Dillsburg, PA. (Dec 1st, 2010) – "Some things are just built to Last": 

Ever heard of the Rockville Bridge?
Joseph Machine Company is located approximately 25 minutes due south of Marysville PA, the home of a historical structure. At least one employee at JMC passes this amazing structure on his way into work every weekday. I myself have passed it and not realized the significance it holds in the world of railroad bridges.  It turns out that it is actually the longest arched stone masonry (composite) bridge in the WORLD, built in the early 1900's.  Here is what the www.explorePAhistory.com has to say about this magnificent bridge that was BUILT TO LAST.

Rockville Bridge
Region: Hershey/Gettysburg/Dutch Country Region
County: Perry
Marker Location:US 11 and 15 at N end of Marysville

Historic Marker Text -
The longest stone masonry arch railroad bridge in the world, one mile to the south, was built 1900-02. With forty-eight arches, it has a length of 3,820 feet. This was the third bridge constructed here by the Pennsylvania Railroad. A wooden structure had been built 1847-49, followed by an iron bridge in 1877.

"At Rockville, just above the capital city, they have thrown across the Susquehanna a four-track bridge of monolithic stone seven-eighths of a mile long and stepped in graceful arches as enduring as the mountains that look down on the beautiful river. . . . it has been built to last forever."
- Writer and novelist Frank H. Spearman, The Strategy of Great Railroads, 1904.

Old Rockville Bridge, circa 1892
Credit: Courtesy of the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania, Operated by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission

Rockville Bridge, an icon of railroad engineering, is the crowning achievement of William Henry Brown, chief engineer of the Pennsylvania Railroad. And this amazing stone bridge, composed of 220,000 tons of stone that took 800 workers two years to build, also stands as a monument to overcoming frustration. As the United States matured into an industrialized nation after the Civil War, the trains that moved the nation forward grew longer, heavier, faster, and more frequent. Wooden bridges that were perfectly adequate in the 1840s quickly began to wear out. Some even went up in smoke from sparks spewed from the stacks of passing steam locomotives. And with the growth of business, PRR's main line no longer carried a mere seven trains a day but as many as 100.

Though iron was stronger than wood, spectacular and often tragic failures on some railroads showed what could happen when iron spans were overloaded and under-maintained. As a result, Brown soon began pushing the idea that only costly stone-arch bridges -like those used in the earliest days of railroading - were durable enough to withstand both the passage of time and the growing number of mainline freight and passenger trains. Beginning in 1888, he decreed that replacement bridges on PRR's busiest routes, including its Philadelphia-Pittsburgh main line, would reflect a revival of stone-arch technology. Under Brown's hand, contractors installed mainline stone-arch bridges at the rate of two or three a year, in sizes and varieties that ranged from a single arch to the majestic forty-eight-arch Rockville Bridge near Harrisburg.

Rockville Bridge Old & New
Credit: Courtesy of the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania, Operated by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission

The Rockville Bridge required the expertise of as many as 300 stonemasons, Italian immigrants or Italians who relocated from Curwensville in Clearfield County, site of some of Pennsylvania's largest quarries and source of much of the sandstone used in the bridge. Each of the forty-eight arches measured seventy feet long, and the four arches at each end gently curved to accommodate the swing of the tracks as they turned to parallel the river.

Today, many people call Rockville Bridge "the longest stone-arch bridge in the world," but that's only partly true—only the visible outer layer of its form is stone. The piers and spandrels (the area between the arches) are filled with concrete, making it technically a composite structure. In all, the bridge required not only 220,000 tons of stone but an estimated 600,000 barrels of cement. Measuring 3,820 feet long, it carries four tracks at an elevation fifty-two feet above the river's low-water mark. The price tag was $975,150. The bridge opened on March 30, 1902. Less than three months later, the railroad inaugurated the most famous regularly scheduled passenger train to use the structure: the overnight New York-Chicago Pennsylvania Special, which later became the Broadway Limited.

Rockville Bridge
Courtesy of Dan Cupper

Because the bridge was considered to be a military target, armed guards protected it during World Wars I and II. It got a boost of publicity in 1925 and 1926, and again in 1950, when PRR featured it on its widely known wall calendar series. The bridge withstood the flood of March 1936 and an even heavier assault from Tropical Storm Agnes in June 1972. By contrast, the 28-arch stone Shocks Mill Bridge, built thirty miles downstream by one of the two contractors who built Rockville, washed out in the Agnes flood.

In 1968, ownership of Rockville Bridge changed to Penn Central when PRR merged with the former New York Central Railroad. Penn Central went into bankruptcy in 1970, and became part of the government-backed rescue plan called Conrail in 1976. Conrail brought the railroad into the black, returning it to private investors in 1987.

Shortly after the PRR opened its now famous 4-track stone bridge in 1902, it demolished the double track iron bridge it had used since 1877
Credit: Courtesy of the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania
On August 19, 1997, the accumulated effect of repeated freeze-thaw cycles forced some of the bridge's stones out of alignment at Pier 19 (the nineteenth pier from the east shore). When a heavy coal train passed over the weakened spot, the south spandrel wall failed, sending tons of stone, rails, ties, and four 100-ton loaded hopper cars into the Susquehanna. The repair and cleanup cost about $1 million, approximately the original price of the entire bridge. Since then, crews have strengthened the structure with steel tie-rods and braces, a process that continued under the ownership of Norfolk Southern Corporation, which added this portion of Conrail to its system on June 1, 1999.

To the very end of the Pennsylvania Railroad's corporate existence, Rockville Bridge remained the largest of the company's 10,107 bridges. Though PRR built other large stone-arch bridges after Rockville, within a few years the construction industry had perfected the technology of reinforced concrete. Still later, pre-cast concrete sections and welded steel girders came into favor. As a result, the art and craft of the stone mason's skill fell into disuse, but remains spectacularly showcased at Rockville.

Dan Cupper, Rockville Bridge: Rails Across the Susquehanna (Halifax, PA: Withers Publishing, 2002).
Ed. Morgan, The Quarries of Curwenville: the People, the Legacy (NP, ND).
Henry O. Tyrell, History of Bridge Engineering (Chicago: 1911).
William Shank, Historic Bridges of Pennsylvania (York, PA: American Canal and Transportation Center, 1974).


We have been notified by our vendor that the Trio controller 206/206X, used in many of Joseph Machine Company machines, will be discontinued later this year. Inventory of this controller still remains; but JMC is taking a proactive approach in order to minimize the impact to you, our valued customer.

The discontinuing of the 206/206X will eventually require a conversion to the newer version Trio on affected machines. We recommend adding Trio controllers to your spare parts inventory. We encourage all customers to order replacement 206/206X Trio controllers over the next few weeks, to ensure availability as demand increases.

The conversion plan for replacing the current Trio with the new model (MC405) is complete. The plan involves the following:

  • Physically replace and re‐wire with the new TRIO controller

  • Re‐tune servo(s)

  • Update PLC and HMI programs


It is possible that some of the work required can be completed by plant maintenance personnel; but we recommend a JMC technician be onsite to complete the more technical aspects of the conversion.


Our goal during this time is to make this process as streamlined as possible. In order to manage this conversion properly, and to minimize the impact to the customer, we have assigned a team of resources. As stated above, this WILL require a JMC representative to be onsite. Through a combination of customer and JMC resources, it will be possible to perform the necessary work. In summary, we ask that customers do (2) things.


  1. Order replacement TRIO controllers in the short term

  2. Plan for a JMC technician to complete the conversion as time permits to minimize interruption of production

As always, we value our relationship and hope to work together to get through this conversion. As questions arise, please don’t hesitate to contact Glenn Lookabill This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or Patrick Myers This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Thank you in advance for your cooperation. Sincerely,

The Joseph Machine Company service team

Joseph Machine Company, located in Dillsburg, PA, is seeking candidates to join their manufacturing team.  JMC is a growing OEM of highly automated equipment; our saws and fabrication products are used by the best manufacturers in the window and door industry.

Position’s available: 

  • Sales Engineer (SEE BELOW)
  • Design Engineer with experience in SolidEdge or 3D equivalent
  • Electrical Technician / Wiring technician
  • Experienced CNC / Manual mill operator
  • Machine Assemblers
  • Experienced Field Service Tech’s

General Requirements: 

  • Must be capable of working around roadblocks, committed to meeting schedules
  • Individual must be able to multitask and able to adapt to customer driven changes
  • A work history with mechanical components and electrical control systems
  • Excellent problem solving and trouble shooting skills
  • Some travel required (10-15%)
  • Individual must be a team player
  • An interest in electro- mechanical equipment
  • Able to meet our physical fitness requirements

Joseph Machine Company offers commensurate wages, excellent benefits, matching 401K, profit sharing, Christmas bonus and a clean, safe, progressive work environment in an easily accessible rural location in northern York County. Respond with resume outlining your appropriate experience and salary history / requirements.  Fax to (717) 432-0680 or email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Sales Engineer

Joseph Machine Company, a premier OEM of custom equipment for the fenestration industry, has an immediate opening for a Sales Engineer for our east-coast territory. A minimum of three years, industry experience is required. Position will call on and manage new business, key accounts, generate leads, develop customer relationships and be responsible for achieving sales goals. A four year degree is preferred or technical sales experience commensurate with a degree. Thorough understanding of window manufacturing and, or an engineering background a plus.  Competitive salary & benefits, EOE. Contact email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., fax (717) 432-0680

Dillsburg, PA. (June 3rd, 2010)
– Joseph Machine Company (JMC), a national, leading OEM of automated saw and fabrication machines experiences mild earthquake during business hours:

At 8:25AM Thursday, June 3rd JMC's home base of Dillsburg PA, was hit by a light earthquake:

All of us felt it ...

Right away we all knew it was something out of the ordinary and not just a mild vibration of some machine. No one really knew for sure just what was going on in the first few seconds, but almost immediately thereafter the word "earthquake" began to be heard spreading across the shop floor. "It felt like a tank hit the building" said Jim Wicker, service technician at JMC.  The entire engineering staff spilled out of their cubicles from the second floor to view the shop floor area, perhaps in an effort to try and sort out what just happened.

Folks like engineer Brad Rick and CNC operator Randy Krysher thought that maybe a truck had run into the building or backed into it very hard. Still others like Brad Good thought perhaps a forklift hit a close-by wall. Charlie Wentz was operating a forklift at the time and did not feel the jolt..."I was wondering what everyone was flipping out about" said Charlie.

Within seconds everyone realized that this was much more than something slamming into the building. This was an earthquake. No one was hurt, and no damage was reported ...but for many of us this was the first earthquake we have ever experienced.
Felt at least 10 miles away, the earthquake registered 3.1. Nearby JMC neighbor and Dillsburg resident Ron Gingrich was quoted as saying "if that was a 3.1, I would hate to know what it was like to feel one any stronger".

Dillsburg, PA.  (March 17, 2010) 

On Tuesday March 2, 2010 we received our first PC with Windows 7 installed.  With considerable trepidation, the packing tape was removed from the top of the shipping box and the computer was extracted from the protective shipping material.  After attaching the monitor, keyboard, mouse, and then plugging in the computer, the power button was pressed with crossed fingers.  The PC hummed to life and judgment day began.

There was a lot of anticipation for this day; because today was the day we would get the answer to our biggest question: will our current JMC FabRight software work on Windows 7, or will we have to rewrite the code in one of the newer .Net languages.  The latter being a very expensive and time consuming endeavor.  We were expecting the worse after hearing about all the issues people have had with Windows Vista.

With the computer up and running, the jump drive was inserted into the USB port and the JMC FabRight install program was launched.  After a few button clicks, the install program successfully completed its tasks.  The program was installed on a Windows 7 PC.  Now was the moment of truth.  Will the program actually run on Windows 7?

With our fingers still crossed, the “JMCSaw” desktop shortcut was clicked.  The Splash Screen with the Joseph Machine Company Logo appeared, and the progress bar started tracking the programs initialization progress.  The Splash Screen then vanished and the “JMC FabRight” Main Menu Screen appeared.   With a sigh of relief, we realized that there was hope that it might just work.

Then, the process of testing every function of the software began.  The functionality of all the screens inside the Tech Menu was tested first.  With a great deal of surprise, we discovered that everything worked as it was designed.  The HMI had successfully connected to the PLC.  The inputs and outputs of the PLC could be monitored and toggled, and the system settings had been successfully saved to and read from the PLC.

Now the testing began on the Cut File Editor Screen were the main operation of the machine occurs.   Here is where a few problems did occur.  The program seemed to have trouble creating a new CSV production file and displaying a Positions file.  This issue had us stumped for a little bit, but we soon discovered that the program works correctly when it is set to run as administrator.

Now, with our program working correctly, we decided to move on and test our third party software to ensure that all of those programs worked correctly on Windows 7.  After some thorough testing, we can confidently say that everything is working just fine.

So, with our spirits high, we are happy to say that we can give two thumbs up to the Windows 7 operating system, with regards to the functionality of our machine software here at JMC.  With this potential obstacle out of the way, we look forward to shipping our PC controlled machines, in the near future, with Windows 7. Thinking about our past experiences with newer Microsoft operating systems, it may be okay for us not to hate Microsoft for Windows 7.

     Charles Smith (Systems programmer @ JMC)

Dillsburg, Pa., (Jan 14, 2010) – Joseph Pigliacampo of Joseph Machine Company shares his famous ‘Beans Jambalaya’ recipe

Previously sworn to secrecy, the word is out.

Joe has finally let everyone in on the secret ingredients to his mouth watering ‘Beans Jambalaya’. This is a soup for which he has become famous. For the past dozen years or so, Joe has prepared the Christmas celebration luncheon for the JMC employees that has now become an annual tradition. Among the meatball subs, assorted chicken wings and other tasty treats, Joe’s Bean Jambalaya soup has rightfully taken its place in the spotlight.