Lock Ridge Iron Company

Perhaps the primary credit for the establishment of the anthracite iron industry in the Lehigh Valley must be attributed to the founders of the Lehigh Coal & Navigation Company, Josiah White and Erskine Hazard. For it was through their efforts to promote their own economic self-interest, i.e. to expand the market for their coal and traffic for their canal, that the first commercially successful anthracite furnace in the country was built on the banks of the Lehigh River in the Lehigh valley.

It was not until after the completion of the Catasauqua and Fogelsville Railroad that construction of a blast furnace at Lock Ridge became an economic feasibility. While the plants location was convenient to the magnetitie deposits at Rittenhouse Gap and the limorite deposits throughout Lower Macungie Township, the railroad was essential for the transportation of anthracite coal to the furnace. Exactly why a 'greenfield' site such as Lock Ridge was chosen for construction of a new blast furnace plant is not at all clear. Most earlier anthracite furnaces were strung out along the Lehigh River which provided a plentiful source of water and were located near at least a small population center. Lock Ridge had neither of these, the Swabia Creek is but a small mountain stream as it passes by the furnace site and there were only a few farms nearby when the plant was constructed. These deficiencies were easily overcome, however, by damming the creek and providing water storage capacity and by building company housing. It is probably safe to assume that the site was in fact chosen because of its proximity to local ores and to the intersection of the two railroads which could transport the pig iron to market as well as haul raw materials to the furnace.

Continued      





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