View Interactive Timeline

Harsco History: Spanning Two Centuries of Success

For more than 160 years, Harsco has played a fundamental role in industrial progress, expanding across the United States and the world to deliver critical products and technologies to our customers and the markets they serve.

The Harrisburg Car Manufacturing Company

Harsco's rich history dates back to 1853, when a small group of entrepreneurs founded the Harrisburg Car Manufacturing Company. Sparked by the growth of the U.S. railroad system, Harrisburg Car Manufacturing Company successfully produced rail cars for more than 30 years from its manufacturing facility just blocks from Pennsylvania's state Capitol building. While the company initially manufactured basic railroad freight cars, it later expanded into oil tank cars and refrigerated cars, along with agricultural steam engines and boilers and farming and machinists' tools. Like the Harsco of today, innovation was a foundation for the Harrisburg Car Manufacturing Company.

The Harrisburg Pipe and Pipe Bending Company

In 1890, the Harrisburg Pipe and Pipe Bending Company rose from the former Harrisburg Car Manufacturing Company. Founded by the son of the general manager and two friends, the trio took their small pile of cash and innovative minds and built an enterprise. Using techniques they'd learned to reliably shape steel pipe, they ultimately proved the feasibility of refrigerated rail transport. Production surged as their new technology was applied to ice-making equipment, shipping containers for ammonia and numerous other products. Over the course of the next decades, the Harrisburg Pipe and Pipe Bending Company continued to expand production and open new business lines in gas shipping, including the lucrative carbon dioxide and oxygen canisters market. The company's steel coils even cooled America's first indoor ice rink, located in Pittsburgh. 

 Harrisburg Steel

On February 27, 1935, the Harrisburg Pipe and Pipe Bending Company became the Harrisburg Steel Corporation, a change that better reflected its diverse portfolio of forged iron and steel products for industry. During World War II, the workforce swelled to more than 5,000 employees, and the company's efforts earned the coveted Navy E and Army-Navy E awards for dependable, high-volume production.

Entering the 1950s, the company embarked on a deliberate path of industrial diversification, expanding its capacity beyond industrial metalcrafts to include several emerging lines of business, from onsite metal recovery at steel mills to the production of a range of gas containment equipment.


In its quest to further broaden and diversify its businesses, Harrisburg Steel and its subsidiaries combined to form Harsco Corporation on January 28, 1956, and began trading on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol "HSC." Through myriad acquisitions over the next five decades, Harsco propelled itself into new industries and new markets around the world -- from steel and metal services and railway track maintenance to boiler and heat exchanger manufacturing. In 2009, Harsco united all of its operations under three business segments: Rail, Industrial and Metals & Minerals. Today, Harsco holds market-leading positions in each segment and has more than 160 operating location in some 30 countries worldwide.

Harsco has travelled a long and exciting road over the past 160 years, and we are enthusiastic about writing the next chapters in our story. As the future becomes the present, we remain committed to building our path forward on fundamental core values that include a focus on safety, integrity, customer satisfaction, and a passion for winning..