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(S) Historic Tredegar Iron Works (Tour and Presentation)

  • September 21, 2017
  • Tredegar Iron Works
  • 500 Tredegar St. , Richmond , VA , USA


A Joint Event with the
Central Virginia Section of ASME

Tredegar Iron Works
500 Tredegar Street
Richmond, Virginia

VCU Department of
Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering

Virginia Commonwealth University
East Engineering Hall, Room E1232
401 West Main Street
Richmond, Virginia

4:30 - 5:30 PM: Walk the grounds of Tredegar
6:00 - 6:40 PM: Dinner/Social at VCU
6:45 - 8:00 PM: Presentation at VCU

Cost: $15 per person, catered by Bottoms Up Pizza. Free for students, but reservations are required.

Reservations: Please notify Kurt Thompson at by 5:00 PM on Tuesday, September 19. Everyone is welcome.

Chairman's Message:

This event is intended to be universally interesting to all engineering disciplines as well as of interest from a historical perspective.  The Tredegar Iron works is a designated a National historic landmark and is open to the public.  Our speaker will also discuss how the Kanawha Canal, its turning basin, and the adjacent Hacksaw and Great Ship Canals with locks were engineering marvels of their time, and were necessary for the daily functions at Tredegar.

Taken together, there are numerous engineering related subjects so we are inviting ALL local engineering and history related societies to tour and discuss what was a major industrial center before, during, and after the Civil War.  So please come and join us for what I believe will be a fascinating tour and presentation.  We are charging $15 for this event, which includes a meal between the tour and the presentation at VCU.  Students from the local college chapters are free, but need to register beforehand so that we can have adequate supplies.

We thank the American Civil War Museum and the National Park Service for their gracious support of this event.

An Important Note:

Please plan to arrive at Historic Tredegar around 4:20 PM; the American Civil War Museum is keeping their grounds open an additional 30 minutes past closing (to 5:30 PM), so there should be plenty of time to see the grounds and outside artifacts.

At 5:30, attendees are invited to the VCU School of Engineering, (address 401 W. Main St. Richmond VA 23220). Enter at the crescent shape circle (front or rear). This is where the security station is setup. Bottoms Up Pizza and refreshments will be available before a presentation regarding the history of the James River and Kanawha Canal, and its importance to Tredegar, and Richmond.

About the Presentation:

The Tredegar Iron Works, in operation from 1837 to 1957, was one of Virginia's, and the United States', most important and prodigious industrial sites, producing munitions during five wars and supplying post-Civil War America with the supplies and resources that transformed American technology, transportation, and infrastructure in the decades that followed.

Founded in 1837 following the merger of two separate entities – the Tredegar Rolling Mill and the Virginia Foundry Company – The Tredegar Iron Works quickly became the premier iron-making facility in the Commonwealth. Owing to the mechanical prowess of millwrights from southeastern Wales who constructed the first rolling mills on site, Tredegar produced everything from farm implements to structural iron, from rail spikes to locomotives. In 1841, the first cannons were cast, with Tredegar quickly becoming a leading supplier of ordnance and artillery to the United States military; following the secession of Virginia in May 1861, Tredegar became chief armorer to the newly-formed Confederate States. After the war, Tredegar was instrumental in the expansion of the national railroad industry, selling rail spikes, rail chairs, angle bars, car wheels, and complete railway cars and trucks across the country.

Throughout its 120 years of operation, the Tredegar Iron Works depended solely on one source to power its over 22 acres of workshops, foundries, and machine shops: the James River and Kanawha Canal. First surveyed by George Washington, with construction beginning in 1785 in Richmond and moving westward, the James River and Kanawha Canal not only carried raw pig iron from blast furnaces in Botetourt County to Tredegar's foundries and forges, but also supplied all the energy needed for Tredegar's pulleys, belts, flywheels, turbines, and waterwheels, for the entirety of the company's existence.

About the Speakers:

Nathan Vernon Madison, the lecturer for the evening, as well as Joshua Lehuray, an historian and author with the ACWM's Education Department, will be on hand to answer any questions about the site.

See the full newsletter for more information.

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