From the eighteenth to late twentieth century, iron and steel production expanded from furnaces to large corporations.
Using the Schuylkill River for power and waste, Southeastern Pennsylvania was home to many iron furnaces in colonial America. After the invention of the Bessemer process in 1856, factories were expanded to incorporate the production of steel. One of the most prominent companies was the Alan Wood Steel Company, which was established in Conshohocken in 1832. With its extensive network, the company became a model for metal manufacturing in Montgomery County. Throughout its existence, the Alan Wood Steel Company produced a multitude of metal products for items such as automobiles, trains, and ships. However, like most metal manufacturing companies in the region, Alan Wood Steel Company struggled to keep up with foreign manufacturers and closed in 1977.