Date of Graduation
This dissertation is a case study of the natural cement plant in Shepherdstown, (West) Virginia. The model of the dissertation is industrial archeology, that is, the recording and interpretation of individual industrial sites. The purpose of the study is to show how the case study in the context of industrial archeology can have a useful place in the social studies classroom by bringing students into closer contact with those who lived and worked at a particular place at a particular point in time. As early as 2450 B.C., engineers and builders used cement mortar in domestic buildings and monumental works. Roman Empire engineers improved on the cement technology of the Greeks through the skillful use of hydraulic cement, that is, cement that hardened under water and that was impervious to water. During the Middle Ages there was a general decline in the art of making reliable cement that was not revived until the Industrial Revolution in England, with the demand for a cement in new, large-scale civil engineering projects. Though John Smeaton did pioneering work in the production and use of hydraulic cement in the 1750's, James Parker in 1796 for the first time produced a practical hydraulic cement made of natural ingredients, that is, cement limestones which could be burned, and ground as they came from mines or quarries. Engineers in the United States used European cements until Canvass White put to practical use in 1817 the natural cement stone that he found in the building of the Erie Canal. During the next two decades, other canal engineers utilized natural cement in the masonry of the other canal in the Eastern United States, including the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal in the Upper Potomac River Valley. This dissertation contains description of the operations of several natural cement plants in the Potomac Valley, but it concentrates on the natural cement plant at Shepherdstown, (West) Virginia, one of the first cement plants in the United States. Typically, the Shepherdstown plant provided natural cement to the Washington, D.C. area and elsewhere for a period of seventy years until it reached the end of a gradual decline about 1900. By that time, Portland cement, through a process of carefully mixing selected ingredients and by using much higher temperatures than natural cement, which resulted in a generally higher-quality product, replaced natural cement in general usage. Until that time, however, the natural cement industry provided civil engineers and builders with one of the essential ingredients that helped to make possible the industrialization of the United States.
Hahn, Thomas Frederick, "The Industrial Archeology Of The Shepherdstown, West Virginia Site As A Case Study Of The Natural Cement Industry Of The Upper Potomac Valley." (1981). Graduate Theses, Dissertations, and Problem Reports. 8974.