Timeline of Slatington History

1890: The Slatington Rolling Mill Starts Operations and Slatington High School Graduates Its First Class


14 May 1890
The first commencement of the Slatington High School was held on Thursday evening in Armory Hall. There was considerable interest manifested by our citizens and the Hall was well filled.


1 October 1890
On Saturday the first iron was made at the Slatington Rolling Mill. On Monday several other furnaces were started and there are now five furnaces in full operation. The iron is taken out as soon as it leaves the rolls in a perfect shape it is allowed to cool when it is loaded on the cars and shipped away to fill orders on hand. Large crowds are present every evening to see the novel sights.

5 November 1890
Less than a year ago it was rumored that William P. Hopkins and others were contemplating the erection of a Rolling Mill,, and that Slatington would likely be selected the site. Very few of our citizens had any faith that these rumors would develop into facts and even after ground was broken for the foundation some of our people remarked might result in the erection of a brick yard or some such trifling enterprise. In spite of the discouragement shown by a goodly portion of our citizens, what was a year ago a marshy, undesirable tract of ground lying in the southeastern part of our borough, is now the site of the neatest, best equipped and best built Rolling mill in the state.

In making mention of the discouragement shown by some of our citizens we must however not fail to give credit to others who with their money and time have given encouragement to the enterprise, and who were instrumental in raising $30,000 in stock subscriptions towards erection of the plant.

Ground was broken in the latter part of last April and in the remarkable short time of five months it had five of its nine furnaces ready and in full operation. The machinery for making refined iron not being ready and only muck bars or puddle iron was made until last Monday, when everything being completed, the manufacture of merchant iron in all shapes and sizes was commenced.

A visit to this new place of interest, before the sign goes up “No admittance,” is open to all and should be taken advantage of by our citizens.

A brief description of the process of making iron may be of interest to our readers. We first approach the puddling furnaces of which there are eight in this mill. We notice piles of pig-iron close to these furnaces; about 500 to 600 lbs of this crude iron is taken and thrown in the already heated furnace, the door is shut and the full draft given the furnace; hotter and hotter the iron becomes and at length it dissolves and commences to seethe and boil in its fluid state, The workmen, called puddlers, stripped to the waist, open the little circular door of the furnace and with long iron rods and hooks begin to knead the melted mass as though it were wax. After it has been stirred sufficiently it is worked on balls of about 100 pounds each, which are wheeled, one after another, on an iron buggy to a huge iron machine called the squeezer. As the fiery ball enters this ponderous machine it comes in contact with cold water and frequently sharp explosions occur. Only a minute is required and the ball has made its round through the squeezer and drops out lengthened to a cylindrical shape. It is now grasped by a huge pair of tongs suspended by chains and pulleys and swung around and placed between the rollers nearby. It is sent back and forth between these powerful rollers, each time through a different groove, flattening it out to the desired shape, when it is pulled on a bed to cool. This iron is now called the Muck Bar and is again cut up in different lengths, according to shapes and sizes of finished iron to be made, heated over again and run back and forth between rollers, turned or grooved to all shapes and sizes. This iron is now ready for the market, and it is only justice to the management of our Rolling Mill to add that a ready market is already waiting for every pound of iron the mill can turn out.

Mr. Wm. P. Hopkins, the general manager of the mill, has an established reputation on the manufacture of iron and under his management the production of the Slatington Rolling Mill will be second to none in the country.
Our citizens should feel proud of this new industry in our midst, and should not hesitate to give it the encouragement it so highly deserves.

Source: The Slatington News, 14 May, 1 October, 5 November 1890.