The town of Monongahela is a charming but underappreciated historic area. Known locally as Mon City, Monongahela is the oldest settlement in the Monongahela Valley. Its history includes development as a transportation center supporting thousands of river journeys to the west; it was the location of a meeting of 226 whiskey rebels during the Whiskey Rebellion in 1794; and it’s filled with historical buildings that housed important people and even supported the Underground Railroad.
One such historical building is the Edward G. Acheson House, built in the 1800s and recognized as a National Landmark since 1976. This house belonged to an incredible inventor, born and raised in the local area. It’s his story that makes the Edward G. Acheson House so special.
About The Home
Located at 908 Main St., the Edward G. Acheson House is a 2-and-a-half story brick building that actually looks quite average. It’s exact date of construction is not known, although its style indicates the 1870s. And incredibly, that’s really all that can be said about the building itself, which was built in a very plain style. However, while the house itself appears quite ordinary, its inhabitant from 1890 and 1895 was anything but.
About The Man
Inventor Edward G. Acheson was the man who truly made this house special. Acheson was from nearby Washington, PA., born into a family of coal miners. Self-educated and motivated, Acheson worked on projects of his own invention from a young age, which eventually led to him working his way into a laboratory job with Thomas Edison in 1880.
It was 10 years later that he came to Monongahela, working for a local utility company and continuing his own experiments in his new home. Mon City locals will tell you that these experiments took place in a kitchen built into the back of the house, although no official documentation can confirm this.
Wherever they took place, his experiments eventually led to the invention of Silicon carbide (SiC), also known as carborundum – a material that has almost countless uses in structural materials, electrical systems, automobile parts. jewelry, and more. Acheson didn’t stop there. In 1894, he established the Carborundum Company in Monongahela City to produce grinding wheels, whetstones, knife sharpeners, and powdered abrasives.
Eventually, after five years in the Monongahela town, Acheson moved on to continue his work in Niagara Falls, New York, where he could produce his invention on a larger scale in a local power station. In fact, Acheson’s electrochemical company was among the first to come to Niagara Falls, and the power of its electric furnace allowed him to produce artificial graphite – just another notch under his incredibly inventor’s belt.
Acheson’s self-driven life as an inventor cannot be understated and deserves high praise. So important was his work that many of his original companies live on today, often as subsidiaries of various corporations. And fortunately for us, the house remained in place for 81 years after his departure, long enough for it to be recognized as a National Landmark in 1976.
About The Town
Today the house is just a small part of the beautiful and historic area of Monongahela. From its historical buildings, to the Monongahela Aquatorium, to summertime markets, to beautiful trails and access to the Mon River, the town is a wonderful place to visit. History lovers and paddlers alike should add it to their destination list – after all, it isn’t often that one of the best places to kayak is stuffed full of other activities to boot!