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Allentown State Hospital, Pump Engine Among 36 New State Historical Markers | WDIY Local News

Contributed photo
Friedensville Mines Heritage
A sketch of the President Pumping Engine, which recently was approved to receive a state historical marker.

Two pieces of Lehigh Valley history are among those selected to receive new historical markers. WDIY’s Sarit Laschinsky has more.

The Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission announced last week that 36 new state historical markers have been approved, including two in Lehigh County.

According to a PHMC release, one of the two new local markers will commemorate the Allentown State Hospital, which the historical commission described as “Pennsylvania’s first hospital to treat mental illness through homeopathy.”

Opened in 1912, closed in 2010 and demolished in 2020, the Allentown State Hospital also became the first state hospital to end the use of patient seclusion in 1999, and gained international importance for its Psychiatric Emergency Response Teams, according to the historical commission.

The second marker will recognize the President Pumping Engine in Upper Saucon Township.

Constructed in 1872, and said to be named after President Ulysses S. Grant, the engine was the largest and most powerful single-cylinder rotative steam engine ever constructed.
It was used to lower the water level in the Friedensville zinc mines for mining operations.

According to the Friedensville Mines Heritage website, the engine was scrapped in 1900, except for one surviving boiler located in the basement of a shuttered factory in Allentown.

The new historical markers were selected from 91 applications, and commemorate various noteworthy people, places and events. This round of approvals included former governor Richard Thornburgh, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, Piper Aircraft, Ford Station Underground Railroad, the 1964 Marshalls Creek Explosion and Mount Pleasant, among others.

Lehigh County currently has 31 historical markers, while neighboring Northampton County has 74. There are over 2,500 of the blue historical signs across Pennsylvania.

(Original air-date: 12/12/22)

Sarit "Siri" Laschinsky is WDIY's News and Public Affairs Director.
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