Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 38.djvu/157

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THE

POPULAR SCIENCE

MONTHLY.



DECEMBER, 1890.




THE DEVELOPMENT OF AMERICAN INDUSTRIES SINCE COLUMBUS.

I. EARLY STEPS IN IRON-MAKING.

By WILLIAM F. DURFEE, Engineer.

TO all familiar with the iron and steel industries of this country it will be manifest that the story of their technological development can not possibly be told exhaustively in a magazine article, whose length is scarcely sufficient for an adequate description of a single one of the larger mechanisms employed in working iron or steel at the present time. Therefore, all that will be attempted in these papers is such a description of the beginning, growth, and present state of the technology of these vulcanian industries as will enable non-professional readers to obtain an intelligent idea of the more important improvements in machinery and methods that have contributed to a progress which, by successive steps, albeit oftentimes short, slow, and uncertain, has brought these industries safely through the manifold perils of three hundred years to their present wonderful expansion.[1] All authorities agree in the opinion that iron was unknown to the aboriginal inhabitants of America. Tools, weapons, ornaments, and culinary vessels made of copper were occasionally found in their possession, but nothing of iron.

  1. In the preparation of these papers I am indebted to James M. Swank, Vice-President and General Manager of the American Iron and Steel Association, for the opportunity to consult the library of the Association; and for extracts from his very valuable contribution, Iron in all Ages, to the history of the manufacture of iron and steel. I am also under obligation to E. C. Potter, Second Vice-President of the Illinois Steel Company, for engravings and photographs of parts of the very extensive works of that company. John Thomas, Superintendent of the Thomas Iron Company, Hokendauqua, Pennsylvania, has kindly furnished me with some interesting facts relative to the first anthracite blast-furnace; and from J.