Coplay Made Cement: Cement Made Coplay

Coplay Made Cement: Cement Made Coplay (HM1LTO)

Location: Coplay, PA 18037 Lehigh County
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Country: United States of America
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N 40° 40.589', W 75° 29.777'

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Saylor Cement Museum

— 1894-1904 —

In 1900, the scene before you was a smelly, dirty, noisy inferno. Trains roared in, carrying coal from the nearby northern anthracite fields and local cement rock, a form of limestone. Day and night smoke and dust belched from the towering kilns. Originally these kilns, taller than they are today, were enclosed in a huge building. Only their tops emerged from an industrial plant that produced vast quantities of cement supplying the demands of a growing nation.
The inventive genius behind the industry was David Saylor (1827-1884). In 1871 Saylor received the first American patent for high-quality Portland cement. By 1894 Saylor's Coplay Cement Company built these kilns. During the plant's heyday, workers loaded endless numbers of bricks made from ground cement rock into the doors at the tops of the kilns. On the second level down, laborers shoveled in coal as fuel. Kiln temperatures above 2000 degrees Fahrenheit transferred the cement rock into chunks of clinker. Carts of clinker clattered into the growing mill to be ground into cement.
By 1900, the Lehigh Valley produced ¾ of all Portland cement used in this country. Despite long hours, hard labor, and clinging cement dust, Eastern European immigrants and local residents flocked to work in local cement mills. Ethnic social clubs and churches helped groups create their own communities.
The great size of the kilns could not save them from becoming swiftly obsolete. Across the Lehigh River to Northampton, the Atlas Cement Company built America's first rotary kiln, an invention that saved both money and labor. In 1904, the fires these Coplay kilns went out forever. Their ruins survive today because of cooperative efforts among local government, community members, and preservation organizations.
"I saw a great dust flying out of the mills and the men who carried the ground cement away in bags, to load the wagons were covered with dust."

(Inscription below the image in the upper right) Blockhouses, a brick factory, grinding mills and other long-gone factory structures live on in this photograph of the cement plant taken about 1900. Today only the kilns remain.
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Tuesday, July 14th, 2015 at 6:01pm PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)18T E 458058 N 4502963
Decimal Degrees40.67648333, -75.49628333
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 40° 40.589', W 75° 29.777'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds40° 40' 35.34" N, 75° 29' 46.62" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)610, 484
Closest Postal AddressAt or near Ironton Rail-Trail, Coplay PA 18037, US
Alternative Maps Google Maps, MapQuest, Bing Maps, Yahoo Maps, MSR Maps, OpenCycleMap, MyTopo Maps, OpenStreetMap

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