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

200 Years of Water: The Manayunk Canal 1819-2019


Hosted by Manayunk Canal Bicentennial 2019 and Fairmount Water Works

Wednesday March 13 at 6 PM to 7:30

Venice Island Performing Arts & Recreation Center

Free and open to the public, no registration required.

To celebrate the Bicentennial of the Manayunk Canal, which opened in March 1819, Fairmount Water Works presents a free Speakers Forum about the past, present, and future of the canal. Come hear how the Canal was saved from expressways and parking lots in the 1970s. Many of the canal saviors will be in attendance!

Attendees receive a 12-page commemorative booklet “Fairmount and the Manayunk Canal 1819-2019: Two Hundred Years of Confluence”

7:45 PM – Informal celebrating, Happy Hour prices at Manayunk Brewing Company, 4120 Main St

Show your booklet to get the discount.

Venice Island Performing Arts & Recreation Center
7 Lock Street
Philadelphia, PA 19127

The link below provides information on parking and public transportation



Phoenixville station and tower overlooking the iron and steel complex ca. 1910

Phoenixville station and tower overlooking the iron and steel works.

The Schuylkill River Heritage Center
presents a talk by David Messer,
a celebrated author of many books about railroads

Thursday, March 14, 2019 at 7:30 PM
The Foundry at The Schuylkill River Heritage Center
2 N Main Street, Phoenixville, PA

Admission is Free and no registration is required.



A presentation at the National Museum of Industrial History, Bethlehem, PA
Sunday, February 24th at 2pm

Narrow Gauge railroads were an integral component of many integrated steel plants, useful for their ability to move heavy loads within the tight confines of steel mills. The Youngstown Steel Heritage Museum has undertaken a project to recreate a narrow gauge steel mill railroad including examples of the specialized rolling stock such as Open Hearth charging trains and Ingot Mold trains. The centerpiece of this new exhibit, named the J&L Narrow Gauge Railroad, is a 1937 H.K. Porter saddle tank steam locomotive which will return to operation in Youngstown this year. This presentation will discuss the creation of the J&L Narrow Gauge Railroad and the restoration of J&L (Jones & Laughlin) steam locomotive number 58.

The presentation will be given by Rick Rowlands. Rick Rowlands is the executive director of the Youngstown Steel Heritage Museum in Youngstown, Ohio. He has been involved in various aspects of steel industry history and preservation for over two decades including the preservation of blast furnaces and steam-driven rolling Mills.

This talk, part of the museum’s ongoing “How It Works” series that takes place on the fourth Sunday of every month, is designed to help patrons further understand of specific facets of industrial history. Admission for the “How It Works” tour is $5 in addition to regular museum admission.

Here is a link to information on visiting the museum.

From Stream to Sewer: A History of Philadelphia’s Landscape

A Presentation by Adam Levine

Wednesday, February 20, 2019
Wagner Free Institute

As we walk around the city of Philadelphia, few of us think about the hidden world of streams that once meandered across the city. Adam Levine will present a fascinating illustrated lecture that will uncover part of the city’s history that few people ever think about – the drastic changes made in the urban landscape since the city’s founding in 1682. Levine has been digging into the history of the city’s sewers and drainage systems since 1998. His talk will focus on the systematic obliteration of hundreds of miles of city streams—including Cohocksink Creek in the Wagner’s vicinity, Mill Creek in West Philadelphia, and Wingohocking Creek in Germantown. These streams, with watersheds that covered thousands of acres, were wiped off the city’s map, buried deep underground in pipes as large as 20 feet in diameter to serve as main drainage arteries in the city’s 3,000 mile sewer system. The combined flow of sewage and stormwater in these pipes, which periodically overflow, has environmental repercussions that are still being dealt with today—not only in Philadelphia, but in any older city with a similar sewer system. This lecture is guaranteed to reveal a side of urban infrastructure you have never seen, and change the way you think about cities in general.

Museum open until the talk begins at 6 p.m. Registration is free, but donations ($5 suggested) are welcomed at the door!

About Adam Levine:

Adam Levine, a historical consultant for the Philadelphia Water Department and webmaster of, is the expert on all things water (or sewer) related in Philadelphia. Levine has been digging into the history of the city’s sewers and drainage systems since 1998. He is also editor in chief of PHS Grow, the magazine of the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, and author of five books on gardening

Date And Time
Wed, February 20, 2019
6:00 PM – 7:30 PM EST

Wagner Free Institute of Science
1700 West Montgomery Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19121

Check this link to register for the free event and see some eye-opening photos. Below that is information on transport to the musum.

Diffusing Knowledge to Workers: The Heroic Mechanics’ Institute Movement

Joseph Priestley Society presentation

Thursday, January 10, 2019

11:30 a.m.–2:00 p.m.

A luncheon and program featuring Robert G. W. Anderson, president and CEO, Science History Institute.

Mechanics’ institutes were independent bodies established by workingmen, often with the support of philanthropists, beginning in the 1820s. They flourished in the British Isles, North America, and Australia, and provided evening classes to teach mathematics, mechanics, and chemistry. Usually the buildings included libraries and often museums. It was not until public education became freely available that the institutes declined.

The movement was a heroic effort in self-education. Typically, workers returned home from work at 7:00 p.m., when they changed into their best clothing and began two hours of study; they would have to be at work again at 6:00 a.m. the next day. In the heyday of these institutes thousands of them existed, broadening the horizons of many hundreds of thousands of workers in the sciences and engineering. Today they are all but forgotten, but when studied, they provide us with an inspiring understanding of our Victorian forebears.

About the Speaker

Robert Anderson is the current president and CEO of the Science History Institute. He studied chemistry at Oxford University, receiving a doctorate in inelastic neutron scattering. Later, he took an Oxford diploma in British archaeology.

Deciding to pursue a museum career, he became a curator in the history of science at the Royal Scottish Museum and then moved on to the Science Museum in London, where he became keeper (or head) of the chemistry department. Before long he was recalled to Scotland as director of the National Museums, merging the Museum of Antiquities and the Royal Scottish Museum to form a single entity. Then in 1992 he was appointed director of the British Museum, where he oversaw the building of the Great Court. After a decade there, Anderson stepped down as director to concentrate on research, first at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton University and later at Cambridge University.

Event Schedule

  • 11:30 a.m.
  • Networking Reception
  • 12:15 p.m.
  • Luncheon
  • 1:00 p.m.
  • Program

Tickets for the event are $25

Science History Institute

315 Chestnut Street

Philadelphia, PA 19106

United States

Link for further information and tickets: