Friday, February 19, 2016

US Steel: Edgar Thomson Works in Braddock, PA

Craig Sturge on posted in Facebook

I normally don't do eastern towns because I will probably never do a "field trip" there. But there is so much industry in this picture that I wanted to record it. In addition to the USS Edgar Thomson steel mill, it has "bottle" (hot metal) cars, a lock, and an impressive concrete arch bridge.

The notes on Homestead and Braddock Works has information on how production was divided amongst these works.
Bird's Eye
Bird's Eye

William David posted
Here's another pretty interesting resource
John Groves: That is an outstanding map of ET, circa 1890, showing the first 9 BFs.I'm not familiar with that map source. Have you found any other steel mill maps?
Tom Harvey
These have some good maps of ET and I assume other plants in them:

The 176-acre Edgar Thomson Steel Works was Andrew Carnegie's 1875 plant that used the Kelly (Bessemer) process to manufacture steel, particularly railroad rails. "The Homestead plant was the first in the country to install the open-hearth furnace (a method of removing impurities from pig iron that was more efficient and easier to control than the Bessemer process) and eventually became one of the company’s largest....Though US Steel threatened every now and again to shutter the plant [Thomson Works], instead, in 1992, the company installed a $250 million continuous caster, which converts liquid steel directly into slabs....Families that have called Braddock home for generations are still suffering its environmental consequences in the form of asthma, cancer, and other diseases. It’s impossible to escape the shadow of Edgar Thomson." [topic]

[I can tell by the lock that this is the Thomson Works.]

This topo map taught me where Kennywood Park is. I've been there, but I didn't do the driving so I didn't know where it was in the Pittsburgh area. I remember that a roller coaster went down a steep, naturally formed, hill. I see from the topo lines that it was a river bluff.
1953 Braddock Quadrangle @ 1:24,000

Marc Reed posted
Edgar Thompson Works, Braddock, PA 1890s. Photographer unknown.
Thank you @Mike Froio for identifying the photographer as Williams H. Rau
Robert Morris: ET was the only mill that Carnegie built all the rest were acquired by him.
Mike Froio commented on Marc's post
Photographer is Williams H Rau, this was part of a series of commissions he did for the Pennsylvania Railroad to illustrate the railroad, it’s scenery, industry and destinations for the Colombian Exposition in 1893. It’s phenomenal body of work, part of which was published by UPenn Press in a book called Traveling the Pennsylvania..
An opposing view from the south banks of the Mon River.
Rau was a big influence on my own work looking at the surviving infrastructure of the Penn and the landscape it traveled. I’ve studied quite a bit of his original work, the photographs are amazing. Here’s a link to the PRR project if you’re interested.

Jackson-Township historical preservation posted
U. S. Steel Edgar Thomson Works located in the town of Braddock, Allegheny County in 1908.
Robert Isler: And FWIW, Braddock Locks and Dam at this time the photo was taken is only 3 years old. She was commissioned in 1905, and rebuilt/reengineered in 1950/1952 & 2004... The dam, although the original, was a technological marvel, as it was a FIXED CREST, but had adjustable “Mini Wickets”, and the elevation of the upper pool could be raised or lowered depending on the time of year and rate of flow.
Dave Brown: Union RR hauling hot cinder ladles from Carrie Furnace in Rankin....those are called the Munhall Arches with the Kenney Yard below....Kennywood above.
[To summarize some comments, the train is pulling some slag cars to the dump.]
Nick Markowitz Jr. shared
Nick Markowitz Jr. shared a Jackson-Township historical preservation post
Edgar Thomson Works of U.S. Steel in North Braddock, Allegheny County in 1908. This was the site of British General Braddock's field of defeat to the French in 1755.
(Photo from [I found a specific link.])
Bob Goray posted
ET Braddock PA.
Stacy Mays: Bob Goray It looks like the caster back by the BOP. That would put it maybe the early '90s.

William David posted
One of the originals at ET
[Consensus of the comments is that this was #2.]

William David posted
Here's one of Edgar Thomson works 1900-1915 from the archives at the Library of Congress. The details are amazing and even the paddle wheel boat in the lock .... says Pittsburgh on the side looks like a current day Gateway Clipper fleet member.
Doug Majka: Six baby blast furnaces visible.
Tom Harvey: B, C, D, E, F and G. E didn't have a partner. I, H, J and K were perpendicular to the river.

William Borg posted
Uss Edgar Thompson mon valley works 9-5-21
Jack Vavrek posted
United States Steel Homestead Works [Comment corrected as ET.]

Michael Jones posted
USS Edgar Thomson Works
Jeff Bindas: Edgar Thompson has adjustable, on the fly, caster, to change thickness, width while casting. First one in US. USS engineers!

Raymond Boothe posted
Photo of the Edgar Thomson Works of USS Steel (Macha photo).
Bird's Eye
I had switched to the Bing maps because I had trouble finding the arch bridge. It turns out that it does not go over the big Monongahela River, but over the little Turtle Creek. It is the Westinghouse Bridge and carrys US-30 (Lincoln Highway).

Update: Chris Litherland's photo of the mill. In a Facebook posting of this photo, Chris provided the description:
Here's a photo from a couple of weeks ago of the Edgar Thomson Steel Mill in Braddock.
The Edgar Thomson Steel Works was designed and built due to the invention of the Bessemer process, the first inexpensive industrial process for the mass production of steel. In the process, air blowing through the molten iron removed impurities via oxidation. This took place in the Bessemer converter, a large ovoid steel container lined with clay or dolomite.
The mill was built for Andrew Carnegie by Alexander Lyman Holley, who found a manager to run the mill, Capt. William Jones, a Civil War veteran. In 1875, the Edgar Thomson Steel Works' hulking Bessemer converter produced its first heat of liquid steel, destined to become 2,000 steel rails for the Pennsylvania Railroad. These steel mills are what built this region and the world during the early 1900s. Now this mill is one of that last steel mills left in the US, and is also among one of the oldest.

Brian Kuhn posted
USS Edgar Thomson Works 1 and 3 blast furnaces. Taken from the top of #2 ore bridge.
John Ireland What’s w the tracks burning ?
Don Weitzman They park the frozen coke racks over the fire to melt the frozen coke in the cars.
Brad Sodora Don Weitzman those are mostly for pellet cars.
Jeffrey Morrow We put the pellet cars over the ribbon burners.

Bubba Dubs posted
[Note the Braddock Dam in the background.]

Mark Knupp posted
U.S.Steel Edgar Thomson Works.

Some of the photos posted by Bryan Meister. [Some of the comments talked about how many hours they would work in a row on repair jobs.]





Austin Smith: I can tell that's et by that last pic. I'm always seeing that crane around.

Jason Anderson added
#3 Blast furnace on a cold day in 2017.
Richard Allison: I guess this is No.3 at Edgar Tompson Works. Been there many times in the late 1970s. It was old then, older now.
Jon Matrozza: Richard Allison #3 Blast Furnace was totally rebuilt and upgraded to Hoogoven Stoves in 1983. I worked there removing refractory from the furnace shell and then removed checker bricks from the stoves as well. I was laid off from August 1982 till December 1983. Ironically, once the furnace was complete, it sat idled for about 5 years until business conditions warranted blowing it back in. I finished my career in 2015 with just over 38 years.

Raymond Boothe posted
USS Edgar Thomson Works: View of a blast furnace with ingots and buggies in the foreground (HAER photo/Dr. Raymond Boothe B&W adj.).
Brian Olson: I know that furnace is from the 1930s but it looks like the stoves are relatively modern. Maybe 1970s.

ᛃᛖᚠᚠ ᚢᛁᚾᛉᛖᚱ ᚹᛟᛟᛞ posted four photos with the comment: "Ahtside of furnace #1 in Edgar Thompson plant in Pittsburgh, PA....just finished a 36 hour marathon outage..."
Joe Barron: Was at Kennywood Saturday evening and thought the Bleeders looked like they were open.
Ahtside Robin Haerens: damn, looks like a blast from the past to me. not one cover on the runners as far as i can see and tuyeres so close to the trough and even over it.
Robin Haerens: Bryan Meister runner covers are both a blessing and a curse imho. they are awesome cause they direct most of the smoke/slag fumes to the dedusting system. they suck cause when something goes wrong you have to spend precious time removing them. you can get a nice look at our casthouse here:
Nathean Anielewski: Robin Haerens there are covers over the runner, not the trough though.




James Torgeson posted for "Bob Ciminel; Edgar Thomson Works in 1992."

Ian Hapsias commented on James' post
Circa 2014 view, my photo.

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