Original Document
Original Document
H. S. Osborn, On the Early Use of Anthracite in the Blast Furnace, 1869


...The following incidents in the history of the earliest attempts to introduce anthracite into the blast furnace we received from David Thomas, Esq., of Catasauqua, PA, and they will be interesting in this place. Mr. Thomas had tried charges of anthracite one-half, one-twelfth, etc., to one of coke, with no good result, at Yniscedyn, Wales (Ynis, Island, pronounced Inniskedwin). In 1817 there was in that region but one furnace. It was in the spring of 1826 that the experiment with anthracite was tried. The furnace was built in an anthracite region, but other coal was brought by water from fourteen miles distance. In September, 1836, he received a pamphlet from Neilson. Mr. Thomas was in the habit of supping with
Mr. Crane, the proprietor of the works. One night while talking "coal and iron," he took up the bellows and blew upon the anthracite in the grate, near to which they were both sitting. "Now," said Mr. Thomas, "if we had Neilson's hot blast, what would prevent the use of anthracite, which is found all about us?" The next morning Mr. Crane asked Mr. Thomas if he had thought of the suggestion of the previous night. Mr. T's reply was that he had "scarcely slept for the thinking." Mr. Crane asserted that he also had been sleepless under the excitement of the same thoughts. It was then suggested that Mr. Thomas should go up to Glasgow immediately and see Neilson. Mr. Thomas went, and at the Clyde works obtained the castings, had them shipped, and after some little delay, the hot blast was in operation and succeeded at the first to perfection. The bosh of this furnace was eleven feet, height thirty-five feet, pressure about four pounds.

This was the first successful application of anthracite to smelting iron in the world. Mr. Crane was not a practical iron manufacturer, but brought up in the hardware iron business. Mr. David Thomas, now living in a hale of old age at Catasauqua, Pa., was the man to whom all credit is to be given.

Credit: H. S. Osborn, The Metallurgy of Iron and Steel: Theoretical and Practical... (Philadelphia: Henry Carey Baird, 1869), 198.
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