History’s Headlines: Leonard Parker Pool’s empire of gas | History’s Headlines

Who in the Lehigh Valley has not heard of Air Products, the multinational corporation that recently moved to a new headquarters and is almost as closely identified with the area as Bethlehem Steel once was? Thanks to the many philanthropic ties it has with the health field, it is also well known in that sector. But the story of how it all started, and its visionary founder Leonard Parker Pool, is not as well-known as it once was.

“Invent a better mouse trap and the world will beat a path to your door,” so the old axiom goes. Thomas Edison gave us the light bulb, Alexander Graham Bell the telephone and Leonard Pool a revolution in the use of industrial gases that, coupled with a superior sense of salesmanship that didn’t take no for an answer, and a visionary self-confidence, led to Air Products.

Pool’s midwestern family’s roots were in railroads. His grandfather, Ira G. Pool, was superintendent of the Soo Railroad shops in Minneapolis, a…

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