Over the years, I have written a number of columns on the Penn-Dixie Cement Company. The company operated three plants in Bath and Nazareth and employed many area residents. One of my former students, Blaine Hoffmeister, of Bath, gave me a rare Penn-Dixie paper named Penn-Dixie Cementer, dated April/May 1941.
The company also had plants in Portland Point, Clinchfield, Kingsport and Richard City, Tenn., with another in West Des Moines, Iowa. The paper prepared the employees for a possible world conflict. The paper used a quote from General Motors to sound an alert: “For the defense of our country, an idle or even an inefficient factory is today no better than a bombed-out one.”
On a positive note, 15 from the general offices in Nazareth were honored as was the afternoon shift at the local Penn Dixie Plant No. 6. One of the dedicated employees was from a lesson in history most of us are unaware of. Gregor Doraskio was, at one time, a member of the Imperial Russian Army and fought in the Russo-Japanese War at Port Arthur in China. By the way, that far-away conflict was ended by the mediation of President Theodore Roosevelt at a peace conference in Portsmouth, N.H.
Penn-Dixie locally provided cement for many northeast states. One of its largest contracts was for the construction of the New York City water system. Its Tennessee plants produced cement for many of the massive Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) dams, a project that was hoped would bring jobs and electricity to the South during FDR’s New Deal program to put people back to work.
The Kingsport plant sent the largest train load of cement in its history to the TVA on the Clinchfield Railroad.
The landmark company ceased Lehigh Valley operation in 1979, thus closing another chapter in our cement history.
In two weeks, we will be visiting Treichlers. Join us!