National Canal Museum


After Philadelphians Josiah White and Erskine Hazard discovered how to burn anthracite as fuel, they began improving the Lehigh River to convey the coal from the Lehigh Valley to towns down river. Because parts of the river were too shallow for navigation, White engineered and patented a "bear trap" lock, which created hydrostatic pressure to carry a boat down a flume to the next lower level. To ensure a market for their coal, White and Hazard offered incentives to any industry that exclusively used anthracite. Thanks to their incentives, America's first commercially successful anthracite iron furnaces were established along the Lehigh River.

Activity Details

Activity Type:Trips and Destinations
Discipline:Civil, Environmental
Topic(s):Structures
Grade:K-2, 3-5, 6-8, 9-12
Time:Full day

Fun Fact:During the War of 1812, Philadelphia was cut off from its "soft" coal supply, so factory owners Josiah White and Erskine Hazard tried "stone coal" (anthracite.) Unable to get it to burn, a workman slammed the furnace door and left. Soon the coal was burning! Following this discovery, White and Hazard formed the Lehigh Coal and Navigation Company.