Museum to open doors May 13
The Atlas Cement Company Memorial Museum will open at its Northampton site May 13 for the 20th year.
It is the only museum in the United States dedicated to the past and present cement industry with a focus on the once-thriving Atlas Cement Manufacturing Company and others. Since its opening in 2008, thousands of visitors have toured the 1401 Laubach Ave. museum. The building also houses the borough’s administrative offices, council chambers and the police station.
Museum Curator Ed Pany said the museum will be open 1-3 p.m. on the second and fourth Sundays through September. Admission is free.
The museum hosts special events, such as the 400 eighth-grade students from the Northampton Area Middle School and the Lehigh University engineering students who visited in April. Fifth-grade students from Colonel John Siegfried, George Wolf, Lehigh and Moore elementary schools will visit this month.
There have been visitors and delegations from China, Austria, Germany, England, Canada, Mexico, France and Brazil at the museum.
Cement plants from the region — Keystone, Lehigh Heidelberg, Lafarge and Essroc — have an active role with the museum.
The journey through the past and present begins in the museum’s lobby with a wall etched with the names of Atlas Cement workers, metal signs from the cement companies in the Lehigh Valley and cement bags with their company’s name.
Dominating the double glass doors is the outline of Atlas, a legendary figure of strength. Inside the museum, a replica of a large horse gives a brief message.
It was groupings of mules that brought the rocks from the quarry to be made into cement at the plant, which at one time had 5,000 workers. The plant provided cement for the construction of the Panama Canal and Empire State Building in New York City.
A huge mural covers a large wall. The painting by Roger Firestone, a former teacher at Northampton Area High School, depicts various settings from the borough’s past, the Atlas plant and some of its workers with quotes.
With more than 3,000 exhibits and artifacts, Pany said visitors continue to donate materials. New this season is a flag awarded to Coplay Cement Company by the federal government for its contribution manufacturing materials for the war effort during World War II.
From the Atlas Cement office to its laboratory, the museum is chock full of surprises and interactive exhibits. A train rail car sitting next to a replica of a cement storage structure that filled rail cars with cement, a demonstration on how cloth bags were filled with cement and barrels that held the product are among some of the attractions.
The museum’s board, doubling as tour guides, are Larry Oberly, Sally Madden and John Yurish, with an assist from borough Manager LeRoy Brobst.