Stories from PA History
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Making Steel
For just over 100 years, Pennsylvania was truly "the steel capital of the world." Making steel was a great drama of wealth and poverty, of soaring skyscrapers and gritty mill towns, of the clash between the imperatives of profit and human dignity. Pennsylvania's steel built the Brooklyn Bridge, the George Washington Bridge, the Chrysler Building and the Empire State building.

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Bring this subject into focus through the following chapters. These stories take exploration of the main story further by providing more detail for you to learn and explore.

Overview: "Making Steel"
Chapter 1: Masters and Men
Chapter 2: Steel City and Mill Towns
Chapter 3: Building a Union
Chapter 4: Waves of Technology

Historical Markers In the Story
marker icon National Tube Works (Allegheny) marker icon 1909 McKees Rocks Strike (Allegheny)
marker icon Allegheny Portage Railroad (Cambria) marker icon Alliance Furnace [Steel] (Fayette)
marker icon Andrew Carnegie [Steel] (Allegheny) marker icon Bethlehem (Northampton)
marker icon Bost Building [1892 Homestead Strike] (Allegheny) marker icon Cambria City (Cambria)
marker icon Charles M. Schwab (Cambria) marker icon Coke Ovens [Steel] (Fayette)
marker icon Dravo Corporation [Steel] (Allegheny) marker icon Duquesne Steel Works (Allegheny)
marker icon Eugene Gifford Grace (Northampton) marker icon Fannie Sellins (Westmoreland)
marker icon First Steel (Cambria) marker icon First Steel Rails [Steel] (Cambria)
marker icon Founding Convention of the AFL (Allegheny) marker icon Founding Convention of the CIO (Allegheny)
marker icon Founding of Ironworkers Union (Allegheny) marker icon Frances Perkins (Allegheny)
marker icon Freedom Forge (Mifflin) marker icon Gifford Pinchot [Great Depression] (Pike)
marker icon Henry Clay Frick [Pgh office] (Allegheny) marker icon Henry Clay Frick [birthplace] (Westmoreland)
marker icon Henry Noll (1871-1925) (Northampton) marker icon Homestead Strike (Allegheny)
marker icon Homestead Strike Victims (Allegheny) marker icon John F. Fritz [birthplace] (Chester)
marker icon John F. Fritz [engineer] (Northampton) marker icon Johnstown [Steel] (Cambria)
marker icon Mary Harris "Mother Jones" [Steel] (Allegheny) marker icon Morewood Massacre (Westmoreland)
marker icon NLRB v. Jones and Laughlin Supreme Court Ruling (Beaver) marker icon Philadelphia [Steel] (Philadelphia)
marker icon Pittsburgh (Steel) (Allegheny) marker icon Seamless Tube Industry (Lawrence)
marker icon The Great Steel Strike of 1919 (Allegheny) marker icon The Roeblings (Butler)
marker icon United Steelworkers of America (Allegheny) marker icon Vandergrift (Westmoreland)

Lesson Plans for this Story
Take your students back in history with these discussions and activities for the classroom

Story Bibliography

Original Documents
icon full text Alexander Holley's description of a Bessemer blow, 1865.
icon full text Arthur Burgoyne, "After the Battle," Homestead, 1893.
icon full text Arthur Burgoyne, On the Battle of Homestead, 1893.
icon full text Foreign Born Population in Johnstown City (1900-1980)
icon full text Herbert N. Casson, "The Era of Machinery," 1907.
icon full text Herbert N. Casson, "The Rise of Andrew Carnegie," 1907.
icon full text Herbert N. Casson, "Work Men Partners of Carnegie: Steps in Rise of C.M. Schwab," 1907.
icon full text Herbert N. Casson, "The Carnegie Company Under Frick," 1907.
icon full text Herbert N. Casson,"The Future of Steel," 1907.
icon full text Herbert N. Casson, "Morgan and US Steel Corporation," 1907.
icon full text Herbert N. Casson, "'Bill Jones Steps upon the Stage," 1907.
icon full text John Fitch, On the Repression of Steel Workers in Western Pennsylvania, 1910.
icon full text African American Population in Western Pennsylvania Milltowns, 1910-1930.
icon full text "Working Rules," International Association of Bridge, Structural, and Ornamental Iron Workers, 1914.
icon full text Mary Harris Jones, "The Steel Strike of 1919," The Autobiography of Mother Jones, 1925.
icon full text Charles Walker, from Steel: A Diary of a Furnace Worker, 1922.
icon full text James J. Davis, excerpts from The Iron Puddler: My Life in the Rolling Mills and What Came of It , 1922.
icon full text Charles Walker, "Blast Furnace," 1922.
icon full text Narrative of an unnamed rank and file union leader, 1940.
icon full text Employment in the Steel Industry, by country, 1980-2003.
icon full text Ranking of Major Steel Producing Countries, 2010.

1848 Andrew Carnegie and family emigrate to US, settle in Pittsburgh
1860 Lehigh Valley Railroad founds Bethlehem Iron; managers hire John Fritz from Cambria
1865 Andrew Carnegie "retires" from Pennsylvania Railroad and takes up career as investor and capitalist
1875 Carnegie opens Edgar Thomson steel rail mill, in Braddock, Pennsylvania
1876 Amalgamated Association of Iron, Steel, and Tin Workers founded
1877 Railroad strike in Pittsburgh
1883 Carnegie buys rival Homestead Steel Works (built 1881)
1886 Founding of American Federation of Labor led by Samuel Gompers
1891 Carnegie buys rival Duquesne Steel Works (built 1886)
1892 Homestead strike at Carnegie
1899 Carnegie reorganizes his several steel companies to form Carnegie Steel; annual profit next year reaches $40 million
1901 Banker J.P. Morgan forms U.S. Steel Corporation from Carnegie holdings; strike in steel industry
1904 Charles Schwab merges Bethlehem with United States Shipbuilding Co. to form Bethlehem Steel Corp.
1917 Pittsburgh area supplies 80% of the munitions steel during World War I
1917 - 1918 U.S. in World War I; forms (temporary) War Labor Board
1919 Three-month nationwide steel strike; "red scare"; deaths of both Andrew Carnegie and Henry Clay Frick
1925 U.S.S. Lexington, America's first aircraft carrier, launched at Bethlehem's Fore River (Quincy, Mass.) shipyard
1929 Stock Market crashes; Great Depression begins
1931 Bethlehem Steel forms Fabricated Steel Construction division from McClintic-Marshall erecting company
1932 Franklin D. Roosevelt elected president
1933 President Roosevelt signs National Industrial Recovery Act, setting up industrial "codes" with labor-friendly section 7(a)
1933 Pennsylvania unemployment reaches 37%
1935 John L. Lewis forms Congress of Industrial Organizations
1935 National Labor Relations Act (Wagner Act) passes, giving workers the right to bargain collectively
1936 CIO forms Steel Workers Organizing Committee in Pittsburgh, headed by Philip Murray
1937 SWOC signs contract with Carnegie-Illinois division of U.S. Steel
1937 Memorial Day massacre in Chicago's Republic Steel plant during "Little Steel" strike
1937 Supreme Court upholds 1935 Wagner Act in NLRB v. Jones and Laughlin Steel Corp.
1941 U.S. enters World War II; U.S. government forces Bethlehem Steel to recognize SWOC union; at wartime peak Bethlehem employs 300,000
1942 SWOC becomes United Steelworkers of America; Philip Murray elected president
1945 World War II ends
1947 Congress passes Taft-Hartley Act restricting union activities
1950 Pittsburgh city population peaks at 677,000; Korean War begins
1952 President Truman intervenes in national steel strikes
1953 David J. McDonald becomes president of USWA
1955 Merger of the AFL and CIO
1959 540,000 steelworkers begin 116-day strike, longest in industry's history
1964 Bethlehem opens large Burns Harbor, Indiana, complex; installs first BOF furnaces at Lackawanna, NY.
1965 I.W. Abel elected president of USWA
1975 Bethlehem operates first "continuous caster" at Burns Harbor Mill
1976 Bethlehem Steel closes Fabricated Steel Construction division, owned since 1931
1982 Bethlehem Steel begins shutdown of Lackawanna Steel in Buffalo, New York
1986 U.S. Steel, having bought Marathon Oil in 1982, changes name to "USX Corporation"
1991 Walt Disney Co. replaces USX Corp. in Dow Jones Industrial Average
1992 Bethlehem Steel shuts down Cambria plant at Johnstown
1995 Bethlehem Steel begins shutdown of flagship steelmaking plant in Bethlehem
1997 Bethlehem Steel dropped from Dow Jones Industrial Average
2000 Bethlehem Steel dropped from S and P 500 Index of leading companies
2001 United States Steel reorganized as free-standing corporation, independent from Marathon Oil
2003 Bethlehem Steel ends corporate existence, assets purchased by International Steel Group
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