George H. (George Henry) Thurston.

Allegheny county's hundred years online

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about fifty tons."

The Spang Steel & Iron Co. say :

" In reply to your inquiry as to the capacity of our mill to produce armor
plates, we are pleased to say that quickly we could supply plates — say at the rate
of 50 to 75 tons daily, 15 to 18 inches thick, 96 to 100 inches wide, and say 30 to
40 feet long."


Shoenberger & Co. say:

"In reply to your inquiry as to the capacity of our large plate mill, we would
say that our rolls are 112 inches long by 31 inches in diameter, and that we can
roll plates 100 inches wide by 200 inches long, and turn out 100 tons per day.
Should the government desire armor plates, we can roll them from a steel ingot 32
inches thick down to any thickness desired."

The following offer was submitted to the Commission by Moorhead & Co., of

this city :

" We are prepared to furnish immediately, or within one month from receipt
of order, plate wholly of charcoal hammered bloom iron, or of steel, homogenous
in character, or of combined hard and soft steel, as may be required, say up to 7J
feet in width and 12 inches in thickness, and in weight up to 30,000 pounds each.
We are now prepared to deliver 50 tons of plate of the above sizes per day."

Jones & Laughlin, Limited, in a statement through Mr. B. F. Jones, the senior

member, say :

" In my judgment there is no better place in the United States to make armor
plates and ordnance than Pittsburgh. The best materials in the country and the
most skillful mechanics in the world are attracted here. I have examined Krupp's
and other celebrated ordnance and armor-plate works abroad, and I do not hesi-
tate to say that they cannot only be matched, but can be surpassed."

The Pittsburgh Bessemer Steel Company, now Carnegie, Phipps & Co., Lim-
ited, says:

"The plate mill we are noAV building will contain a train that will roll plates
about 9} feet wide and any reasonable length. As to thickness, it will take an in-
got 14 inches thick and reduce it to any thickness down to I inch. Capacity per
day, 100 tons."

Park Bros. & Co. made the following reply :

"We can cast an ingot weighing 30 tons, and can work such ingot under our
hammer. Our mill has rolls 115 inches long, and we can finish plates, say | to §-
inch in thickness, 104 inches wide, and say 30 or 40 feet long."

The Pittsburgh Steel Casting Company submit the following with regard to
their capacity :

"We can successfully cast a gun ingot of steel up to 100 tons weight, that
would meet all requirements fully as well as any of foreign make. This would
require a longer time than the casting of the 44-ton ingot, which we affirmed
could be completed by the 1st of July, 1886, but it could be done within a year.
The largest casting made to this date at our works is 18,000 pounds, and as to
largest size it is only a question of dollars and cents."

In these pages, intended merely as a running history of the manufacturing pro-
gress of Allegheny county during its hundred years of existence, only its represen-
tive classes are presented at length, as illustrative of the progress made. To men-
tion all of the ramifications into which the manufacturing of iron and steel run,
would render this volume simply a trade catalogue, instead of a general history.
There are however some of Pittsburgh's manufacturers that are in themselves
such exemplifications of progress and the present status of the industries of the-


county, that they call for brief mention. Prominent among these is the great
steel rail mill at Braddock, known as the Edgar Thomson Steel Works, some
mention of which has already been made in the preceding pages.

The above named works for the production of steel rails is a specialty among
the steel works of Pittsburgh, being constructed and worked solely for the making
of rails. They are situated at Bessemer, eleven miles east of Pittsburgh, and are
connected with the main line of the Pennsylvania railroad, with the Pittsburgh
division of the Baltimore and Ohio railroad, and the main line of the Pittsburgh,
McKeesport and Youghiogheny railroad. Through these connections they com-
mand for transportation facilities the entire railroad system west and south, while
the Monongahela river, on which the company's grounds front for 3000 feet, gives
facilities for water carriage to and from its very doors over the whole Ohio and
Mississippi system of navigation. In their location these works are a most ad-
mirable illustration of those receptive and distributive facilities enjoyed by Pitts-
burgh manufactories.

The capacity of furnaces now running is 900 tons of pig metal ; and of the steel
department, 900 tons of ingots, and 700 tons of rails per twenty-four hours. The
works employ 2500 hands. Seventeen locomotives are required to do the yard
transportation of the entire works. There are twenty-eight miles of railroad track,
mostly of standard gauge. The amount of ground covered by buildings is almost
eleven acres. Entire works require fifteen million gallons of water every twenty-
four hours.

Likewise an establishment for the making of elliptic and spiral steel springs^
These works were originally started in this city by Mr. Aaron French in 1865, in a
small shop on Liberty street, opposite the Union depot. Some years later a part-
nership was formed by Mr. French with Mr. Calvin Wells, under the firm name
of A. French & Co. That firm continued the manufacture of elliptic railway
springs only until July 24, 1884. The Culmer Spring Co. was started in 1873 for*
the purpose of manufacturing spiral springs, and they continued the business until
April, 1881, when they were bought out by the parties who'formed the French
Spiral Spring Co., Limited. This company continued until July 24th, 1884, when
they formed the company of the A. French Spring Co., Limited, the earlier com-
pany of A. French & Co. being also merged in the new company, which was
formed to manufacture springs of all descriptions, and the present prosperous
conditition of the works indicates that the combination was a step in the right

The A. French Spring Co., Limited, is at present, doubtless, the largest con-
cern in the world engaged exclusively in the manufacture of springs. It has double
the capacity of any similar concern in the United States, having three mills.

The Iron Bridge Building

business, as carried on at Pittsburgh, is also one of the massive industries of the city.
Be it a complete blast furnace or a steel mill, an iron ship, or a 20,000 pound
cannon, nothing to be constructed of iron draws too heavily upon the resources of


Pittsburgh, or presents obstacles to her skilful mechanics, nor is there any iron
work of however so great magnitude whose construction they do not engage in.
That, therefore, companies should have been formed in Pittsburgh for iron bridge
building is not to be wondered at, nor the magnitude of the structures they build.
There are in this city four companies and firms engaged in this industry.

The oldest and chief of these iron bridge constructionists is the Keystone Bridge
Company, which was established in 1860 by ShefHer & Piper, but was organized as
a company in 1865. The magnitude of their-business and consequent facilities of
their works is best expressed by the fact that they have constructed fifty-one miles
of bridges, and thirty miles in the last ten years. Those who have crossed the
bridge at St. Louis over the Mississippi, or the one at Havre de Grasse across the
Susquehanna, built entirely of Bessemer steel, have some idea of the massive work
done by this company, by whom these bridges were built.

Not only has this Pittsburgh engineering ability, and capital and mechanical
skill, thrown roads of steel across the rivers of the United States, but they have
also arched those of foreign countries. The Keystone Bridge Company having, in
1887, constructed ten iron bridges for the government of Brazil.

The company employs an average of 600 hands at their works at 51st and
Harrison streets, which have an area of between 6 and 7 acres, and an annual
capacity of 18,000 tons finished work. The wages disbursed by them will average
from 1360,000 to $400,000 a year, and the value of the output of the works in the
past ten or twelve years has been over $23,000,000.

The second in this division of this industry is the Pittsburgh Bridge Company.
Their works, which have an area of one acre, have a capacity of 5,000 to 6,000
tons a year, and employs 150 hands, whose wages will average $60,000 annually.
This company has constructed some important work. One viaduct bridge of 1,200
tons, a suspended centlever bridge over Logan avenue, St. Louis, and some bridges
for the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad, and furnished work for
the new Court House of Allegheny county, of which a pictorial illustration and
verbal description is given in this volume.

There are two other bridge building establishments. One, the Iron City Bridge
Works, established in 1856, by C. J. Schultz ; the other, the Sheffler Bridge Com-
pany, J. W. Walker.

As no statistics of the work of these last two firms could be had, the presenta-
tion of bridge building at Pittsburgh is incomplete. What has been given, how-
ever, show that Pittsburgh iron and steel bridge builders are prepared and able to
bridge the rivers of the world.

The manufacturing of

Wrought Iron Pipe

is also one of the more important industries of Allegheny county. In addition to
the works at Pittsburgh, there is also at McKeesport the largest iron pipe manu-
factory in the United States. This industry had its beginning in Allegheny county
nearly half a century ago, when the making of wrought pipe was begun by Spang


& Co., in 1840, which firm was succeeded in 1856 by Spang, Chalfant & Co. In
1864 A. M. Byers & Co. established the second works of this kind. In 1866 another
was put in operation by Evans, Clow, Dalzell & Co., who were succeeded by Evans,
Dalzell & Co. This firm having financially failed their works passed into the
possession of the Pennsylvania Tube Works.

In 1871 Wm. Graff & Co. also established another tube works at Herr's Island,
Allegheny City, these subsequently passing into the possession of Khodes & Porter

(Joshua Rhodes and Porter), Mr. Rhodes becoming subsequently interested

in the Pennsylvania Tube Works, which, as before stated, came into the owner-
ship of the works of Evans, Dalzell & Co.

In 1879 the National Tube Works were built at McKeesport by the National
Tube Works Company. In 1884 the Continental Tube Works Company built ex-
tensive works in the Twenty-third ward of Pittsburgh, the firm style being sub-
sequently changed to Continental Tube Works, limited. In 1885 the Pittsburgh
Tube Works were built by the Pittsburgh Tube Company.

The facilities at Pittsburgh for manufacturing this article are not approachable
at any other point. That covers the subject without further words, as a considera-
tion of the facts given in the various remarks in this volume as to the iron, steel
and fuel resources of the city demonstrates. Iron tubing from ^ inch to 16 inches
in diameter is made at all the mills engaged in this class of manufactures, and
two-thirds of all the iron tubing made in the Middle States is the product of the
tube works of Allegheny county.

This class of manufactures in Pittsburgh is in advance of the quality and
mechanism of any of their product in any other part of the world, not excepting
England. Orders for the products of these works are filled in sharp competition
with the bids of European plants, large quantities being lately shipped to Russia
and also Canada, at which point Pittsburgh makers are not only able to pay the
duties, but still undersell the English houses.

The capacity of these six mills is about 180,000 tons, and the area of ground
occupied by them approximates fifteen acres, and the value of the plants is esti-
mated at $4,000,000. They employ an average of 2,500 hands running full, which
they are now doing up to their capacity, and distribute wages to the amount of
between $1,200,000 and $1,400,000. The value of the output of these mills is from
$8,000,000 to $9,000,000.

Bolts and Nuts

is another important branch of the iron business of Pittsburgh ; there are in the
city seven factories. The manufacture of these articles originated in Pittsburgh.

In 1845 or 1846 William Kenyon, of Steubenville, Ohio, invented a machine
for cutting and pressing a nut at one operation; the right of which invention
was purchased by Haigh, Hartupee & Co. from him in 1850, who then applied as
his assignees for a patent, which was granted shortly after. Some period after
the time mentioned as the date of Kenyon's invention Isaac H. Steer constructed
dies for a similar purpose.


In the spring of 1850 the first machine for that purpose was built by Henrjr
Carter and James Kees. Henry Carter then purchased the right of Isaac H.
Steer, and obtained letters patent, both on the invention of Steer and of Carter
& Eees.

In April, 1856, James Kees disposed of his interest in the manufacture tO'
Henry Carter, who at the same time formed a co-partnership with Charles Knap,
then of the Fort Pitt Foundry, under the style of Knap & Carter, Charles Knap
having purchased one-half of the patent for the territory west of the Allegheny
Mountains. On the 1st of January, 1857, they associated with them John W.
Butler, the style of the firm being Knap, Carter & Co., from which firm the
Standard Nut Company proceeds.

In 1863 Lewis, Oliver & Phillips established the second of these works in Pitts-
burgh ; in 1871 the Pittsburgh Manufacturing Company another ; in 1875 Charles.
& McMurtry another, which firm subsequently became Wm. Charles & Co. In
1876 F. M. Haslet & Co. embarked in the business, the firm being succeeded by
Charles B. Head, and in 1882 Marland & Neely, subsequently Marland, Neely &
Co., limited.

These manufacture all descriptions of bolts and nuts, and employ, running full,
about 600 hands, whose wages amount to something over $300,000. The workg
occupy over four acres of ground, and the value of the plants in buildings, ma*
chinery and ground is estimated to be from |400,000 to |450,000. One of these
firms, Oliver Bros. & Phillips, however, employ a larger proportion of their hands
in the manufacture of heavy hardware.

The others produce bolts and nuts exclusively, except the Pittsburgh Manufac-
turing Company, who manufacture besides bolts a variety of specialties of iron
and make a specialty of making nail and spike machines.

As everyone knows what bolts and nuts are and their use, nothing descriptive
is required to be said. Wherever construction work is being done these useful
products of Allegheny county's manufactures are doing their share of the work in
the world's progress. There is much food for thought in the facts, that even this
condensed exhibit of Allegheny county's industries present, in the reflections that
naturally arise as to the important part their products are playing in the progress
of the whole country, and the great supply point the county is for the nation. It
is most diflicult to realize that it is but a hundred years since the whole value of
the county's manufacturing products was tiiumphantly announced at $350,000,
and that they are now, in fact, approaching as many millions, and the mental
question naturally arises, what will be their bulk when Allegheny county cele-
brates its duo-centennial ?

The making of Axes, Shovels, Sav^^s and other iron tools is likewise a prom-
inent division of the manufacturing products of Pittsburgh, and so far as the two-
former articles are in question, their production dates back to the beginning of
the century and William Porter. As early as 1803, "augers, chisels, planing bits^
drawing-knives, etc.," to the value of $1,000 are mentioned in "A View of the
Manufacturing Trade of Pittsburgh" in Oi^amer's Almanack of 1804, and in 1808


in a similar enumeration, "Ironmongery," as the term then was for axes, ham-
mers, hoes, and such articles, is mentioned as being produced to the value of
$15,000, and in an account of the manufacturers of the city in 1817, "collected by
-direction of the Councils," there are six tool-makers recorded, producing |63,100
worth of tools and employing eighteen hands.

In 1836, Lippincott & Bros, and Kings, Higby & Anderson manufactured 8,000
dozen shovels and spades, 1,600 dozen hoes, and 600 dozen saws, and Oren Waters,
on Chartiers creek, and Ephriam Estep, at Lawrence ville, in the same year, made
axes, shovels and spades to the amount of $90,000. In 1856 there were four firms
in this branch of the county's industries, who used $440,006 of materials, and
paid wages to the amount of $231,660, and produced 100,590 dozens of axes,
shovels, hoes, picks and mattocks, of a value of $823,742.

In that year J. Holmes & Co., who were the successors of J. Holmes, who
established the business in 1840, was the oldest firm, and Postley, Nelson & Co.,
ivho succeeded Nelson & Morgan, established in 1843, were the next oldest. New-
'meyer & Graff, who succeeded Dawson, Newmeyer & Co., established in 1854, and
Lippincott & Co., established in 1847, were the other two. Of this latter firm the
^rm of Hubbard & Co. is the direct successor through several changes of firms,
vthe other firms having died and left no " sign."

There are now eight extensive manufacturing plants for the making of what
may be technically classified as " tools," although there are several others making
special articles in a limited way, some of which are noted in these pages under
the special heads, or are products of works whose main business is of other classes.

The establishments which follow the business distinctively employ over 1,000
liands, to whom they pay annually an average of from $500,000 to $550,000 wages,
;and their products are of the value of about $1,500,000.

For the mechanics of Pittsburgh to build the engines, to make the rolls, to
forge the beams or girders, or do any or all of the separate details of an iron plant
has been for years among their avocations, but it remained for the later years of
•the development of the county to grow establishments which would produce a
blast furnace or steel plant complete in all its magnitude and all details as readily
as in former years any one essential to its construction. While, as before observed,
there have been, as there are now, establishments in Pittsburgh whose facilities
for the production of the various machinery or forged materials of furnaces and
iron and steel plants are of great magnitude, yet there are now several establish-
iments whose specialty is to manufacture, if that term may be used, as a whole,
blast furnaces, iron and steel plants, and deliver them over to their proprietors in
running condition and order with as much comparative ease as though it were a
cooking stove. This branch of business was established at Pittsburgh in 1876 by
James P. Witherow. The statistics, as a whole, of this industry are not to be col-
lected, for various reasons. Its bulk is partly shown by the statement that the
•one firm by whom the business was originated in Pittsburgh have transactions
^hat exceed $1,000,000 a year.


The Foundries of Pittsburgh

rank next in the iron industries of the city. In this is necessarily embraced the?
engine and machine works of Pittsburgh, as many of them have extensive foun-
dries as component parts of their establishments.

Somewhat of the early history of the establishment of the foundry industry of
Pittsburgh is mentioned in the opening statements of this chapter on the iron in-
dustries of this city, and would be but a repetition to here recite. It is sufficient
to say that the first iron foundry established in Pittsburgh was in 1803 by Joseph
McClurg, of which in its general business the firm of A. Garrison & Co. is the di-
rect successors. The famous Fort Pitt Cannon Foundry was also a constructive
successor, as in the casting of cannon Joseph McClurg made the guns for Perry'a
fleet in the war of 1812, and Cramer's Almanac in 1810 mentions this foundry a»
having "lately cast seventy tons cannon balls for the United States." And the
Fort Pitt Foundry, in the important part they took in the casting of shot and
shell and cannon during the Civil War, were in that fairly constructive successors-
in that product.

The foundry was originally located on the corner of Fifth avenue and Smith-
field street, on the lot where now stands the Custom House, and was established'
by Joseph McClurg in 1803, In the seventy years of its existence its operations
have been conducted by several firms, among which were Knap & Totten, Knap^
Wade & Co., Knap, Rudd & Co., The Knap Fort Pitt Foundry Co., Chas. Knap,,
and Chas. Knap's Nephews. The cannon foundry is now dismantled, and the
buildings and ground occupied by Mackintosh, Hemphill & Co. It needs but the
government, however, to require similar service to revive it. Pittsburgh founders
of to day are as skilful, and more so, than twenty-five years ago.

The foundry business ranks second in the iron business of Pittsburgh in the
amount of capital invested. The variety of their staple castings is large ; and
there is no description of foundry work which the skill, facilities and resources of
the firms engaged in the business does not justify them in undertaking.

With the increase and growth of Pittsburgh in the past two decades the foun-
dry business, as a class, had gradually sub-divided itself until its various branches,,
which may be classified as general foundries, stove foundries, heavy machine foun-
dries, light machine foundries, steam engines, machine shops with foundries, en-
gine factories without foundries, engineers, iron founders, machinists, roll foundries,,
and malleable iron foundries.

In the gradual progress of the foundry business in Allegheny county the mak-
ing of steam engines and other machinery became an adjunct to the operations of
many foundries, and in like manner cupalos of greater or less capacity were added
to the machine shops, which, therefore, renders it difficult to separate them in their
individualities in any historic tracing of the successive establishments. In many
cases the engine building part of the plants were eliminated from the foundry, and
in others the foundry division of the business was disposed of to a new firm, accord-
ing as either division of this class of the iron industry increased in volume.


The first foundry established in the western counties of Pennsylvania was at
Jacob's creek, in Westmoreland county, in 1790, by Turnbull & Marmie. "Mar-
mie " was a Frenchman, a former secretary of Lafayette. The foundry was not a
success financially, and there is a wild legend connected with it touching the fate
of the young Frenchman. Fonder of deer hunting and other field sports than of
business, he gave much of his time to the former, and, as the legend is told, when
financial ruin came to the firm, Marmie, hopeless and despondent, resorted to a
Frenchman's road out of the calamity, — suicide. R. P. Nevin, in his " Les Trois
Eois," tells graphically of the legend thus, " calling his hounds he assembled them
on the bridge that led to the mouth of the furnace. With whip and halloo he urged
and scourged, driving them towards it. The pack, trembling in dismay, with wildly
glaring eyes looked now at the fire blazing from the pit, now at the face of their
master, then seized as seemed by the reflection of his madness, started and bouiided
forward, straight through the scorching heat, plunged headlong into the open
throat of the hell before them. Their tyrant tarried not behind, but with a cry,
— the cry in wild repeat of that with which he used to cheer them in the chase —
followed on their track, and rushing to its brink flung himself after them into the
burning hole. The fires of the furnace died out and were never kindled again."
Mr. Nevin gives the partners associated with Marmie in the foundry as Halker
and Turner, two dealers in metal and hollow ware of Philadelphia. Other
authorities give a Mr. Turnbull as Marraie's partner. The metal of the blast
furnace, which it really was, for the making of pig metal, was used to cast pots,
sugar kettles, and similar wares, so that the establishment appears to have been a

Online LibraryGeorge H. (George Henry) ThurstonAllegheny county's hundred years → online text (page 22 of 43)