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John Augustus Roebling Award for Contributions to Industrial Archeology

The “John Augustus Roebling Award for Contributions to Industrial Archeology” is presented by the Roebling Chapter of the Society for Industrial Archeology in recognition of an individual, group, or organization that has made an outstanding contribution to documenting or preserving the industrial heritage of the greater New York-New Jersey area. The award is presented annually at the Roebling Chapter’s Great Falls Symposium, unless the Award Committee determines that no worthy recipient is available that year. The award recipient must have either displayed an extraordinary effort in attempting to save or preserve a site of industrial or engineering interest or created unique or outstanding documentation through archeological research, photography, written history, or other means that provides a record of a site of industrial or engineering interest. The nominee need not be a Roebling Chapter member. If the award is to be made to an individual, that individual must be alive at the time he or she is selected as the award recipient. The award includes a citation read at the symposium, a framed certificate and a cash award of $250.

The Award Committee consists of three chapter members in good standing appointed by the Chapter’s President. The committee serves a staggered three term. The committee member in their third year serves as Chair, and then rotates off the committee. To date Ed Rutsch, Mike Raber, Mary Habstritt, Conrad Milster, George Bulow, Ulana Zakalak, Sandy Malter, Clifford Zink and Ingrid Wuebber have served on the Award Committee.

The first “John Augustus Roebling Award for Contributions to Industrial Archeology” was presented in 2003 to Conrad Milster in recognition for his efforts to preserve, document, interpret, and re-create steam technology in New York and New Jersey, and for teaching others what he knows. In 2004 Bill McKelvey was selected for his dedication to preserving the transportation heritage of New Jersey in all its watered and wheeled forms. Specifically cited were his promotion of canal preservation and tourism and his efforts to establish the New Jersey Transportation Heritage Center in Phillipsburg, NJ. Tom Flagg was presented the 3rd award in 2005 for embodying the IA approach to research, preservation, and documentation, which combines academic rigor, dirty-hands as well as library research, and unstoppable energy. Cited particularly was Tom’s research and publications on the operations of the Port of NY and NJ railroads. The first organization to receive the award was in 2006 when the “Friends of the High Line” was recognized for their great efforts to get the West Side Viaduct of the New York Central Railroad (“The High Line”) saved from destruction and made into a elevated linear world-class park on Manhattan’s west side. The 5th award was presented to the “Water Works Conservancy” for their tireless efforts to save, restore and interpret the Hackensack Water Company’s 1882 Milford Pumping Station. Gerald Weinstein was selected for the award in 2008. With a unique combination of photographic skills, knowledge of steam and electrical power, and dedicated preservation service including funding of many important projects, he has documented and helped preserve some of the most important and complex historic industrial resources in the Greater New York region. The 7th award was given in 2009 to the “Walkway Over the Hudson” in appreciation of the organization’s extraordinary efforts in saving the Poughkeepsie-Highland Railroad Bridge; providing a model of sustainability and adaptive re-use of an iconic industrial landmark. The 8th award was given in 2010 to the Roebling Museum in recognition of the outstanding contributions of the many dedicated people who persevered for fifteen years to realize their dream of a Roebling Museum. The Roebling Museum is located in the historic village of Roebling,New Jersey, and presents the story of the engineering genius of John A. Roebling, the Roebling family, the company town of Roebling and the technological innovations and products produced by the company that shaped the industrialized world. The award was presented to Patricia Millen, Executive Director of the Roebling Museum. The 9th award was given to Clifford Zink in 2011 in recognition of his achievements in documenting and preserving industrial heritage in New Jersey, particularly of the John A. Roebling's Sons Company. From 1985 to 1996 Clifford was the founding executive director of the Trenton Roebling Community Development Corporation that initiated the preservation and redevelopment of the Roebling Works in Trenton. His latest book, The Roebling Legacy, published this year, incorporates new research that traces the family and business through more than 200 years of industrial growth, decline and redevelopment. David Sharps received the 10th award in 2012 in recognition of his tireless efforts since 1986 to salvage and restore the 98-year-old wooden covered barge Lehigh Valley RR No. 79. Abandoned in Edgewater, New Jersey, David saved the barge from the developer's wrecking ball, and through his hard work and dedication transformed it into the Waterfront Museum, which not only exhibits historical relics and images, but also hosts a variety of educational and entertainment events. The barge was initially docked at Liberty Park in Jersey City, and since the 1990s, has been docked at Red Hook in Brooklyn. No award was presented in 2013. The 2014 and 11th award recipient was Scenic Hudson, in recognition of the creation of the West Point Foundry Preserve in Cold Spring, NY. Scenic Hudson sponsored eight years of research and archeological fieldwork, resulting in a nature preserve that includes preservation and interpretation of historic remains of an industrial site of national importance. Joshua Kavett is the 2015 recipient of the John A. Roebling Award in recognition of his extraordinary efforts to preserve and document the products and history of Fisher & Norris Inc., also known as the Eagle Anvil Works, Trenton, NJ. This company produced anvils and vises in Trenton, NJ from 1853 until it closed in 1979. This company produced more blacksmithing anvils than any other American company. Josh spent a summer salvaging the Trenton pattern warehouse after the company had been closed for 20 years. This has been a 16-yr labor of love, including a substantial cash outlay for a museum building and interior shelving and benches on which to display the collection.

© 2014 Roebling Chapter, Society for Industrial Archeology