Workshop of the World

stories of industry in & around Philadelphia

Coal Export Pier, No. 124, c.1920
Iron Ore Import Pier, No. 122, c.1950
Windy Point, Delaware River, Philadelphia PA

John Mayer, Workshop of the World (Oliver Evans Press, 1990).

Windy Point has been an important wharf site for the Pennsylvania Railroad and its successors since the mid-1800s. The coal and iron ore piers are twentieth-century improvements to the area. Four domed fertilizer holders were added to the complex in 1988.

Conrail modernized the coal pier in the late 1970s, enabling it to handle 2,500 tons of coal per hour and to deliver coal to vessels with drafts up to a 40 feet. The coal pier includes a thawing shed (for winter operations) and is capable of mixing coal grades during the loading of vessels. Two parallel, rotary car-dumpers that can handle 77- and 100-ton railroad cars, dump the coal onto a conveyor belt that loads the coal on the ships. Pennsylvania and West Virginia coal is exported from the pier to European, Korean, and East Coast markets for use by utility companies and residential heating. 1

The iron ore pier is used by bulk vessels delivering ore from Canada and South America. The unloading buckets handle both "mud" ore and pellets, and can remove 17-ton bites from the hold of ships to a hopper, where the material moves by conveyor to ground storage or a loading hopper. The loading hopper weighs the ore as it is delivered to each car, thus eliminating the need for scales on the tracks. The ore is then shipped to steel mills in Bethlehem and Johnstown, Pennsylvania, and Weirton, West Virginia.

1  Larry DeYoung, "Amtrak and Conrail, Spring Tour," Chapternews, (the newsletter of the Oliver Evans Chapter of the Society for Industrial Archeology), Vol. 1, No. 1, (Summer 1984), p. 2.

Update May 2007 (by Joel Spivak):