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Saxonburg: John A Roebling & the Historic Butler County Borough that Changed the World

Saxonburg Borough is a relatively small borough, but it celebrates its history extremely well. It was founded by Friedrich and John Roebling, brothers who emigrated from Germany to seek freedom from oppression in Germany. They founded Saxonburg as a farming community, and once they were settled in, John returned to his core passion of engineering. In Saxonburg, John A. Roebling created the innovation of wire rope, a technology that made the creation of easier to build and stronger bridges. Roebling would go on to create a series of critical bridges, for which Pittsburgh was the testing ground for the technology, and the pinnacle of his projects was the Brooklyn Bridge, the first bridge to successfully cross the East River and connect the then twin cities of New York City and Brooklyn.
© Joshua Haviv/Shutterstock
The Brooklyn Bridge eventually led to the two cities to becoming one (at this point, the separate city of Brooklyn was 4th in population in the country, just after New York City, Chicago, and Philadelphia. For years it was the bridge was tallest structure in the Western Hemisphere, and the longest suspension bridge in the world. The technology that Roebling came up with is still utilized in cable suspension bridges to this day, not to mention funiculars, cable cars, and basically anything else that requires thick cable. 

Aside from the Brooklyn Bridge, Roebling's Delaware Aqueduct (the oldest remaining suspension bridge) between PA and NY, the John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge across the Ohio River between Cincinnati and Covington, KY, and the Ojuela Bridge in Mexico, and the "Shaky Bridge" in Trenton are the four other existing Roebling spans aside from the Brooklyn Bridge.
The Saxonburg Museum by the local historical society has a whole bunch of industrial history preserved, including original transmitter equipment from the original KDKA, the first commercial radio broadcaster in the world.

The Roebling House aka the Roebling Shop. The first place of manufacture of wire rope by John A Roebling. 

The museum has a mini scale replica of the Brooklyn Bridge. A nice and cute touch that often makes roadside oddity lists.

The site also has a nice picnic area and gathering place, which is something that I believe every town should have. 

Overall, we definitely recommend stopping and checking out Saxonburg if you are passing through. The technological contributions of the area are much greater than the size of the borough. The innovation that came out of this town has enabled the country to grow into what it has. All because of the opportunity our nation gave to two brothers that were looking to escape oppression. John A. Roebling's story is an American story that represents the very best of what America is capable of offering, as both a refuge and a place for people to come for opportunity and realize their fullest potential. 


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