State troopers posing with riot guns, Farrell, PA, 1919.
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Seven policemen posed with riot guns.

Credit: Library of Congress

During the 1919 steel strike, the state police cemented their reputation among steelworkers as the Pennsylvania "Cossacks," for their heavy-handed use of force in favor of the steel mills. Farrell, in Mercer County, had grown up around the Sharon Steel Company, part of the U.S. Steel's "Big Steel" empire since 1902. Founded as South Sharon in 1900, the town had taken the name of Farrell in 1912, in honor of James A. Farrell, then president of the United States Steel Corporation.

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