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Born in New York state in 1812, John Griffen spent most of his adult life in Phoenixville with the Phoenix Iron Company. His knowledge of engineering and his creativity produced many improvements in the iron industry in the middle of the 19th Century. In 1854 he invented what became known as the three inch ordnance rifle. A very reliable gun, during the 1860s the United States Army bought 1,000 of them from the Phoenix Iron Company.

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