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By Kevin Righter
Established on the Schuylkill River in 1852, Philadelphia’s Pencoyd Iron Works was a global leader in structural steel and wrought iron for more than eight decades. Innovative American bridge designers Squire Whipple, John Murphy, C. Conrad Schneider, Paul Wolfel and John Waddell established lifelong connections with Pencoyd. The ironworks gained an international reputation building the famous Atbara Bridge in Sudan, as well as for projects in Mexico, Japan, Kenya and Taiwan. Pencoyd built the first elevated railways in New York, Chicago and Boston. The tallest structure in New York at the time, the Manhattan Life Insurance Building, used Pencoyd’s engineering innovation to accomplish the previously unthinkable. Author Kevin Righter constructs the immense history of the Pencoyd Iron Works, which was located across the road from West Laurel Hill Cemetery.
About the Author
Kevin Righter was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and attended Haverford and Bryn Mawr Colleges, the University of Michigan and the University of California–Berkeley, where he received degrees in geology and geological science. His family is from the Philadelphia area dating back to 1680s (he is the ninth generation). Interest in the family history and the Philadelphia area was spurred by his parents, who started nearly from scratch and researched remarkable detailed history that even includes records in Europe. His great-grandfather Walter Righter worked at Pencoyd for nearly fifty years from 1885 to 1933, first as a mechanic, then as a supervisor and finally as superintendent of motive power. Righter is a planetary scientist living in Houston.