Philadelphia's Pencoyd Iron Works: Forging Along the Schuylkill River
Kevin Righter’s book, Philadelphia's Pencoyd Iron Works: Forging Along the Schuylkill River began as a family history project. Righter’s great grandfather, Walter Righter worked at Pencoyd from 1885 through 1933, retiring as superintendent of motive power. When Righter began research for this project, he realized that little had been written on Pencoyd Iron Works, which operated in the Manayunk section of Philadelphia for nearly a century, so he sought to fill that gap. This interview covers that family history and interweaves it with the history of steelmaking in the United States, from Pencoyd’s opening in 1852, through coming under control of US Steel to its closure following the end of WWII. Pencoyd’s steel was most famously used in the construction of bridges and the first elevated railways in the United States, but many architects in the late nineteenth century incorporated Pencoyd steel into their structures, including Philadlephia’s Frank Furness. Many bridges and structures containing Pencoyd manufactured steel still exist around the world today in places as far apart as Japan, Sudan, Mexico, Taiwan, Kenya, and throughout the United States.
Kevin Righter works in planetary sciences in Houston, Texas. He has a lifelong interest in genealogy and Philadelphia’s industrial history.
The audio only version of this program is available on our podcast.