The Thomas Iron Company property was the site of one of the first commercially successful anthracite-powered iron-making operations in North America. All that now remains is a massive concrete structure, decaying in the woods between the Ironton Rail Trail and the Lehigh River.
David Thomas was a Welsh immigrant who came to Catasauqua in the 1830s. Not long after, he started the Lehigh Crane Iron Company. In the 1850s, he expanded his company to include both sides of the Lehigh River. This expansion marked the beginning of the Thomas Iron name.
The company grew for about half a century until technology began to change. Most of the assets were sold to the Reading Iron Company in the 1920s and many of the furnaces were almost immediately abandoned. The plant was sold to Bethlehem Steel in the 1930s and scrapped. By the 1940s, there was nothing left of the Thomas Iron Company except these remains which were abandoned and left to decay.
Today, there are only a few empty concrete shells of previous buildings along with a few tunnels. They are covered top to bottom in graffiti as this is a popular hangout area for teenagers and young adults. There are also motocross tracks surrounding some of the building, going up and down the river’s edge.
Know Before You Go
The best way to get here is off the Ironton Rail Trail between E Church Street and the American Legion in Hokendauqua.
Park anywhere on the road of E Church Street and follow the Ironton Rail Trail towards the direction of the Legion, until there is a small trail cleared between trees opposite a concrete wall.
Follow the trail down towards the railroad tracks and the first of the buildings will be to the left. There are multiple other trails leading around to other buildings and motocross tracks. Keep an eye out for people on dirt bikes or quads.