

For more information on the industrial establishments in Northern Liberties see the chapter in Workshop of the World featured here on this website.

Originally written in the 1990s by Dave Orr and Roy Goodman, it was updated by Torben Jenk in 2007. He briefly mentions the lumber yard.

World’s Weirdest and Most Amazing Bridges

By Stephanie Valera
November 01 2016 05:45 PM EDT

Bridges are some of the world’s most magnificent marvels of engineering, connecting cities and even countries. But bridges have also featured some of the most innovative design. According to a Transportation Research Board Special Report on the Potential Impacts of Climate Change on U.S. Transportation, many bridges are often designed to withstand storms that have a probability of occurring only once or twice every 100 years. And then there are some bridges—the ones that  curl, tilt or even shoot water—that are simply cool. Click through the slideshow to see the world’s most unusual (and amazing) bridges.


John Grass Wood-turning shop comes to sad end


Christopher Storb in his blog, In Proportion to the Trouble, has provided a final look at this location that was researched by chapter members Jane Mork Gibson and John Bowie. Their partial report is linked in Storb’s page as Historical Background by Jane Mork Gibson. It shows the amount of research professional historians and architects do to document a site.

Storb’s links also record a number of individuals and organizations that promoted the preservation of the shop as a continuing source of study and education.

Behind-the-Scenes Tour of the Water Works!


In a few weeks, you can enjoy a sneak peek of parts of the Fairmount Water Works not typically open to the public.
Eye-level with the Schuylkill River, walk the same underground paths as a royal family and Olympic swimmers during a behind-the-scenes look at one of Philadelphia’s first tourist destinations.
This is a hard-hat tour, and may not be accessible for all of our visitors. Sturdy closed-toe shoes are strongly recommended.
Registration required. Space is limited, so register today!RESERVE YOUR SEAT

Thu, October 26, 2017
4:00 PM – 6:00 PM EDT

Fairmount Water Works

640 Waterworks Drive

Philadelphia, PA 19130

View Map


Steam engine restoration


Sunday, July 16th at 3:30pm

Two giant stationary steam engines, one in Bethlehem, PA, and another half an hour away in Phillipsburg, NJ, are now in the process of being restored to operation. Come along with the crew members on Sunday, July 16th, at 3:30 PM for the second of several tours where visitors can get an up close look at these machines to learn what is being done to make them run again.

The tour will begin at the National Museum of Industrial History inBethlehem, PA, where the former York Water Company horizontal steam powered water pumping engine is in the final stages of restoration. The 103 year old machine is 35 feet long, weighs 115 tons, and pumped 8 million gallons of water a day. The challenges of relocating and now refurbishing this mechanical marvel will be detailed.

The tour will then carpool to the historic pump house cared for by the Friends of the NJ Transportation Heritage Center in Phillipsburg, NJ, to see Big Allis, the 1913 steam powered water pump. Rated for 6 million gallons of water a day, this three cylinder, two flywheel, vertical engine stands 51 feet tall and is surrounded by a complete steam plant with the original boilers, condenser, and backup turbine.

Tickets are $22 and can be purchased in person upon arrival at NMIH in Bethlehem. The proceeds will be split equally between the two restoration projects.