Comparing Wales and NEPA

From: Cassie Dumas

Y Bont Aur – The Golden Bridge

After exploring the beautiful landscapes and the interesting culture of Wales for the past few days, I’ve started to think about the differences and similarities between here and NEPA. A huge similarity between Wales and NEPA is the coal and iron industries. This past Friday, the choir and I visited the site in Ystradgynlais where the iron industry flourished towards the beginning of the industrial revolution. The remnants of the Ynysgedwn Ironworks stand as what is called “Y Bont Aur” or “The Golden Bridge.” These are two massive arches that were part of the original ironworks building and are impressive in themselves. The peak of the site’s popularity was in the early 1800’s when a man named David Thomas worked towards perfecting the use of anthracite coal in the iron smelting process. This process had never before been perfected and yet on February 5th, 1837, he succeeded and thus created anthracite iron. This is where our local history comes in. In 1839, David Thomas then emigrated to America and began working for the Lehigh Coal and Navigation Company where his techniques became very useful to the people in our area because of the abundance of anthracite coal. At the ironworks site in Wales, an informative sign states, “David Thomas revolutionized iron production in America and he is known as the ‘Father of the American anthracite iron industry’ to the present day.'”

The Choir at the Iron Works Bridge