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1813 1815

Philadelphia Timeline, 1814

1814

  • Anthracite coal introduced in Philadelphia. In "History of the Falls of Schuylkill," Chas. V. Hagner describes the introduction of anthracite coal as follows: "White & Hazard were using in their rolling mill, bituminous coal. They knew of the large body of anthracite at the head of the Schuylkill, and early commenced making experiments with it. They had some brought down in wagons, at an expense of one dollar per bushel- twenty-eight dollars per ton-expended a considerable sum of money in experimenting but could not succeed in making it burn. The hands working in the mill got heartily sick and tired of it, and it was about being abandoned. But, on a certain occasion, after they had been trying for a long time to make it burn without success, they became exasperated, threw large quantity of the 'black stones' as they called them, into the furnace, shut the doors, and left the mill. It so happened that one of them had left his jacket in the mill, and in going there for it some time afterwards he discovered a tremendous fire in the furnace, doors red with heat. He immediately called all hands and they ran through the rolls three separate heats of iron with that one fire. Here was an important discovery, and it was the first practically successful use of our anthracite coal, now so common. The important discovery was the simple fact that all that was wanted to ignite it was time, and to be 'let alone'. All this may appear strange now, but the men employed in that mill — and everyone else who used the bituminous coal — were accustomed to see it blaze up the moment they threw it on the fire, and because the anthracite would not do so they could not understand it, and the more they scratched and poked at it — an operation necessary with the bituminous coal — the worse it was with the anthracite. Upon making this discovery, Josiah White immediately began to make experiments in contriving various kinds of grates to make the anthracite applicable for domestic use, in which he finally succeeded to admiration" This coal was sent down from the Lehigh; it cost delivered in Philadelphia about fourteen dollars a ton.

< 1813 1815 >

Excerpted from "Happenings in ye Olde Philadelphia 1680-1900" by Rudolph J. Walther, 1925, Walther Printing House, Philadelphia, PA

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