Historic Structures

John T. Beasley Building - Citizens Gas & Fuel Company, Terre Haute Indiana

The Citizens Gas & Fuel Company Building is directly associated with the development of utilities in the midwest, and with the use of gas for lighting, heat and cooking. Gas light illumination moved slowly westward across the Appalachians, from its first installation in Baltimore in 1817. By 1848, when Washington DC saw its first gas light company organized, demonstrations of the new marvel had been held in the midwest, in such metropolises as St. Louis, Dayton and Cincinnati. Only five years later, in 1853, the Terre Haute Gas Light Company received its city charter, although it would be three years more before the community could claim to be an illuminated city. Terre Haute in the nineteenth century was a small town with big ambitions. The railroads had come through in 1852, the Wabash & Erie canal ran north to Lafayette and south to Evansville and the National Road (now Wabash Avenue) was the highway to the far west. Even though, according to the 1850 census, the population was only a little over four thousand people, several intrepid local entrepreneurs planned a gas works which would serve nearly 50,000 inhabitants. The original plant, which was under construction in the summer of 1855, was built by a Mr. Bickwell of Philadelphia at a reported cost of $40,000. Like most town gas companies, Terre Haute Gas Light Company manufactured coal gas, storing it in a large gas holder at the plant, and distributing it to customers through gas mains of between three and six inches in diameter. Meters recorded the amount drawn down by each user. When the community was first lit up with gas, in 1856, between 14 and 15 miles of gas lines had been laid, 329 street lamps were illuminated and between eight and nine hundred meters had been installed. The farsighted planners had, from the beginning, looked forward to the community's growth and development. The advantages of gas-lit city streets were proudly proclaimed by the local paper in October of that first year of light: Lighting our streets with gas has commenced. Night walking will soon be brilliant.


Thames River Railroad Bridge - Groton Bridge, New London Connecticut

The national railway network that was to be one of the critical catalysts in the industrialization of the United States was largely completed between 1840 and 1880. Most early railroads were short lines that attempted to tap economic resources of the hinterlands of cities. By the second quarter of the 19th century, cities east of the Mississippi, particularly those in the northeast, began to build longer lines and consolidate shorter ones to tie them more closely together. The New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad provides an excellent example of how railroad systems were created and how they advanced transportation technology, including movable bridges, with their economic power. The New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad was first formed by a consolidation of the Hartford and New Haven Railroad Company with the New York & New Haven Company, when the two railroads entered into a partnership agreement. The capital was divided, and the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad was established on August 6, 1892. Lengthy and intricate patterns of acquisiton were common to railroading in the late 19th century. Empires were created as well as monopolies on the transportation of goods. The peak growth years of the American railroads were the early 1900s and, of those, the teens (1911-1919) were the final surge. The decline of the railroads after those years was due partly to the excesses of transportation monopolies in the last quarter of the 19th century and partly to a combination of rising costs and competition from other modes of transportation.


Lembeck and Betz Eagle Brewery, Jersey City New Jersey

The Lembeck & Betz Eagle Steam Ale Brewery was founded by Henry F. Lembeck, a businessman from Jersey City, and John Betz, a beer brewer from New York City. Betz was the son of John F. Betz, the first German ale brewer in America, who operated the John Betz brewery in Philadelphia. It was in his father's brewery that John Betz learned his trade. Lembeck operated a grocery store in New York City which he moved to Jersey City. At some point in time, Lembeck was a sales agent of John Betz Ale and made the acquaintance of the younger John Betz. In 1868, Lembeck and Betz formed a partnership to build a brewery, which they named the Lembeck & Betz Eagle Steam Ale Brewery. In 1869, they completed construction of a four-story brick brew house on Ninth Street between Grove and Henderson Streets in Jersey City, New Jersey, and opened for business. As the business grew during the 1870s, the brew house was expanded with additions to the east and to the rear, the addition of another story to the main building, and changes to the facade. By 1879, Lembeck & Betz produced 31,532 barrels of beer, ranking it third among the 57 breweries in New Jersey which together produced nearly 520,000 barrels annually. One of the main factors in choosing the site was the availability of good industrial land located adjacent to a branch line of the Erie Railroad which ran down Tenth Street. Bulk commodities moved by rail, and the Erie provided direct rail connections to upstate New York, the primary source of hops and malt for beer making. Naturally, the close rail line also facilitated the delivery of coal, building materials, and equipment necessary for the continued operation and expansion of the plant. The 1928 Hopkins map shows a rail siding coming down Tenth Street and entering the complex between the Bottling House and the Original Brew House. The date of the building of this siding was not determined. By 1893, Lembeck & Betz were obtaining malt via the Erie Railroad from Lembeck's malt house in Watkins, New York. The H.F. Lembeck and Co. malt house fronted on Seneca Lake and was the principal feature of the town. Following the incorporation of the brewery, the ownership of the malt houses came under the corporation. To what degree the railroad was used for transport of the finished product is not known. Presumably the majority of the beer was delivered to homes and taverns by the company's horse-drawn wagons. By 1893, the company owned 72 horses, 24 new beer trucks, and 12 ale trucks.


Joseph Wheeler Plantation, Wheeler Alabama

The General Joseph Wheeler Plantation, which is primarily significant for its associations with General Joseph Wheeler, retains much of its 19th Century plantation ambience and appearance and contains three structures representative of three generations of plantation life in 19th Century Alabama. The three main structures include: a one-story log house constructed around 1818 by the Hickman family which homesteaded the plantation; a two-story log and clapboard home constructed as the family's permanent residence during the 1820's; and a two and a half story frame home which was built by Wheeler during the latter portion of the 19th Century and served both as the center of his large and prosperous plantation and as his home until his death in 1906. Joseph Wheeler symbolizes restoration of rule in the postbellum South and political reconciliation between that section and the North. A renowned cavalry officer in the Confederate Army, Wheeler became an Alabama planter after the Civil War, and beginning in 1884 he won eight successive elections to the U.S. House of Representatives. Like many other so-called Bourbon Democrats, he maintained a paternal attitude toward blacks, opposed civil rights legislation, and called upon southerners to forget the war and devote their energy to industrialization. Wheeler never became a powerful figure in Congress, but his intelligent speeches on a variety of subjects made him one of the best known men in Washington. In 1898, while still a member of the House, he resumed his military career. To erase the last vestiges of sectionalism and make the Spanish-American War a national effort, President William McKinley appointed Wheeler a major general of volunteers. He became the only corps commander in U.S. military history who had held a similar position in the Confederacy.


Miah Maull Shoal Lighthouse, Delaware Bay New Jersey

The Miah Maull Shoal Lighthouse is a well-preserved embodiment of the cast-iron and concrete caisson foundation technology which was used from 1876 to 1913 in lighthouses that occupied waterbound sites in the northeastern United States. At least 50 such lighthouses were built. Miah Maull Shoal, designed in 1907 and completed in 1913, was the last example of this type built before reinforced concrete technology was introduced; it was also one of the last major navigational aids built in the Delaware Bay. As part of a string of lighthouses in the bay and the lower Delaware River that were in place before World War One, Miah Maull Shoal helped foster the improved navigation of the Delaware that was crucial to the success of the Hog Island Shipyard (now the site of the Philadelphia International Airport), which was established in 1917. By the end of the conflict, Hog Island had become the largest shipyard in the world. The Miah Maull Shoal itself, which was named for an eighteenth-century Delaware mariner, was 800 yards wide and 3,000 yards long at a depth of 13 feet — a significant hazard to large modern ships, which required a much greater draft. The need for a deep channel, both for commercial and for military purposes, was foreseen during the early years of this century. Now known as the Philadelphia Ship Channel, it was called for by Congress in the River and Harbor Act of 1909 to be a 35-foot deep channel at least 800 feet wide from the Philadelphia and Camden wharves and shipyards to the mouth of Delaware Bay, to replace an existing 600-foot wide, 26-foot deep channel begun in 1885. Subsequent improvements have deepened the channel to 40 feet.

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