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Northampton and surrounding areas of the Lehigh Valley are rich in limestone, which is commonly used in the production of cement. The Atlas Portland Cement Company, based here from 1895 to 1982, was the world's largest cement company at one time, and one of dozens in the area. It produced some eight million barrels of cement for construction of the Panama Canal, which included most of the cement used on the canal's construction. Atlas was bought by another company in 1980 and ceased operation here in 1982; its last smokestack here was demolished in 1993. Currently, technology and automation mean that the cement industry can manufacture a great amount of product with 150-200 workers, rather than the thousands who were required to work in these plants in the first half of the 20th century.
The Atlas Memorial Cement Museum was opened in 1997 in Northampton, Pa. It was founded by Edward Pany, who worked at the company in summers during the 1950s.