Thursday, August 4, 2011

Parryville and Bowmanstown from the New Turnpike Bridge

This is the span over the Lehigh in November of 2010.  From a person who works on bridges tells me this crane
was one of the largest he's ever seen.
The new Pennsylvania Turnpike bridges over the Parryville Dam and the Lehigh River are complete.  But it was the Route 248 and original turnpike construction that marginalized two communities that were once thriving industrial meccas: Bowmanstown and Parryville.  A hike to the top of the new cut out above the bridge now affords one a marvelous view of these important towns of the industrial revolution.

From about 300 feet above the project, Parryville, Route 248,  and
Lock #13 of the Lehigh Canal in the background.  Note the large
steeple-less building on the hill and compare it to the old pictures
of the Carbon Iron Works.

“Bowman’s Station” grew along Lock #15 of the Lehigh Canal (which was operational in 1829).  By 1855, Henry Bowman Junior had discovered a metallic red paint ore on “Stony Ridge and formed the “Carbon Metallic Paint Works.”   When the rock was burned, it produced a light ochre to dark brown substance which could be used as pigment and was also later used as an ingredient in fertilizer.  Bowman also started the “Poco-Metallic Paint Company.”
The former Prince Manufacturing is nestled in the center of this picture
taken from above the new Turnpike Bridge Project.  The Turnpike
Tunnels through the Blue Mountain are in the background.

In 1858, Robert Prince started the “Iron Ore Metallic Paint Company” at the Lehigh Gap.  They produced 4,000 tons of paint pigment annually by 1875.  In 1879 Prince went to work with Henry Bowman at Bowman’s Station to form the Prince Manufacturing Company.  By December of 1882, the post office was officially named “Prince Post Office,” a testament to this company’s early importance.  In 1885 it was changed to “Bowmanstown.”

Many and various ore mining operations existed along “Stony Lonesome Ridge, from East Penn Township to “Hazardville,” and along the Gap and out to “Millport,” which was later renamed “Aquashicola” due to another Pennsylvania town with the same name.

Carbon Iron Company pictures courtesy of the
Barry & Brad Haupt collection.
Parryville grew in large part to the Carbon Iron Company.  It was about 1855 when Dennis and Henry Bowman started the Poho Poco Iron Works in Parryville.  In 1858 they reorganized as the Carbon Iron Company and had direct rail and canal access.  There were three furnaces: two were 52 feet tall, the third was 65 feet.

At the height of their production, the company employed 150 men and made 600 tons of iron a week.  In May 1877 it was reorganized again as the Carbon Iron Manufacturing Company making pipe.  In the end it was known as the Carbon Iron and Steel Company.

Beams were transported under the McCall
Bridge and down the former Lehigh Valley
Railway right of way, past the current sewage
Historian Bill Allison composes a shot.
Bowmanstown's train station.
Parryville's train station

A walk of rediscovery into these once industrial, now secluded, towns can reveal some of the remaining historical buildings that were once cornerstones to our industrial past.

(SOURCE: Thomas D. Eckhart’s “History of Carbon County” Volume 1)

1 comment:

  1. I have been researching the early iron and metallic paint industries in the area. I started with the iron mines and furnace that were in what is now East Penn Twp. It is amazing to me that almost nothing exists today. Glad to see this picture. I've been to the area of the Parryville iron works and cannot find any trace.