Original Document
Original Document
"The Chapman Slate Company," 1881.

The Chapman Slate Company, Miners and Manufacturers of Roofing Slate, Flagging, Etc. Chapman Quarries, Northampton County

In visiting the many quarries that are located in the Valley, the writer was very greatly impressed with the extent and magnitude of the one controlled and worked by the Chapman Slate Company, at Chapmanville, Northampton County. In 1842 Mr. William Chapman, a Cornishman and practical slater, settled in Middle Nothampton, and after some years residing there become convinced that in the immediate vicinity there were extensive beds of slate rock, which led, in 1850, to opening what are known so widely now as Chapman Quarries. By dint of energy and native talent he gradually built upto its present magnitude the business which he now controls. The company was incorporated by a special Act of the Legislature in 1864 with a capital stock of $300,000–since increased to $400,000. The quarry is situated about twelve miles from Bethlehem. The grounds occupied by the company include fifty acres, the quarry itself being about 300 by 1,000 feet with an extreme depth of about 235 feet. The quarrying is done altogether by blasting and the necessary drilling by steam drills. The hoisting apparatus is, in fact, such as is ordinarily used–in part, however, of novel construction, the essential features in the latter instance being a five-ton cable, 900 feet long, on which there runs a carriage with pully and chain, along which slabs of slate weighing from four to six tons are drawn and loaded where wanted. Blocks of crude material are thus delivered at six different "landings," on the ragged edge of the chasm.

The machinery in use here at the quarry consists of six engines a combined power of 120 horse, eight boilers of 480 horse power, two steam drills, seven derricks, three diamond saws, two planers, one diamond drill, etc. There are employed one hundred and sixty hands, divided as follows: forty quarrymen, sixty slaters, twenty factorymen, and the balance engineers and common laborers, to whom are distributed $50,000 annually in wages.

The capacity of the quarry is 6,000 squares per month, a square in their phraseology meaning sufficient slate to cover ten square feet of roof. The slate is a superior quality, dark blue in color, absorbs no moisture, will not fade, discolor or decompose. Independent of the manufacture of roofing slate, which of itself is enormous, the company extensively manufacture it into slabs for a variety of slate goods, such as billiard, bagatelle table and counter tops, imposing stones, black boards, cisterns, lintels, window sills, copings, ridge poles, stairways, floor tiles and building stone for all purposes. For the manufacture of these articles, they have extensive works directly at the quarry, furnished with complete and ingenious machinery for their finishing in the most satisfactory manner.

The flagging manufactured from the material mined at the quarries is equal to any in the market in appearance and durability. For fence posts it is without doubt the cheapest and most durable of any material that can be used. The introduction of the most improved labor-saving machinery, specially designed for the purpose for which it is applied, enables the company to produce anything and everything in the way of slate-furnishings, at a minimum of cost.

The main office of the company is at the quarries, Chapmanville, Northampton county, and the New York office is at 503, 505 and 507 West street. The quarries are directly under the superintendence of Mr. Richard Chapman, residing there, while at the office, Mr. M. Z. Bahn, the courteous and efficient secretary, has charge of the business details. The head and prime factor in this extensive enterprise, is Mr. William Chapman, its founder, and now the president and treasurer. He was born in Cornwall, England, in 1816, and in 1842 emigrated to this country, after having practically mastered the slating business, and settled near the location of the present, quarry, where he remained until his extensive business interests required his removal to Bethlehem. Prompt, efficient and decisive in his character and operati6ns, liberal in dealing and obliging disposition, he is amply deserving of the prosperity that has attended his efforts, and: the esteem in which he is held wherever known.

Credit: Manufacturing and Mercantile Resources of the Lehigh Valley (Philadelphia: Industrial Publishing Company), 77.
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