Coplay Cement Company Vertical Kilns . Lehigh County . Plein Air . Watercolor . 12" x 16"
... Channel 69 WFMZ-TV found me at the historic Coplay Cement Kilns as I was painting the remnants on site...
... these 9 towering remnants are all that remain of the factory and vertical kilns that were in use, by the Coplay Cement Company, from 1893 to 1904, before they quickly became obsolete in a rapidly expanding and innovative construction industry. This cement plant was built by David O. Saylor, who refined the manufacturing process and opened the first Portland Cement Plant in 1871 at Coplay... and were a major improvement over bottle and dome kiln technology. But, by 1904, they were shut down due to the extraordinary efficiencies provided by Fredrik L. Smidth's newly developed rotary kiln. In 1902, Thomas A. Edison and Jose Francisco de Navarro founded the Universal Atlas Portland Cement Company in Northampton, PA... eventually winning the Panama Canal contract. East Central Pennsylvania is considered the birthplace of Portland Cement in the America's... competition was fierce and in short order, there were enough cement plants in operation, throughout the Lehigh Valley to supply 75% of all the cement needs for the entire United States. These vertical kilns, originally 90-feet tall and a modification on the German Schoefer model... were enclosed within a roofed structure; exposing only the now missing, extended, stack tops. The surrounding buildings were eventually demolished in the 1920's. The kilns stand within the current bounds of the Saylor Park Industrial Museum and were added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1980. One of the kilns was structurally stabilized in 2016, as the rest continue to deteriorate and crumble. The museum is permanently closed; although the surrounding grounds, adjacent to the Ironton Rail Trail, are open.
Painted plein air... mid-March, 2019. Learn more... Ever Since the Fire Went Out: