Allegheny Portage Railroad

Join the Roebling Museum for a virtual lecture about the first place John A. Roebling tested his wire rope, the Allegheny Portage Railroad!

Thu, November 19, 2020
1:00 PM – 2:00 PM EST

Be virtually transported to another important Roebling historic site!

The Allegheny Portage Railroad was the first railroad to circumvent the Allegheny Mountains and used Roebling technology to do so. Join us to learn more about this remarkable historic treasure.

We will hear about the history and importance of this National Park site from Park Ranger Elizabeth Shope.

Follow this link to register.



From the collection at Hagley

Last month, we brought you a “lost” silent film found in the Cinecraft collection called “The Heart of Cleveland.” That film from 1925 pre-dated the founding of Cinecraft in 1937 so it wasn’t something the company produced. How it came to be part of Cinecraft’s collection isn’t known, but we do speculate in the article if you are interested.

Click here for more information about the Cinecraft collection at Hagley

This month, we are featuring the earliest print of a film produced by Cinecraft in the Hagley collection. The Romance of Iron and Steel, produced in 1938, sponsored by the American Rolling Mill Company (ARMCO) explains the science and process of making rolled steel. The film opens with an overview of the ARMCO Research Lab and then follows the manufacturing process through the company’s production facility. While never explicitly stated, we can assume that the film was shot on location at ARMCO in Middletown, Ohio. The film concludes with a message about “ARMCO men” and company culture with an address by ARMCO founder George M. Verity.

In addition to the print, we also have a copy of the film’s script showing edits made at some point during its development. Another interesting note, the original credits in the script attribute the film to Tri-State Productions. Cinecraft founder Ray Culley worked on a series of General Electric films for the Cleveland based Tri-State prior to founding Cinecraft in 1937. It’s possible the project originated at Tri-State and Culley inherited it when he started his own business.  While the mechanics of how the film came to be a Cinecraft production might never be known, what we do know is that this is an early example of Ray Culley’s skill as a filmmaker. 

In an article from the Cleveland Plain Dealer about The Romance of Iron and Steel in 1938, the paper’s movie critic W. Ward Marsh wrote 

“…for perfection in all departments (camera work, editing, narration, etc.) neither Hollywood with its too infrequent excursion into the documentary nor England with its boastful specializing in the documentary have produced anything to beat it…..So excellent is the technical work and so genuinely informative is the picture that I urgently recommend it be edited down to single reel length…and be issued to movie theaters.

Even while factoring in the writer’s hometown bias for a film produced in Cleveland, it’s hard to argue against the critics’ assessment of the film’s quality. It is well written, expertly paced, and, most importantly, informative. Even watching it over 80 years later, the film remains compelling.

Perhaps the most impressive technical feat of the film is a series of tracking shots taken from overhead cranes that offer a unique perspective into the process and machinery used to make rolled steel. It’s a creative technique that elevates the film’s production value beyond the film’s actual budget. Here is the longest of these tracking shots from the film:

To watch the entire film, check it out in the Culley Family Cinecraft Collection:


Other notes about The Romance of Iron and Steel

The film was narrated by Basil Ruysdael who started his career as an opera singer before becoming an actor. He served as the commercial spokesman for DuPont’s Cavalcade of America on NBC Radio beginning in 1940, which was among his many roles on radio.  He appeared as a detective in the first Marx Brothers film The Cocoanuts. His last role came as a voice actor for Disney’s One Hundred and One Dalmatians

George Verity, the ARMCO founder who appeared at the end of the film, started the company in 1899 and served as the company president until 1930. A retired steam towboat named after Verity is now a museum in Keokuk, Iowa:

The film’s name likely originates with the 1936-37 Great Lakes Exposition held in Cleveland. “The Romance of Iron and Steel” was one of the Expo’s themes. The massive fair on Lake Erie promoted business and industry in the area. 

To dive into the Cinecraft collection at Hagley, start here at our Digital Archives: digital.hagley/cinecraft

Cinecraft is still in business and specializes in eLearning and training & development projects for a national clientele and continues to develop various motion picture projects for business and non-profit clients. For more information, please visit ​

Kevin J. Martin is the Curator of Archives and the Andrew W. Mellon Curator of Audiovisual and Digital Collections at Hagley Museum and Library.

Roxborough’s River and Water: A History

thursday, october 15 @ 7pm (online)

A presentation by Adam Levine

For almost 100 years the Roxborough Pumping Station, just above the Flat Rock Dam, was a landmark on the Schuylkill River, pumping water into two reservoirs on high ground to serve the city’s northwestern section. In this illustrated talk, Adam Levine, historian for Philadelphia Water, reveals why the system was built, how it worked, why it was abandoned, and its ultimate dereliction and demolition in 2011. Adam Levine has been researching the history of the city’s water system since 1998, and this brand-new talk is not to be missed.

This event is cosponsored by the Alliance for Watershed Education (AWE), Philadelphia Water Department, the Upper Roxborough Civic Association, the Roxborough Manayunk Conservancy, the Friends of the Upper Roxborough Reservoir Preserve, and Residents of the Shawmont Valley.

Register Here

Introduction to the Railroads of the Civil War

A Civil War Round Table with Bernard Kempinski

August 26, 2020 6:00 pm

This is a zoom webinar hosted by the Legacy Foundation of the Union League

In the two decades before the start of the Civil War the railroads of the United States underwent a period of amazing growth and technological development. Nonetheless, railroads were still in their infancy. It was during the rebellion that railroads came of age. They became both strategic resources, as well as military targets, precisely because they were strategic resources. During the war, soldiers, material and food were routinely transported by rail along with civilians and the raw material necessary to keep the war effort progressing. While the modern viewer would recognize the civil war era railroad and its primary components, many differences, some obvious and some subtle, exist between then now. In this program, author and railroad historian Bernard Kempinski will try to explain how railroads were built, operated, contributed to the start of the war and affected its prosecution. A model railroader as well, Kempinski will also show examples of how he is modeling a civil war era railroad set in 1863 in Virginia.

Here is the link for registering for the event,

Below is a link on You tube for a previous talk. It was an excellent presentation by Charles Duff on his book “The North Atlantic Cities.” Much of it is a discussion of the development of the row house and its translation from Europe to America.

Probably the talk on Railroads will appear later on this You Tube list from the Legacy Foundation. Share it those who might miss the talk on the 26th.

Philadelphia’s Historic Cycling Culture

The Lower Merion Conservancy is hosting a virtual presentation by Oliver Evans chapter member Bob Thomas.

Thursday, June 25th
7:00 p.m.

The Conservancy is delighted to host Bob Thomas – architect, preservationist, greenway planner, and avid cyclist – for a lecture event about Philadelphia’s historic cycling culture. The lecture, which will touch on the growth of cycling in and around the city during the late nineteenth century, has heightened relevance due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a crisis that has moved many to take to their bikes.

The lecture will feature guest comments from local leaders in the cycling community of Greater Philadelphia about exciting upcoming developments.

The presentation will be accessed through the Zoom application. Registration is required for you to be sent the link to connect to the program. To register, click in the Conservancy’s newsletter linked below.

The newsletter also has two story maps that can be viewed. One is on historic neighborhoods along the Philadelphia and Western Railroad and the other is on the Mill Creek Valley and its industrial history.—Beyond–Coming-to-You-Virtually-.html?soid=1101546758623&aid=L9-osbIi2lY

National Museum of Industrial History

Here are the past presentations done at the museum that were recorded to view on line. The link below goes to the page where they may be viewed.

–How It Works: Blast Furnaces

–The Snow Corliss Engine at NMIH

–Chief Engineer – Washington Roebling – The Man Who Built the Brooklyn Bridge

–Building with Steel – Where Was It Made?

–Quakers, Guns and the British Industrial Revolution

–Iron vs. Steel

–Little Trains for Big Steel

–Geography, Geology and Genius
 This past February Martha Capwell Fox gave a talk to our annual dinner attendees on   this subject.

–Cork Wars: Intrigue and Industry in World War II

–Pittsburgh, Steel, and the 1918 Pandemic

–Inside the Demise of Martin Tower with NMIH Director of Marketing
and Public Relations Glenn Koehler

–Bethlehem Steel, Industry, and the 1918 Influenza Pandemic with James Higgins

–The President’s Pump with Mark Connar
Mark gave the OE Chapter a talk on the pump in October 2017. This talk adds information he has learned from further research on the site.

–Bethlehem Steel’s Last 20 Years, Building Bridges and Buildings

–From the Archives: Mining Photography of George Bretz


Steel City and the 1918 Pandemic

This program will be presented by the National Museum of Industrial History on its Facebook page. You do not have to create or have an account to watch this. Just click on the Facebook page below and look under Videos.

Steel City and the 1918 Pandemic
Today at 2PM!

During the 1918 influenza pandemic, Pittsburgh was the worst-hit city in the western world, not just America. The story comes down to the industrial history of the city and the way heavy industry affected the Steel City’s politics, health, and role during World War One. Jim Higgins joins us again as he recounts information he presented on Smithsonian Channel’s “America’s Hidden Stories.”

James Higgins earned his doctorate at Lehigh University. His work focuses on the history of American medicine, with an especial focus on influenza and typhoid. He has lectured in America and Europe, published numerous scholarly papers, and his first book, a brief history of medicine and disease in Pennsylvania will be published by Temple University Press in conjunction with the Pennsylvania Historical Association in late-2020.

Part of NMIH’s Virtual Museum Live Programs: stream live on Facebook at at 2PM today

Get the full list of virtual programming at

National museum of industrial history -Live Streaming features


Live lectures will be streamed via Facebook Live on the museum’s Facebook page

Thursday, March 26th at 2pm

The President’s Pump with Mark Connar
It is well known that Bethlehem is the home of the first municipal water pumping system in the United States. A replica of this machine is located in its’ original stone building in Historic Bethlehem’s Industrial Quarter. Much less known is that, little more than a century later, the largest steam driven single cylinder stationary water pumping engine in the Americas was erected only a few miles away at a zinc mine in the Upper Saucon Township village of Friedensville. This engine, renowned at the time as The President Engine, was designed and constructed by Cornish engineers using time tested old-world technical know-how coupled with American manufacturing talent. Although not publicly accessible, the remnants of this machine still exist today. This talk will focus on efforts underway to preserve the surviving engine house ruins and to convert the surrounding property into an open-air interpretative museum and heritage park.

Mark W. Connar is a retired businessman with an AB degree in anthropology from Brown University (1972) with post graduate study in archaeology at the University Museum, University of Pennsylvania. He has participated in archeological surveys in the United States and the United Kingdom. He also holds an MBA degree from Lehigh University (1984). He is on the Board of Trustees, Historic Bethlehem Partnership and is a Founding Member of the National Museum of Industrial History. Further, he is a member of the Mine History Association and the Society for Industrial Archeology.

Monday, March 30th at 10am
From the Archives: Mining Photography of George Bretz

Shari Stout from The Smithonian’s National Museum of American History will be presenting an online lecture featuring the historic mining photography of George Bretz. The National Museum of American History is home to an array of mining lamps, hats, and safety equipment, much of it from the anthracite mines of Pennsylvania. In 1884, the Smithsonian displayed a series of photographs taken inside a mine in Pennsylvania by George Bretz, a photographer from Pottsville, PA. Shari will show us some of these photos, talk about the history of these collections, some of the materials collected with them, and the original curator who initiated the photo shoot.

Shari Stout is a collections manager in the Offsite Storage Program at The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History in Washington, DC, and holds an M.A. in Museum Studies from George Washington University. She has worked at the Smithsonian since 1999, installing exhibitions and caring for a wide range of collections, including the mining collections. Ms. Stout works with everything from glassware to sculpture to locomotives, but specializes in planning and overseeing the movement of the museum’s largest objects. Ms. Stout played a key role in the installation of the Smithsonian collections for the 2016 opening of the National Museum of Industrial History.


Virtual Watch Party: Bethlehem Steel’s Last 20 Years – Building Bridges and Buildings
Saturday, March 28th at 2pm – streamed via Facebook Live on the museum’s Facebook page.
Join retired Bethlehem Steel Civil Engineer Gordon Baker as he talks about the history of Bethlehem Steel’s bridgemaking operations, which saw some of the world’s most famous structures come from its mills. From the Golden Gate to the Verrazano-Narrows Bridges, Bethlehem Steel helped build it all.  Four people from the audience will become part of a live suspension bridge and we will learn how a suspension bridge works.

Gordon Baker worked for twenty years at Bethlehem Steel’s Fabricated Steel Construction Division working on bridges and buildings. During this period, he was a Field Engineer in New York, worked in the Engineering department in Bethlehem, was Assistant Works Engineer in the Leetsdale Pittsburgh plant, and was Superintendent of the large Pittsburgh shop facility. His career included working on two suspension bridges in New York, the Commodore Barry Bridge, Martin Tower, the world’s largest radio telescope in Puerto Rico and numerous other structures. Gordon is a retired Licensed Professional Engineer and a graduate of Lehigh University’s civil engineering program.

Live lectures will be streamed via Facebook Live on the museum’s Facebook page


National Museum of Industrial History

MARCH 7 – 8, 2020


The National Museum of Industrial History will kick-off a month-long commemoration of the 100th Anniversary of Women’s Suffrage in March with International Women’s Weekend on March 7th and 8th. Women’s Weekend will celebrate the voices and stories of women in industry through a full schedule of youth educational activities, guided tours and exhibit enhancements, live historical reenactments, Girl Scout badge programs, film screenings and lectures.

602 E 2nd St
Bethlehem, PA 18015
Tickets are available at the admission desk inside the museum.
Children (6 and younger): Free
Youth (7 to 17): $9
Students: $9
Veterans/Educators/Seniors (65 and older): $11
Adults (18 to 64): $12