By Robert Stoneback
The Danville News
— DANVILLE – A new borough mural isn’t just an attractive decoration, but an important reminder of Danville’s history, according to local historians.
The new mural, created by Jo Pennypacker and painted on the side of Mill Street’s Royal Nails Salon, depicts the Montour Iron Works building from the 1800s, where the first iron railroad T-rails in America were created.
The Montour Iron Works “is the icon of Danville’s iron heritage,” said local historian Van Wagner. “That building more than anything else sums up our story as a community.”
The T-rail was “extraordinarily important” as it made transcontinental railroad travel possible, Wagner said. “It revolutionized the world, the fact that Danville made it here, in 1845, is something the community should continue to celebrate.”
The T-rail is perhaps the most important invention of its time as it paved the way for mass transit around the world, Wagner said.
He argues that it wasn’t until America started making its own iron T-rails in Danville, making rapid transportation across the country a reality, that the country was independent from Great Britain. Before T-rails started being created at the Montour Iron Works, they had to be imported from England, Wagner said. “If we couldn’t even build our own railroad with our own iron, were we really independent?” he asked.
The Montour Iron Works also represents the hardworking members of the Danville community. “Danville was, and continues to be famous for our work ethic and the excellence of our work force around here,” Wagner said. He drew a comparison to Geisinger Medical Center, a nationally recognized hospital. “It’s not the building that’s famous, it’s the people inside … that make it such a fantastic facility. That is an echo of what Danville is famous with its iron works,” he said.
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