National Geographic : 1952 Jul
The National Geographic Magazine The Lenox concern's first building was so erected that it could be turned into a tenement if it failed, so uncertain were Walter Scott Lenox's backers of his ability to make fine china in America. Unfortunately he became both blind and paralyzed just as success came, but he went to the factory every day in a wheel chair. The son of the chief assistant to Lenox then is now president. Here the River Changes Its Character Although the so-called "Falls" at Trenton are merely rapids, the city is on the fall line, that geological boundary where rivers pass from rocky formations to softer soils. Close to the fall line there has developed a north east-southwest axis of trade and travel, from New York through Trenton, Philadelphia, Wilmington, Baltimore, Washington, Rich mond, and on through the Carolinas to Georgia. In a number of cases ocean-going vessels can navigate rivers below the fall line, while even a canoe has difficulty above it. The Delaware Valley levels off at Trenton into a low coastal plain, and the river itself becomes an inlet of the sea, gradually widening into an estuary and merging into the broad expanse of Delaware Bay. Thus the bay and lower river form a long, continuous navigable channel for cheap water transportation. But more than half a billion cubic yards of sand, gravel, and rock had to be dredged from the river during the past 35 years to maintain deep draft to Philadelphia. Further dredging between Philadelphia and Trenton will create, in effect, a single port or harbor which will include many cities and towns. Among them, besides Trenton itself, are Bordentown, Burlington, Camden, and Paulsboro in New Jersey; Bristol, Philadel phia, and Chester in Pennsylvania; and Wil mington in Delaware. Steelmakers Turn to the Delaware On both shores lie extensive areas of low, level ground suitable for heavy industry. Already this has become one of the world's great industrial regions, and the new Fairless Works of the United States Steel Corporation, for which ground was broken on March 1, 1951, three miles south of Trenton at Morris ville, Pennsylvania, may so speed up this process as to change the whole economic pic ture of the Nation, geographically speaking. Although America's first open hearth fur nace, the type in which most steel is now made,* was set up in Trenton in 1868, steel production in modern times has centered in the Pittsburgh, Youngstown, Buffalo, Cleve land, and Chicago areas. A single large com pany, the Bethlehem Steel Corporation, main- tains a major plant on the Atlantic seaboard, near Baltimore. Bethlehem's striking success with its Spar rows Point plant, the saving on freight rates to east coast consumers, the increasing use of foreign ores, a good market area, locations where raw materials and finished products can be shipped by water-these and other con siderations have caused steelmakers to seek eastern sites on the Delaware. At the United States Steel Fairless Works it is planned eventually to use ore from Vene zuela. The works now being built will not be the largest in the country, but will be by far the largest ever erected at one time. The site is a peninsula formed by a great bend in the river just below Trenton. The land area to be occupied is roughly one-fourth smaller than the entire city of Trenton and is so large that the plant can be materially expanded. There are six miles of river front. More than 50 acres will be devoted to treat ing industrial wastes and purifying water taken out of the river and returned to it. Although 230,000,000 gallons a day will be taken out, about 242,000,000 gallons will be returned, because most of 15,000,000 gallons obtained from underground sources also will be turned into the river. Huge Mill Sprouts from 63 Farms The steel mill will occupy the site of 63 different farms, the largest being the Starkey Farms, Inc. Several colonial dwellings and other structures had to be removed. When I visited the scene, the material in some old houses was being sent to the Mount Vernon Ladies' Association. A small part of it was usable in restoring the servants' quarters and greenhouse at Mount Vernon, Virginia. Of approximately 5,000 employees which the works will need, it is hoped that 85 percent can be recruited and trained within a radius of 30 miles. Admittedly, the sudden transi tion from farm to industry in this Bucks County area has raised many difficult problems of employment, housing, traffic, and utilities. Below Trenton are several old river towns, such as Bristol on the Pennsylvania, and Bor dentown and Burlington on the New Jersey side, which thus far are little affected by the valley's mounting tide of industrialization. "If we are forced to flee to America, I should choose a place between Philadelphia and New York and on the Delaware River, in order to get news by packet," tradition has Napoleon saying to his brother Joseph, onetime King of Naples and Spain. * See, in the NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE: "Pittsburgh: Workshop of the Titans," July, 1949, and "Steel: Master of Them All," April, 1947, both by Albert W. Atwood.