Blowing Engines Presentation


This presentation is part of NMIH's Virtual Museum Live Programs. Please visit their website for more information.

Where does the blast for blast furnaces come from? For many furnaces, the blast of air was supplied by “blowing engines.” This presentation will describe how massive engines once ran around the clock to pump the requisite two tons of air required for every ton of iron produced. We will trace the evolution of air pumping devices associated with blast furnaces and do a deep dive into the “Gas Blowing Engine House” in Bethlehem, Pa, which is the largest surviving facility of its type in the world.

This lecture is presented by NMIH Historian Mike Piersa. Mike graduated with a bachelor’s in history from Moravian College and a master’s in history from Lehigh University. He has been with NMIH for over 17 years and has been instrumental in the research and interpretation behind the museum’s collections as well as the restoration of historical industrial equipment both at the museum and at outside facilities. His quarry machinery preservation work resulted in him becoming an MSHA Certified Miner and taking leading roles in important restoration and preservation projects across the country, including the Bangor Quarry Hoist Project, a collaboration between the Totts Gap Arts Institute, the American Industrial Mining Company Museum, and the Borough of Bangor, PA.

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