The Hopkin Thomas Project

The Hopkin Thomas Project is a historical research project concerning the activities of a Welsh engineer who emigrated to America in 1834 bringing with him technical knowledge which was instrumental in the development of anthracite-fueled steam locomotives used by the Beaver Meadow and other railroads in the eastern Pennsylvania coal fields. He witnessed the utilization of his expertise related to the iron and coal industries at the Crane Iron Co., Catasauqua, Pa. in the 1850-1870 time period; he trained a cadre of followers who went on to succeed as leaders in the iron and steel industries in the late nineteenth century. He is the patriarch of seven generations of engineers and industrialists who can trace their roots to the Lehigh Valley of Pennsylvania.

This project consists of the following:

Coal, Fire, Iron & Steam - A history of the life of Hopkin Thomas and the technology that he utilized and helped develop in the mid-nineteen century.  This work is published on this web site (Internet-browser-based) form and will be also distributed to interested parties on disk. The history covers with HopkinÕs life in Wales and the technological developments that occurred there during his early years, in Philadelphia at the time of HopkinÕs emigration, and his subsequent activities at Beaver Meadow, Tamaqua, and Catasauqua, Pennsylvania.

Hopkin Thomas Family Ties - a genealogical data base showing the connection between the Hopkin Thomas family and other prominent Lehigh Valley families. Included are connections to Asa Packer, organizer of the Lehigh Valley Railroad and Lehigh University; to the Heller and Horn families who were prominent in the development of Easton and Hellertown; to the David Thomas family of Catasauqua who pioneered the hot-blast method of producing iron; to the Laubach family that at one time held 40% of the land area of Northampton County; and on and on. There are currently over 45,000 persons in the data base.

James Thomas of Pennsylvania and the Alabama Iron Industry (1872-1879). This is a monograph directed at documenting the efforts of James Thomas, son of Hopkin Thomas, during the post-civil war decade when he played a prominent role in the reconstruction of the Birmingham Alabama iron industry. The object of this work is to correct some of the confusion which permeates the very thoroughly documented history of this industry - confusion resulting from the fact that two Thomas families from the Lehigh Valley had interests in that reconstruction.


Please send comments, correction, additions, etc to the compiler:

September 2017