ASME-Landmark:Westmoreland Iron Works


The Westmoreland Iron Works, founded as Oakhill Malleable Iron Company in 1833 and established under its present name in Westmoreland in 1850, was the oldest malleable iron company in continuous operation in the United States. Its history was inseparable from that of the small town of Westmoreland, where neighbors and workers kept time by the foundry bell. Erastus W. Clark, who along with his brother-in-law Abel Buell brought the foundry to Westmoreland, ran the ironworks until 1871 and was the first of six generations who owned and managed it.

Malleable iron founding is one of the oldest national industries, begun in the United States by Seth Boyden (1788-1870) in the 1820s, who developed his theory about the heat treatment of iron after observing the behavior of iron that stuck to the walls of his grandfather's forge. His invention, called blackheart iron, is often used for small castings requiring good tensile strength and ductility, the ability to flex without breaking.

Foundries sprung up throughout the east, casting saddlery hardware, carriage parts, and agricultural implements. The railroads became the largest customer for malleable iron castings around the turn of the century, and eventually automobile manufacturers used it for rear axle housings, differential cases, hubs, and so on.

The Westmoreland Iron Works closed in the early 1990s; its ASME landmark plaque was given to the Westmoreland Historical Society. See ASME website for more information