56 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ
rounds, such as shafting and car axles, were made entirely out of pig iron smelted with anthracite coal. The gentle¬ man then said he did not care what they were made out of but that he wanted one thousand more axles just Uke the others. He said that they had had a train of cars going up a heavy grade; near the top of the grade the cars broke loose at the tender and ran back at a furious speed, and on striking a curve went off the track down an embankment and were piled on top of each other and all smashed to pieces; wheels and axles had been broken in all sorts of ways, but not one axle with "Norristown" stamped on it was broken. The pig iron used had been largely made at the Robesonia furnace, out of Cornwall ore, and had been puddled by the old dry process, and I doubt if equaUy good iron could be so successfully made at this time by the same process of puddling. At that time we were in the dark for a reason why the iron was so perfectly free from cold-short¬ ness, and we did not know until after the introduction of the Bessemer process, a practice that compeUed us to know absolutely what was in the ore. It was then that the chemist was caUed in to tell us some of Nature's wonderful secrets. This will be referred to again, and more fully, imder the Bessemer process.
In 1849 Messrs. Reeves, Abbott and Company arranged to build a rail mill and blast furnace at Safe Harbor, on the Susquehanna River, about twelve miles below Columbia and ten miles from Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Having in mind that the furnace and the raU branches of the iron industry were in the near future destined to become im¬ portant parts of the business, and having quite a good knowledge of rolUng-miU practice, and a very good prac¬ tical knowledge of machinery, such as was used in the roIUng miUs of that day, I made up my mind that it would be a good thing to learn something practical about