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

Continuing a Legacy – Photographing the Pennsylvania Railroad

A presentation by Michael Froio, Photographer

Cambria Iron Works

Cambria Iron Works

Pennsylvania Railroad Technical & Historical Society
Philadelphia Chapter Meeting

February 15, 2020 

10:30am – Doors open for vendor sales
11:00am – Modelers Meeting
11:30am – Dining Car Opens (food for purchase)…
1:00pm – Chapter Business Meeting
1:30pm – Feature Presentation

Drexel Hill United Methodist Church
600 Burmont Rd, Drexel Hill, PA 19026

Meeting Venue Directions
Complete details available at

The Hidden City: Archaeology of Philadelphia

Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia
Monday,  March 30, 2020  6:00 to 8:00

Archaeologists Douglas Mooney and Jed Levin take us on a trip down Alice’s rabbit hole – digging underneath parking lots, highways, National Park sites, and demolished buildings, they uncover Philadelphia’s hidden past through the fragments of everyday life left by our predecessors. This talk will give an overview of the methods and challenges of urban archaeology and highlight recent findings from sites around the city.

$20 | General Admission

$15 | Alliance Member – sign in first (button in upper right) to automatically receive discount

$10 | College Student*

Free | High School Student*

*Email photo of valid student ID to Caroline Slama to receive student discount code.

at the National Park Service Theater
Independence Visitor Center
599 Market St, Philadelphia, PA 19106

More programs and information at the following link:

Workshop of the World

Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia
Wednesday, March 18, 2020  6:00 to 8:00 pm

Domenic Vitiello, Associate Professor of Urban Studies and City & Regional Planning at the University of Pennsylvania, charts the origins, dynamics, and decline of Philadelphia’s position as one of the world’s leading centers of industry. This talk will trace the networks of manufacturing firms, civic institutions, and individuals who planned and organized the city and region’s industrialization from the late 17th through 20th century. We will visit many of the diverse sectors and neighborhoods that made up what people called the “Manchester of America” and “Workshop of the World.” And we will explore the causes and consequences of deindustrialization in the 20th century. 

$20 | General Admission

$15 | Alliance Member – sign in first (button in upper right) to automatically receive discount

$10 | College Student*

Free | High School Student*

*Email photo of valid student ID to Caroline Slama to receive student discount code.

at the National Park Service Theater
Independence Visitor Center
599 Market St, Philadelphia, PA 19106

More programs and information at the following link:



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.