Here’s a brief history of the New York brickmaking industry from the New York Times. New York did not have a monopoly on bricks; excellent clay deposits run through New Jersey and into Pennsylvania as well. The Sayre & Fisher Brick Company, in the town now known as Sayreville, New Jersey, was for a time the largest brickmaker in the world and in 1903, Pennsylvania was the largest brick producer in the nation.
But the Hudson Valley was also lined with dozens of brickyards, and since it’s the Hudson Valley, it should be no surprise that now one of them, the Hutton Brickyards, has been turned into a boutique hotel that preserves some of its history. Their “Genuine Experiences” do sound genuinely fun:
Our sprawling campus features whimsical invitations to fun: an archery range, croquet lawn, firepits and bicycles. Experience hikes, guided kayak experiences, paddle-boarding, running, outdoor yoga, snow shoeing, cross country skiing, bee-keeping and more!
Featured image: Hutton Brickworks in 2016, by Corey Seamer via Flickr, CC BY-NC 2.0.
Here’s a few more details on the cranes at the Marine Terminal Park. According to the National Register of Historic Places nomination form, the cranes were originally 15 ton oil burning, steam powered locomotive gantry cranes built by McMyler Interstate Company of Cleveland, Ohio in 1917. Twenty-eight of them were purchased by the new Hog Island shipyard in 1917. There is an excellent summary of Hog Island by John Lawrence on the also-excellent Encyclopedia of Greater Philadelphia
The steam gantry cranes have a 15 ton capacity at 15 ft. radius, mounted on tracks, with holding and closing lines and clam shell buckets of 3/4 and 1 1/2 yard capacity. Provision is made for magnets at 35 ft. radius with portable electric power. In 1952 they were overhauled and the boilers replaced. They stand on four legs, and are approximately 40 ft. tall.
The first thing to realize is that the Hog Island cranes are no longer on Hog Island. When the United States entered World War I in 1917, a massive shipyard was set up alongside the Delaware River on Hog Island in Philadelphia to build transport and cargo ships, although none of the ships were completed before the war ended in 1918.
In 1930, Philadelphia bought Hog Island and transformed it into what is now the Philadelphia International Airport. Two of the cranes were sold and moved upriver to Trenton. At the Trenton Marine Terminal, they were used to load and unload ships for several decades before being taken out of service. Only the two gantries remain; the cranes that sat on top of them are gone. The Hog Island cranes were listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980.
In December, the city of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, hosts the Christkindlmarkt, a large outdoor craft fair. More interesting are the rusting structures at the former Bethlehem Steel Plant, where the market is located. After the company went bankrupt around the turn of the century, the factory complex was transformed, and is now home to a casino, the SteelStacks arts and culture center, a museum, and more.
These photos were taken from the Hoover-Mason Trestle, an elevated walkway that runs alongside the furnaces and other industrial buildings.
The New York State Museum has just released Iron in New York, edited by Martin Pickands, a collection of eight articles on the history, geology, and archaeology of the iron industry in New York, primarily in the Adirondacks and the Hudson Valley. The book is free to download at the NYSM.
The stone blast furnaces in a park just outside of downtown Scranton are an imposing reminder of this Pennsylvania city’s early industrial history. George and Selden Scranton had owned an iron furnace in northern New Jersey before moving to Pennsylvania. In 1840, they and their partners built an iron furnace in Slocum Hollow on the Roaring Brook. Their enterprise, later renamed the Lackawanna Iron and Steel Company, grew to become one of the largest producers of iron in the United States. At the turn of the twentieth century, however, the company moved its operations to New York. The mills and other buildings were demolished, leaving only the four blast furnaces behind.