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Iron Works History

In 1839 the Lehigh Coal and Navigation Co purchased this plot of land from the Bierys, a German family who owned the only bridge over the Lehigh in the vicinity and an inn on its eastern shore. The company hired Welsh ironmaster David Thomas to build an iron furnace at Lock 36 of the Lehigh Canal, fueled by anthracite coal and using the innovative hot blast. Thomas’ furnace, put into blast on July 4, 1840, was the first commercially successful application of this combination of technologies in North America. Its success triggered the American Industrial Revolution by making it possible to produce large quantities of high quality iron in a short time. Pig iron from the Crane Iron Works was used to make rails, rods, wire, and large castings for boilers, furnaces, and other uses. The Crane Iron Works continued in operation until shortly after World War I.

In 1928, the Fuller Company purchased the Crane site from Replogle Steel Company, which had taken over the Empire Steel and Iron Company. Fuller Company manufactured equipment for the cement industry; their chief product, the revolutionary Fuller-Kinyon pump, is still in use today. By the 1950s, the company was the largest manufacturer of equipment for the cement industry in the world. The Fuller Company was purchased by F. L. Smidth of Denmark in 1990, and by the early 2000s, the site no longer was used for industrial purposes. The borough of Catasauqua purchased the site from F. L. Schmidt in 2013.