Friday, February 19, 2016

US Steel: Edgar Thomson Works in Braddock, PA

(HAER; Satellite)

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.
Craig Sturge on posted in Facebook
Heinz History Center posted
Andrew Carnegie was not the first to make steel, but when Carnegie, McCandless & Company completed the Edgar Thomson Works along the Monongahela River in 1875, it ushered in the dawn of a new era that shaped the fortunes of the region for more than a century.  
Capitalizing on the new Bessemer process that made steel quicker and cheaper to produce, Carnegie and his partners completed their first steel works in Braddock in 1875. Carnegie continued building mills and acquiring businesses connected with the industry. When he sold Carnegie Steel to J. P. Morgan in 1901, creating the United States Steel Corporation, it became the first billion-dollar company and made Carnegie one of the richest men in the world. 
Learn more about Pittsburgh’s rise to industrial dominance during a docent-led guided tour tomorrow at 11 a.m. The tour is included with museum admission and will focus on the museum’s Pittsburgh: A Tradition of Innovation exhibition. 
📸 Image of the Carnegie Furnaces at Braddock, Pa., from across the river. Detroit Publishing Company, c. 1905. Library of Congress. 
Michael Gilmer shared
Fred McEwen shared
Little History!!
Petro Stefanovich posted
PCC Trolley riding alongside USS Edgar Thomson Works. Circa 60’s
Comments on Petro's post

The notes on Homestead and Braddock Works has information on how production was divided amongst these works.
Bird's Eye
Bird's Eye
Dan Pinneri posted
ET US Steel
John Groves: Francis Hull asked when ET Nos. 1 & 3 blast furnaces were built.
The answer is a bit complex.
Andrew Carnegie established the Edgar Thomson Works in 1875, with a Bessemer converter shop, a bloom mill and a rail mill.
For the first five years, cold pig iron was shipped in mainly from Carnegie's two Lucy blast furnace located on the Allegheny River in Pittsburgh's north-western suburbs. These furnaces were built in 1872 and 1877.
In 1880 Carnegie turned ET into a fully integrated plant with the construction of three blast furnaces. Six more BFs were added by 1890, with 2 more added by US Steel in 1902 & 1903.
These 11 furnaces were numbered A to K.
By the early 1940s, five small furnaces had been abandoned. Two large completely new BFs were added in 1943 on the site of the original A, B & C furnaces. The remaining 8 furnaces were renumbered 1 to 8.
The newly numbered BF 3 was formerly D furnace, originally built in 1882 and enlarged in 1901. It was completely rebuilt and substantially enlarged in 1930 to its present 26' hearth diameter.
The new No.1 BF in 1943 was 27'6" hearth. It was enlarged to 28'10" in 1964.
The current rated daily capacities of the two remaining furnaces are:
No.1 - 3500 net tpd,
No.2 - 3100 net tpd.
The very short answer to the original question is....
No.1 BF was built in 1943.
No.3 BF was built in 1930.
Todd Branch posted
USS ET Works, looking SE from BF-#3 towards BF-#1.
Robert Morris: My Dad was mgr. Cost Analysis for the Blastfurnce Div. I wonder where his office was. It was in the mill somewhere.
Randal McVaney: Robert Morris Bf ofc off was west side old #5 fce end of ore yard. Started work BF Maintenance 1974 Management Trainee.
Robert Morris: Randal McVaney Thanks, he was at ET from 1968 till 1983.
Randal McVaney: Robert Morris Relocated from Monvalley in 1986 to USS Lorain , great place to work had good personnel.
Richard Allison: I worked on the No.1 and No.2 when it was still standing in the late 70s when we were helping them to maintain their troughs. I wonder why they demolished the two other furnaces unless they did not need the iron anymore after tearing down so many mills in the valley.
Viktor Mácha: Rare view! May I know what is the round structure next to the blast furnace? Some slag cooling pit?
Matthew Howells: Viktor Mácha #1 furnace gas washer clarifier.
John J. Chapman posted
Edgar Thomson Works, Braddock

Fort Frick Photography posted
Still a few other images, before I start posting Christmas photos.  This one is a panorama from a few weeks ago.  
Jeff Bowser shared

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 Braddock (#2) Lock that this is the Thomson Works.]
Jerry Billak posted
United States Steel Edgar Thompson works
[The lock is in the right foreground, and the George Westinghouse Bridge is in the right background.]

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
Charlie Ipcar posted
Well, here's an active industrial landscape with a river, one of the Carnegie steel plants known as the Edgar Thomson Works, Braddock, PA. And there are a couple of steam dredges at work and one tow-boat, the "W. C. Jutte" and the "Southern," and the "Cascade." circa 1900, from the Detroit Publishing Co., via Library of Congress.

Charlie commented on his post
Here's a panorama that I stitched together showing the entire factory layout along the river. Note the little switcher locomotive steaming by in the left foreground.

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.])
Roz Christopherson posted
Edgar Thomson Works, Braddock PA, 1908.
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.
John Murnan II posted
Edgar Thomson Works, Pittsburgh, PA, 1948.
W.A. Feibelman photo
Michael Maitland: Pennsylvania Railroad mainline are the four tracks under the Bridge. Union Railroad on the bridge over the top. Far left is the Pennsylvania Port Perry Branch. The Baltimore and Ohio and Pittsburg and Lake Erie railroads got into this area on the far side of the blast furnaces.
Jackson-Township historical preservation posted
Trolley passing by the United States Steel Edgar Thompson Plant in North Braddock, Allegheny County.
(Photo from Rob Trappen via
James Torgeson shared
Carl Jacobson: This is an open hearth building, 15 stacks, 15 furnaces. The ones with the orange smoke were just charged and are burning down scrap.
The building behind it is probably the stock house for the Open Hearth. I don’t see any chimneys for soaking pits.
Fred McEwen posted
Might have been posted before.  Here's the Open Hearths at Edgar Thompson in Braddock.  In the 1960's.
Allen Rowles: Before precipitators.
Kenneth Treharn: What a beautiful Open Hearth Melt Shop! Looks like they had about 8 Furnaces running. At that number, it means the economy was pretty good. You could always tell at what stage the heat was by the color of the smoke or if flames were coming out of the stack the furnace was getting close. The First Helper probably had the Charging machine operator give him a "shake" of iron ore (usually Taconite). The molten bath would really react to ore around 2,700 degrees. Ahhh, the good old days.
Bert Pass: A recent headline in NWI reported people in Gary were having a cow about an orange cloud that came out of USS. They clearly have no idea about their history. Orange = $.
Dennis DeBruler: Back then, Gary didn't have just orange smoke, it had an orange sky. I remember driving to Chicago in the late 1960s on the Indiana Toll Road towards the "wall" of orange air. You knew when you entered the orange air because of the smell. And the duration of orange air was too long to hold your breath until you got to the other side.

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!
Jon Wolfe posted
Jon Wolfe posted
3D Satellite
Street View

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.



Dan Pinneri posted
ET, #3
Nathan Gower: Dan, I was on the gas seal yesterday [Jan 5, 2023]. Hope we bring her back online soon.
Dan Pinneri posted
Tressle and #1
Ian Hapsias: Looks like an older pic.
Nathan Gower: Ian, definitely an older pic. There’s a lot of secondary structure on the bleeder deck that isn’t there anymore.
Tanner Douglass posted
US Steel Edgar Thomson Steel Works, if you look closely you can see workers working on something (guys in the green and orange suits)
Doug Boyer: Probably shoveling pellets and stone from furnace ‘slips.’ Been on the bell level many times…Cleveland.
Brian Lucas
: You should also notice that the bleeder is open. They wouldn't be above the charging deck without the furnace down, to much CO gas.
Weston Szpondowski: That sure is an ugly one. Is it real old? Why’d they keep that one going?
Doug Loughner: Weston Szpondowski yes it's old. Yes its small.early 1980s,uss pres. Dave Roderick and Tom Graham his hatchet man decided to run the hell out of Dorothy six til it was about shot and modernize the 2 little furnaces at et.there were several factors to consider but that was what happened.Dorothy 6 put out at the end about 5 thousand tons a day.not sure how much the 2 at et can do,would guess about the same.
Bill Lucas: Doug Loughner between the two of them close to 9000 tons per day
Jon Matrozza: Doug Loughner #1BF (20 Tuyeres) and # 3BF (16 Tuyeres) can produce 8000 tons in 24 hours on a good day.
Doug Loughner: Jon Matrozza I stand corrected.
[According to some comments, there used to be 33 BFs just around Pittsburgh, there are 13 left in the country, these 2 at ET are the only ones still operating in Pennsylvania.]
Butchie Honsaker: Weston Szpondowski that fce might look old but it still puts out the tons. I have seen it for it. No 1 puts out maybe 4000 ton a day been doing that since the last complete rebuild from ground up in the late 70's. Now it has had many relines. Probably at least 3 brick complete relines and many gun relines.
Sean Lotarski: What are those 3 rocket ship looking vessels?
Kathleen Demko: [Stoves] The air is from the blowers in the blow engine house which goes thru the stoves at the cold blast valve and comes out of the stove through the hot blast valve. At thiis point it goes into the hot blast main and into the bustle pipe at the fce. The hot blast then leaves the bustle pipe and goes into the fce at one of the 18 -40 penstocks. In front of the penstocks are the blowpipes whcih go into the tuyere and into the fce. The wind from the blowers can be anywhere between 100000-250000 scfm depending on the size of the furnace. Joe Demko
David DiMichele: Hate to be the guy to carry the ladder all the way up there
Joe Chiodo: David DiMichele a elavator goes that high
Jon Matrozza commented on Tanner's post
Weston Szpondowski #3BF was rebuilt and updated to Hoogovens stoves with Zimmerman Janson Hot Blast Valves in the early 1980’s. As you can see in this photo of me from 1982. Once completed it sat idle for a few years until business conditions warranted blowing it in.
Weston Szpondowski: Jon Matrozza They tore down the ones on the right?
Jon Matrozza: Weston Szpondowski Yes, # 5BF and #6BF. I started in 1977 and actually saw #5BF in operation. #6BF was already blown down before I started. I witnessed #2, #5 and #6 imploded.
Weston Szpondowski: Jon Matrozza That three is the strangest looking I’ve ever seen. Was it some experimental design? It doesn’t even look like one.
Jon Matrozza: That’s because there is no furnace top, receiving hopper, distributor, small or large bell or gas seal platform. All missing from the rebuild.

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

Ian Hapsias commented on James' post
Circa 2014 view, my photo.
Kyle Phillips posted
Was down near Braddock today stopped to see if any bottle cars where running at Edgar Thomson. No luck but still got a cool pic outside of it.
William David posted
Happy Birthday to the Dual Strand caster of the ET Works!! 30 years ago today our caster was commissioned!!
ET = Edgar Thomson Plant USS MonValley Works
ET’s ability to survive has been it’s ability to continue a good relationship between Union and Management, it is a historical landmark as it was Carnegie’s first mill, it’s close to headquarters, we are able to run our furnaces on coke oven gas ( consuming Clariton’s waste gas) and we have continuously have been the corporation’s lowest cost highest quality provider.
Photo credit: The Mon Valley Photo Works , Rich Pantaleo
William Moutz: I worked in the Blast furnace area from 1989 until 2004. Mostly as a mechanical repair man. Under the new concessionary contract they combined jobs . Welders, pipe fitters, boilermakers, millwright etc we’re now called mechanical repairmen. They gave the folks who were not welders a two week course to make you a welder. At Homestead Works you needed a 3-1/2 year apprenticeship to be a welder. Lmao.

Bubba Dubs posted nine photos with the comment: "Edgar Thompson I took ALL of these without encroaching on US Steel airspace."
Are both blast furnaces still in operation?

 yes both are still operating.

#3 just underwent a reline last summer.
[According to the comments, they are building a new rolling mill.]

 well in this case I'm not positive but I do know for a fact that Clairton works just up the river does. It's designated a port and falls under DHS regulations which includes restricted airspace and limits on where and how you can photograph or video record it. In fact the workers who work on the river unloading barges are required to pass a federal background check to receive a transportation workers identification card (twic) and their entire work area is restricted to only those people who have one unless they are escorted.

 Where can I read the limits on where and how I can photograph a DHS facility? Specifically, is it still OK to photograph from public property?

 from public property on the west side along the roadway is legal,if you attempt to do it from the riverside you could get a visit from either the coast guard or the FBI whichever is closer.

 I was taking photos of a ship transfer table from a public trail on the other side of a trail fence that was on the other side of a road that was on the other side of the property fence and some employee came out to their fence to holler at me that I could not take photos because it was a restricted facility. And I kept hollering back that I was on public property. It sounds like I was right, I could take photos.









Group participant posted four photos with the comment: "Edgar Thompson 2017 Hood change out!"
Sjaak Betjes: Lower boiler replacedment of a BOF?
Group participant: Sjaak Betjes correct, replaced entire hood in BOP.
Jeff Bindas: I’m going to call it water cooled emission control ductwork. I see a big flange. I see a big elbow. I see a big straight piece. To me…….only straight piece is water cooled.



Fort Frick Photography posted
A less photographed angle with the Union Railroad, and Edgar Thomson.
Fort Frick Photography shared

2:28 video @ 0:10
Edgar Thomson Plant : By Robert S. Dorsett

11:38 video @ 0:05
How Steel is Made & How to Model it. Part 1 Starting with Coke

George Frigm posted two images with the comment: "Interesting article published in 1990 about the new continuous caster going into US Stel Edger Thomson Plant. After 30 years and about 75 millions tons of slabs that caster is still running. There has been steelmaking on that site for almost 150 years."


1 of 14 photos posted by Rust Belt Railroading
United States Steel Edgar Thompson Works photos I took with my drone when I went biking on GAP Trail.
[I chose this one because it shows the Braddock Lock.]
Matthew Sonnett shared
Johnny B Ridge: Where in Pittsburgh is this?
Dennis DeBruler answered Jonny's question
Across from Kennywood.
Buster Troy posted
#3 blast furnace at ET Works

Jon Matrozza posted sixteen photos.

A 10:09 video that is a slideshow of photos

1 comment:

  1. How can I connect to the Braddock Plant in the DE water zone