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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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 America's First Lager (Philadelphia) marker icon Baron Stiegel (Lancaster)
marker icon Benjamin Franklin [New Nation] (Philadelphia) marker icon Colonial Gristmill [Industries] (Delaware)
marker icon Conestoga Wagon (Lancaster) marker icon Pennsylvania Rifle [Industries] (Lancaster)
marker icon Rittenhouse Town (Philadelphia) marker icon Tioga County [Tioga's tanneries] (Tioga)
marker icon Williamsport (Lycoming)

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Story Bibliography

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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