In 1835, Richard Jones made and tested a steam powered boat in the Wilkes-Barre canal basin. A mill worker, Jones had created the small engine from drawings seen in books. He formed Jones Iron Works in 1849 (this year is referred to by Vulcan as when they were established). In 1867, he incorporated Vulcan Iron Works, located on South Main Street in Wilkes Barre. The company began making various products for the mining industry, and in 1874 produced their first steam locomotive. In 1883 they merged with Pittston Iron Works and Wilkes-Barre Iron Works, and in 1888 acquired Wyoming Valley Manufacturing Company. These moves greatly increased Vulcan’s product offering and production capabilities. Vulcan produced steam, gasoline, diesel, electric, and storage battery locomotives, as well as electric hoists, sheave wheels, and many other mine related equipment. The products made their way around the globe, with engines notably used by US, British, Italian, and German armies in WW1. After WW2, Vulcan struggled as the American industrial era was in decline. They began producing diesel electric engines, but were outpaced by General Electric and General Motors. They filed for bankruptcy in 1954. As of 2022, several buildings still exist, owned by Abe N Solomon Inc as a scrap yard.
Photos showing just a few of the many different products Vulcan product. Hagley Museum and Library collection.
Underground mine locomotive catalog, Hagley Museum and Library collection.
Photos of the Wyoming Valley shops and office building, the main operation around 1900, Hagley Museum and Library collection.
Photos of the West Pittston shops and office building, the main operation around 1900, Hagley Museum and Library collection.
Photos showing the Oak Hill hoist being manufactured. Eric Bella collection.
Photos showing other hoists being manufactured and installed. Eric Bella collection.
Our photos from the early 2000s showing the remaining buildings at the site.
Wilkes Barre Vulcan shop engine, saved by a friend of UGM.
Various Vulcan Iron Works Catalogs
Standard-Speaker (Hazleton), William C. Kashatus, Mar 6, 2011, Page C1