In 1825, Lukens Steel Company rolled the plates for the Codorus, America's first iron-hulled vessel. It heralded the beginning of a long and successful relationship between Lukens and America's shipbuilding industry.
The building of the Philadelphia and Columbus Railroad in the 1830s near the Lancaster Pike opened up new markets for iron and steel. In fact, Lukens played a significant role in the development of the transportation infrastructure of our country. As transportation became faster, more efficient and comfortable, America experienced a transportation revolution, which in turn encouraged the opening of the United States to the Mississippi and beyond.
Lukens responded by producing boilerplates for riverboat companies in New Orleans and Baldwin Locomotives for the Pennsylvania and many other Railroads.
As railroad development surged in the early 1900s, the demand for boilerplate also increased, and Lukens continued to grow. During World War II, Lukens turned its attention to developments in heat-treated armor plate for naval vessels and military ground vehicles. Employment at the Lukens Steel Company soared and the mill was enlarged to produce the huge amounts of materials needed to supply the U.S. Navy with plate steel for its vast armada of combat and auxiliary ships.
The 1950s and 1960s saw continued expansion as the world entered the postmodern era. Lukens produced the hull plate for the first nuclear-powered submarine, the Nautilus; and produced steel for nuclear aircraft carriers, such as the Enterprise; oil tankers, such as the Manhattan; and skyscrapers, like the World Trade Center.
The tremendous strength of steel has made it a popular material for use in the automotive industry, appliances and house framing. Lukens Steel can also be found in bridges, fuel-storage tanks, drainage culverts, water-storage tanks, fuel pipes and utility poles.
Boiler Plate. Lukens was able to make the largest single sheet of steel available in the world. These sheets were assembled into steam boilers for locomotives and ships.
A firebox is where the coal is heated to in turn heat the water to produce steam to drive the engine. Tubes held in place by the holes seen on the right side, carry water over the coals, thus creating steam. This firebox is for a railroad locomotive.
An ad for the Union Pacific and Lukens Steel. The benefit of a single sheet can be seen here. Seams where two plates are welded together are weak spots. The benefit of a single sheet is a reduction in seams, thus a less likely risk of failure.
A boiler head made by Lukens for a ship ca. 1920. 15-ft. 3-inch diameter,
1-1/3" thick with holes custom-cut at Lukens. These boilers went into thousands of ships on rivers, lakes and oceans and helped transport people and goods globally.
Lukens plate, being the largest, has many military applications. Seen here is the USS New Jersey, built in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
The Manhattan, originally built by Bethlehem Steel, was fitted with a new bow made from Lukens steel. The ship is the first, slightly ahead of the icebreaker, to complete the Northwest Passage. These two ships are the only to ever accomplish this feat.
Lukens Steel has gone into many engineering projects such as dams. Here at the Cooley Dam, when steel went into the massive turbines that take water fall and convert it into electricity.
Lukens steel has gone into many art objects. The largest is the St. Louis Arch, signifying the opening of the west by train and riverboat.