Stories from PA History
Story Details
A Diversity of Industries
The heartland of many of the nation's heavy industries, Pennsylvania was also home to a remarkable diversity of industrial production that ranged from glass, slate, and Portland cement, to shipbuilding and milk chocolate.

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Bring this subject into focus through the following chapters. These stories take exploration of the main story further by providing more detail for you to learn and explore.

Overview: A Diversity of Industries
Chapter 1: From Craft to Industry
Chapter 2: Natural and Human Resources
Chapter 3: Inventors and Entrepreneurs

Historical Markers In the Story
marker icon Allentown [Mack Truck] (Lehigh) marker icon America's First Lager (Philadelphia)
marker icon American Viscose Company (Delaware) marker icon Baron Stiegel (Lancaster)
marker icon Benjamin Franklin [New Nation] (Philadelphia) marker icon Birth of Cable Television (Schuylkill)
marker icon Boatbuilding Center/Steamboat Enterprise (Fayette) marker icon Charles Martin Hall (Allegheny)
marker icon Colonial Gristmill [Industries] (Delaware) marker icon Conestoga Wagon (Lancaster)
marker icon Dery Silk Mill (Lehigh) marker icon Dravo Corporation (Allegheny)
marker icon First Cement (Lehigh) marker icon Fred Morgan Kirby (1861-1940) (Luzerne)
marker icon Henry J. Heinz [Industries] (Allegheny) marker icon Hershey: Milton S. Hershey (Dauphin)
marker icon Jeremiah Sweinhart and Successors (Berks) marker icon John Wanamaker [Industries] (Philadelphia)
marker icon Pennsylvania Rifle [Industries] (Lancaster) marker icon Peter Herdic (1824-1888) (Lycoming)
marker icon Pittsburgh Plate Glass Ford City Works (Armstrong) marker icon Rittenhouse Town (Philadelphia)
marker icon Rural Electrification, Crawford County (Crawford) marker icon Samuel Wetherill (Northampton)
marker icon Slate Industry (Northampton) marker icon Tioga County [Tioga's tanneries] (Tioga)
marker icon Unity House (Pike) marker icon W. Atlee Burpee [Industries] (Bucks)
marker icon Westinghouse Electric Corporation [Industries] (Allegheny) marker icon Williamsport (Lycoming)

Lesson Plans for this Story
Take your students back in history with these discussions and activities for the classroom

Story Bibliography

Original Documents
icon full text Benjamin Franklin, "RULES Proper to be Observed in TRADE," February 20, 1750.
icon full text Benjamin Franklin Advertises for Conestoga Wagons For Service in the French and Indian War, 1755
icon full text Tench Coxe, On the manufactures and commerce of Pennsylvania, 1794.
icon full text Oliver Evans, The Young Millwright & Miller's Guide, Part 5, 1795.
icon full text Oliver Evans,  A Description of a Merchant Flour Mill..., 1795.
icon full text An Account of the Philadelphia Lager Beer Industry, 1859.
icon full text The Industrial Resources of Pennsylvania, 1878.
icon full text History of the Coplay Cement Company, Allentown, PA, 1881.
icon full text History of the C. F. Martin and Company, Manufacturers of Guitars, Nazareth, PA, 1881.
icon full text "Mosser and Keck, Tanners of Union Sole Leather, East Allentown," 1881.
icon full text "The Chapman Slate Company," 1881.
icon full text "GEORGE WESTINGHOUSE, JR. How He Has Been Rewarded for His Ingenuity," 1887.
icon full text "George Westinghouse...THE GENIUS OF THE AGE," 1904.
icon full text U. S. Department of Labor, "Wages of Candy Workers in 1919," 1919.
icon full text Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, “Philadelphia, Past Achievements, Present Greatness, and Future Possibilities,” 1924.
icon full text John Walson, On the Birth of Cable Television in Mahanoy City, PA, (Interview Date: Tuesday July 21, 1970)

1690 William Rittenhouse built the first paper mill in the American colonies in Philadelphia.
1755 General Braddock and young George Washington employed a supply train of Lancaster County Conestoga Wagons on unsuccessful campaign to capture Fort Duquesne (Pittsburgh).
1764 "Baron" Stiegel established a glassworks near Mannheim, Lancaster County, that made high quality glass objects.
1785 Oliver Evans invented an automated grist mill that soon replaced many simpler ones that required considerable manual labor to process wheat or corn into flour or meal, respectively.
1815 Henry Shreve made first up river steamboat journey from New Orleans to his home near Pittsburgh.
1815 Andrew Jackson's soldiers, many armed with highly-accurate Pennsylvania rifles, decisively defeated British army at Battle of New Orleans.
1840 John Wagner brought yeast used to make German lager beer to Philadelphia and began to make what would become America's favorite brewed beverage.
1848 Robert M. Jones arrived from Wales to develop what would become a thriving slate industry in Lehigh Valley.
1853 Samuel Wetherill founded Lehigh Zinc Company to make zinc oxide and metal in Bethlehem.
1854 Lumber baron Peter Herdic built mansion in Millionaires Row in lumbering center of Williamsport.
1869 Henry J. Heinz started his processed food business in Pittsburgh by selling horseradish in glass jars.
1871 David O. Saylor began production of Portland cement near Allentown initiating a Cement boom in the region.
1872 Jeremiah Sweinhart joined growing wooden vehicle industry by opening a factory in Boyertown. The company survived for over one hundred years as a specialty vehicle manufacturer.
1876 John Wanamaker opened the first department store in Philadelphia.
1877 W. Atlee Burpee began to sell vegetable seeds by mail order from Doylestown, Bucks County
1880 Paterson, New Jersey, silk manufacturers began to move their factories westward into northeastern Pennsylvania and the Lehigh Valley.
1883 John Baptiste Ford and John Pitcairn founded the Pittsburgh Plate Glass Company to make large plates of glass for store windows.
1886 George Westinghouse incorporated the Westinghouse Electric Company in Pittsburgh to develop alternating current systems.
1887 Inventor Charles Martin Hall formed the Pittsburgh Reduction Company, precursor to the Aluminum Company of America.
1900 Pennsylvania is number one leather producing State with 25% of national production.
1905 Milton S. Hershey opened large chocolate factory in what would become the company town of Hershey, Dauphin County.
1911 The British textile firm Courtaulds began American production of the new fiber rayon at Marcus Hook, north of Philadelphia.
1912 Fred Kirby merged his ninety-six 5 and 10 cent stores, headquartered in Wilkes Barre, with the much larger Woolworth chain.
1917 Mack trucks, made in Allentown,given the nickname "bulldog" by British soldiers.
1919 Unity House established in Pocono Mountains as a retreat for textile workers belonging to the International Ladies Garment Workers Union.
1935 Morris L. Cooke headed the new Rural Electrification Administration, a New Deal agency that helped farmers form cooperatives to bring electricity to the countryside.
1937 Labor organizers at Hershey plant lead sit-down strike in factory that ends when a mob forcibly evicted the strikers.
1944 Pittsburgh-based Dravo Corporation supplied large numbers of landing craft for D-Day invasion.
1948 John Walson became a pioneer in cable television by installing a system in Mahanoy City, Schuylkill County.
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