Complete History Part 2 Pittsburgh Steel Company Monessen Works, Monessen Pennsylvania
An expansion in steelmaking capacity also took place during the war years. In 1918 four basic, 120-ton open-hearth furnaces were added to the plant, and the eight existing furnaces were enlarged from 95 to 120 tons. with this expansion and other improvements, the open-hearth steelmaking plant assumed the basic form that it would retain until 1953. Thus, it is appropriate to provide a description of open-hearth facilities at this time. The plan or layout of the steel plant is an important factor in its efficiency. A steel plant should be situated in close proximity to both its source of raw materials (blast furnaces and stock yards) and the point where its product is processed (rolling mills). Moreover, buildings and facilities should be positioned for convenient transportation so that "through-put" or a continuous flow of materials is maintained. Such a rational, planned layout was first attained at the Edgar Thomson Bessemer steel works at Braddock, Pennsylvania in 1873 by Alexander Holley. As Mark M. Brown has shown with study of the Homestead steel works, this rational layout was impossible at older works such as Homestead, where facilities often had to be "shoehorned." Despite the fact that both the open-hearth and blast furnace plants at Monessen were added years after the company's first facilities were put on-line, they were well laid-out. Situated adjacent to the river, the open-hearth plant was sandwiched conveniently between the blast furnace plant and blooming and billet mill. Hot metal from the blast furnaces was transferred on rail "torpedo" cars via an elevated tramway a short distance to the facility, and ingots, after cooling in an adjacent yard, were stripped and transported on rail cars a short distance to the soaking pits near the blooming and billet mill.
Like the blast furnaces, the open-hearth plant at Monessen reflected advances in design made during the previous twenty years in the American steel industry. By the time the Monessen plant was built (1908) and expanded (1918), the design of openhearth facilities had become standardized, variations in the details of construction remained. Certainly, a characteristic architecture and spatial arrangement had emerged. Like most open-hearth facilities of this period, those at Monessen were enclosed in an immense steel-frame building divided longitudinally into charging and teeming (or pouring) aisles or sides. The thirty-six Hughes gas producers were situated in a separate, attached building. Coal was delivered to hoppers above the producers via a skip hoist and conveyor system from the adjacent stock yard, which held coal and scrap. The twelve furnaces were arranged end to end in a long row along the center. The charging floor, situated between the furnaces and the gas producers, was elevated about eighteen feet above the level of the teeming floor. A narrow gauge track for conveying scap, ore, and limestone to the furnace, was located on the charging floor. Also on this floor and next to the furnace was a wide gauge track with a spread of about twenty feet upon which charging machines ran. The space above this floor and the furnaces was spanned by two overhead traveling cranes, used for charging the furnaces with hot metal. Prominent features of the teeming floor were teeming platforms, each about eight feet wide and eight feet high, from which the molten steel was directed from ladles into ingots mounted on railroad cars. A 600-ton mixer and a pig casting machine were located at the end of the building adjacent to the blast furnace plant.
The open-hearth furnace is a rectangular brick structure set on a concrete foundation and supported on the sides and ends by steel steel channels or slabs. The most common furnace size in 1920 ran from 35 to 75 tons capacity; at 120 tons those at Monessen were large by industry standards. The characteristic feature of the furnace is a shallow, dish-shaped hearth upon which the steel is made. The brick walls are vertical and each furnace is covered by an arched refractory brick roof. Charging doors for the introduction of raw materials are set into the brick walls on the charging side. The taphole is located on the other side, arranged so that molten steel can rush by gravity through a spout into a large ladle on the pouring floor. A considerable portion of the open-hearth furnace is not visible. Brick regeneration chambers or "checker-work" are located at both ends of the furnace below the level of the charging floor. The bricks in these chambers are arranged with numerous passages through which hot waste gases, as well as fuel and combustion air, pass alternatively.
The open-hearth plant at Monessen included three important features that had become standard equipment by about 1900. Developed in 1880s and 1890s, the hot metal mixer, traveling crane and charging machine had revolutionalized steelmaking when they were introduced. The hot metal mixer was developed by William R. (Captain) Jones at the Edgar Thomson Bessemer steel works in 1887. Consisting of a firebrick-lined vessel holding about one hundred tons, the mixer held and mixed together molten pig iron from the blast furnaces. Periodically, charges were tapped from the mixer for use in the converters. The chief advantages of the mixer were that it eliminated the need for a cupola furnace to melt pig iron and greatly limited irregularites in the chemical composition of the pig iron. Soon, mixers were standard equipment in Bessemer steel works, and, when open-hearth facilities were built, incorporated into their design. The 600-ton mixer at Monessen was about average capacity for the industry in 1920. Since the mixer building housing them was not a part of the original layout of the open-hearth plant, it appears that the mixer was added sometime between 1908 and 1923. Situated at the head of the open-hearth building near the blast furnaces, the mixer received hot metal from the blast furnaces via "torpedo" cars running on an elevated tramway.
The electric, traveling overhead crane was developed in the 1880s and had become standard equipment at most steel plants by 1900. The crane greatly facilitated materials handling, making large-volume steel production possible. At Monessen and elsewhere cranes were used in charging and teeming. They transfered ladles of pig iron to the furnaces, then poured ladles of molten steel into ingot molds. The charging machine, developed by Samuel Wellman in the 1890s, automated the charging process. Positioned on a wide gauge track atop the charging floor, the charging machine attended a battery of furnaces. At Monessen, two Wellman charging machines served the twelve furnaces. The machine itself consists of a bottom truck with flanged wheels upon which is mounted a carriage fitted with a charging bar. The charging bar is shaped so that it can fit the socket of a charging box, which is filled with scrap, ore, or limestone. In practice, charging boxes were moved into position in front of the furnaces on buggies running on the narrow gauge rail line. The charging machine locked onto the charging box, raised it, then transferred it through the charging door to the hearth of the furnace.
Besides the furnaces themeselves, charging machines, cranes, and hot metal mixer, the open-hearth plant at Monessen—like others in the industry—included additional equipment: ladles for containing molten metal, molds for ingots, dinkeys or electric engines for hauling materials, and a stripper for removing molds from the ingots. The plant at Monessen had an unusual feature, a pig-casting machine, which was unrelated to steelmaking. Typically a part of a blast furnace plant and located in or near the cast house, a pig machine is for casting pig iron. It replaced the old method of casting the metal in beds of sand. It consists of a an endless chain carrying a series of parallel molds, into which the metal is poured. Located in the mixer building, the pig machine at Monessen probably received hot metal from both the blast furnace plant as well as any excess from the mixer. Although the pig machine may have received wide use prior to the modernization of the open hearth plant in 1953, it was used only intermittenly afterward.
Like its facilities, the open-hearth steelmaking process utilized at Monessen was fairly typical of the industry. Each operating furnace was attended by three men: a first helper, a second helper, and a cinder pit man (or third helper). Supervising the work was a foreman - melter foreman or simply melter - who was in charge of the operation of all of the furnaces. The first helper was in charge of the furnace, except when the heat was tapped. The duty of the first helper was to work the heat: direct the work of the second helper and cinder pit man; inform them, along with the charging machine operator, how much ore, pig iron, scrap, and other materials were to be added to the furnace; run off the slag; and direct any repairs necessary during the operation. The main responsibility of the first helper was to tap the heat, direct the repair of the bottom, and clean the steel spout. The second helper had the most difficult job: he had the responsibility of keeping supplies of dolomite (for "making bottom" and performing repairs of the furnace as the heat worked), as well as ladle additives on hand. This was was done manually - with shovel and wheelbarrow - at Monessen. The second helper helped work the heat, dug the plug out of the tapping hole when the heat was ready to tap, plugged the tapping hole after the heat, relined the steel spout after the heat, and cleaned-up around the furnace. The cinder pit man cleaned the cinder pit and assisted in "making bottom" at the furnace. The melter foreman had overall direction of the furnaces. At Monessen, six to ten of the twelve furnaces were in service at one time, while the rest remained on standby. The melter also made sure that the heat met the specifications of the order, took charge of any furnace when difficulty arose, directed the tapping of the heat and any ladle additions, and inspected the bottom of the furnace after the heat was tapped.
From information obtained through interviews with former workers at Monessen, it is clear that this work - especially that of the second helper and cinder pit man - was laborious, hot, dirty, and dangerous. With its hazards and rigid chain of command, the situation was comparable to "being in the [military] service." Accidents were not uncommon. In fact, the worst accident in the history of the Monessen plant occurred at the open-hearth plant on July 29, 1953, when a "dinkey" jumped the tracks on the trestle of the line leading from the blast furnace plant. The structure collapsed, severing a steam line and sending tons of debris on top of a group of men eating lunch below. Five steelworkers died and five others were seriously injured.
The first step in the process of making steel in an open-hearth furnace was "making bottom." As described earlier, the chemical reaction of the basic lining of the furnace with the charge, which eliminated phosphorous and sulphur, was one of the most important functions of the open hearth. Such a reaction naturally eroded the magnesite brick lining the bottom of the furnace. To protect the bottom lining and provide an additional source of basic material for steelmaking, the open-hearth crew had to "make bottom" before the furnace was charged. After an inspection of the furnace by the melter, the open-hearth crew went to work, performing one of the hottest and dirtiest jobs in the mill. The first step was to rabble (or rake out) the steel and slag that were not removed during the tapping process. This exposed any holes in the bottom. If a large hole was found, the furnace was allowed to cool and the bottom was built up with magnesite brick. Typically, however, only small holes were found. These were filled with burnt dolomite, the second helper and cinder pit man shoveling the material into place through the charging door. Dolomite was also shoveled into place along the sides or banks of the furnace. The last step was to seal the tapping hole, first with dolomite then with a plug of clay.
After the furnace was prepared, it was charged with raw materials. The two principal ingredients were steel scrap and hot metal (pig iron). In addition, smaller quantities of limestone, which acted as a flux, and iron ore, which provided oxygen to oxidize carbon and impurities, were added. From interviews, it appears the a greater percentage of hot metal over scrap was used at Monessen than in many other plants. While a fifty-fifty percentage was standard for the industry, a proportion of about sixty percent hot metal and forty percent scrap was typical at Monessen. The large iron production capacity at Monessen probably accounts for this mix.
The first three materials to be charged in the furnace were placed there by the charging machine. The first was limestone— about five to eight percent of the total charge. Next, a small quantity of iron ore—probably less than one percent of the charge—was placed atop the limestone. Steel scrap was then placed atop this mixture before the gas, which had been set at low, was turned up to full and the first or melting stage of the process begun. This stage typically lasted about two hours.
After most of the solid materials were melted, the molten metal was introduced. At Monessen, hot metal was poured from the mixer into a ladle, then transferred to the furnace by a crane. The timing of this step, which was determined by the temperature of the solid charge, was very important. If added too late - after the solid materials had melted and partially oxidized – the charge would erupt into a violent boil; if too early, the hot metal would be chilled by the solids, delaying the heat. With this addition, the purification of the metal began.
Two types of chemical reactions, relating to the removal of carbon, phosphorous, sulphur, manganese and silicon, took place during the purification process: oxidation and neutralization. The first reaction liberated the impurities, while the second bonded them to the limestone flux so that they could be removed as slag. These reactions took place in three stages, known as the ore boil, the lime boil, and the working period. During the ore boil, lasting about three hours, most of the oxidation of impurities, except for carbon, occurred, resulting in the evolution of carbon dioxide that bubbled through the bath. Some neutralization occurred as well and, as a result, slag formed on top of the bath. To tap this slag, the slag hole was cleared of dolomite and the excess slag allowed to flow through the cinder spout into the cinder pit below. This tapping was known as the runoff. The second stage of the purification process, lasting about one hour and a half, was the lime boil. During this period, the lime rose to the surface of the bath and calcinated, resulting in the neutralization of impurities and their incorporation in slag. During the calcining process, carbon dioxide was released from the limestone, causing the bath to boil violently.
After the lime boil had subsided, the working or refining period began. Lasting from two and one-half to three hours, this was the period when the remaining carbon content of the heat was adjusted and the temperature of the bath raised to a point that allowed for proper tapping and casting into ingots. This was the most important period in the purification process, the time when the skill and experience of the melter and his crew were brought to bear. The working period required an increase in temperature in the furnace, achieved by increasing the volume of gas flowing into the furnace, as well as by reversing the flow of fuel and air through the checkers more frequently. The carbon content of the bath was the most critical factor in the production of steel. Depending on its purpose, the carbon content of steel as cast varied from 1.00 percent to 0.02 percent. Since alloying compounds such as ferromanganese, added near the end of the heat or in the ladle, contained carbon, it was standard practice at Monessen to reduce the carbon in the bath to a point slightly lower than the final content desired to allow for these additions. The carbon content was reduced through the addition of an oxidizing agent—usually iron ore. To monitor the carbon, the steel was tested frequently by the first helper, who obtained a small spoonful from the furnace, poured it into a mold, and allowed it to solidify. After cooling with water, the steel was removed from the mold and broken with a small sledge hammer. While it was possible to determine the range of carbon through an inspection of the fracture, a carbometer, which determined the exact content of the steel through its magnetic properties, typically was used. When the desired carbon level was attained, the steel was finished in the furnace. Depending upon the type and grade of steel being made, alloying compounds such as ferromanganese, molybednum, and chromium were added and additional tests made.
After about ten hours in the furnace, the steel was ready to tap. The second helper began the procedure by digging out the rear of the mud plug and most of the dolomite used to close the tapping hole. Then, the hole was opened by driving the remaining dolomite outwards with a tapping rod, which was inserted through the charging door in front of the furnace. The steel then flowed through the hole out of the furnace and down a spout into a ladle, a fireclay-lined steel vessel large enough to hold the entire contents of the furnace. Ladle additions such as silicon or vanadium were made at this point, usually by throwing the compounds in the stream of the steel as it passed into the ladle. Since the tapping spout and ladle were placed so as to direct the stream of steel a little to the side of center, a swirling motion was created that mixed the additives with the steel.
As soon as the stream from the furnace no longer contained any steel, the spout was removed, and the ladle lifted by the crane and carried to the pouring or teeming platform. Here the steel was poured into ingot molds, which rested on small rail cars. At Monessen the ingot molds were fitted with hot tops, a refractory-lined cap placed atop the mold that delayed solidification of the top part of the ingot. It was also common practice at Monessen to "kill" or deoxidize the steel in the mold by adding a small amount of aluminum. This addition suppressed gases that otherwise evolved from the ingot while it solidified, causing deformities in its structure. After teeming, the ingots were rolled into the nearby yard for chilling, then transported to the stripper, where the molds were removed. From here a crane moved the ingots to the soaking pits, where the rolling process began.
With the Pittsburgh Steel Company's plant, along with the tube mill of the Pittsburgh Steel Products Company, the U.S. Steel tin plate mill, Page Steel Works and the Monessen Foundry, Monessen emerged as a bustling industrial city. By 1920 Monessen was the leading industrial town in Westmoreland County in terms of the value of all products, number of works, and capital invested. Monessen ranked fourteenth among all Pennsylvania cities in total capital invested.
This large complex of industrial firms in Monessen attracted a rapid influx of people. From less than 200 in 1898, the population grew to 11,775 in 1910 and 18,179 in 1920. These people came from highly diverse backgrounds. Some were native Pennsylvanians of Scotch-Irish, English, Irish, and German backgrounds, but most were immigrants and second-generation eastern and southern Europeans who came to Monessen in successive waves. In 1910 the foreign-born, along with American-born sons and daughters of immigrant families, comprised seventy-one percent of the city's population. Although the number of immigrants dropped somewhat during the 1910s, immigrants and their progeny still constituted seventy-one percent of the city's residents. The largest ethnic groups in the city were Italians, Slovaks, Poles, Croatians, Hungarians, Greeks and Ukrainians.
Blacks came to Monessen to work in the mills as well, but not in such large numbers. The first blacks arrived in Monessen in 1902, when thirty-two wire-drawers were brought from Joliet, Illinois. By 1907, according to Richard Wright, about 150 worked for Pittsburgh Steel, and three years later, the city of Monessen had 232 blacks (1.9 percent of the population); by 1920, their numbers increased to 588 and 3.2 percent of town's population. Some blacks arrived at Monessen during the World War I boom, when wages were high, while others were imported during the 1919 strike to act as strikebreakers. Pittsburgh Steel Company had 200 black employees in 1923, 118 in 1924 and 157 in 1925.
The arrival of vast numbers of immigrants led to ethnic and racial divisions in Monessen that spilled over into the workplace. The native and "old immigrant" stock formed the town's middle and upper classes. They filled most of the skilled and supervisory jobs in the mills, and held most of the city's political offices (as Republicans) until the late 1930s. The recent immigrants, along with the blacks, were positioned at the bottom of the social ladder. They held the lower-paying, unskilled and often more dangerous jobs in the mills. For example, the 150 blacks who worked at Pittsburgh Steel in 1907 filled the dangerous and low-paying jobs of wire-drawer, firemen, boiler tender, and laborer.
Efforts to assimilate the large ethnic population at Monessen were made both from "above" by civic and governmental agencies and from "below" by the immigrants themselves. These efforts met with some success in naturalizing immigrants. In fact, an article in the Pittsburgh Sun in 1919 lauded the town as the "biggest melting pot of the entire nation." However, it was not until the 1930s, when the second generation of new arrivals matured and the union finally succeeded, that the ethnic population was truly integrated and accorded an equal status with natives. Until then, immigrants and their families lacked the political power and access to economic opportunities that natives took for granted.
The tension between natives and recent immigrants in Monessen became more evident during the nationwide strike of 1919. Although the Amalgamated Association of Iron and Steel Workers had become nearly powerless after 1901, it made a renewed organizing effort in 1918 and 1919. Under its auspices, a National Committee for Organizing the Iron and Steel Workers was formed in August, 1918 under the leadership of syndicalist William Z. Foster. Following a successful drive to organize steelworkers, the National Committee, with the cooperation of lodges of the Amalgamated Association, launched a national strike on September 22, 1919. The strikers demanded union recognition, the eight-hour day, higher wages, and abolition of company unions.
As was the case nationwide, the strike of 1919 was an abysmal failure at Monessen. The strikers returned to work without gaining any of their goals. With the National Committee defeated, their local organization soon withered. The strike failed for several reasons: the split in the ranks of labor between natives and immigrants, the failure of organized labor to adequately provide for the strikers, and most of all, the repressive, red-baiting strategy of government and business interests. The strike left divisions and hardship in its aftermath. With their leaders blackballed or, in the case of the Russians, arrested by federal agents as subversives, the solidarity of many ethnic groups was shattered. Some of the strikers were forced to leave Monessen. Those who did return to work were forced to undergo the humiliations of defeat. They were forced to re-apply for their jobs and take a pledge to maintain the laws of the commonwealth and country. Often, they were given jobs even more dangerous and dirty than those they held before the strike.
Despite the strike victory, Pittsburgh Steel Company failed to expand or realize large profits during the "prosperity decade" of the 1920s. According to its official historian, the company missed its opportunity because of two developments: the deaths of the three of the six founders and the inability of the company to balance its large iron and steel making capacity with the appropriate finishing facilities. The "driving force" of the company, Wallace Rowe, died on February 1, 1919, his plans for expansion of finishing facilities following him to the grave. Then, in quick succession John Bindley and Willis McCook, who had succeeded Rowe as company presidents, passed on in 1921 and 1923, respectively. More important in the general decline of the company was the slackening of the demand for steel, especially after the recession of 1922. Profits dwindled, providing little for the investments needed to correct the company's two major weaknesses—insufficient ownership of ore supplies and the imbalance of steel making with finishing facilities.
The only measures taken by Pittsburgh Steel during the 1920s to make itself more competitive involved improvements in the production and delivery of oil country tubing. The discovery of large oil pools in Texas and Oklahoma after the war created an increased demand for pipe to be used in the wells and in transmission lines. With the new seamless tube mill at Allenport, Pittsburgh Steel was poised to exploit this growing market. To exert a larger control over the plant and cut managerial costs, Pittsburgh Steel took over the Pittsburgh Steel Products Company, the subsidiary which operated the Allenport mill, in September, 1925 and renamed it the Tubular Division. Since oil men were demanding pipe in larger diameters, the company installed a Mannesman Pilger mill at the Allenport plant in 1926. A type of rolling mill for making large diameter tubing, the Pilger mill enabled the company to produce seamless steel tubing in long lengths up to 12'-l/2” outside diameter.
The company also took steps to reduce transportation costs and improve the delivery of its oil country products. The growth of western steel centers, along with the abolition of Pittsburgh Plus pricing and the adoption of a multiple basing point system in 1924, meant that Pittsburgh producers had to make large freight absorptions in order to compete in the west. To reduce freight costs as much as one-half, the company turned from rail to water transport. To this end, the company constructed wharfs at both its Allenport and Monessen sites in 1919. The Allenport wharf was designed to ship oil country tubing to distribution points along the Mississippi River, while the Monessen wharf was built to receive raw materials, particularly coal and coke. In 1926 the company established a large pipe storage yard on the Mississippi River at Memphis, Tennessee and sales offices at Houston, Texas and Tulsa, Oklahoma. The same year, the company transported about forty thousand tons of finished steel by water.
With the onset of the Great Depression in 1930, the downward slide of Pittsburgh Steel Company continued at an accelerated pace. In December, 1930 the dividend on common stock was eliminated to conserve assets. Preferred stock dividends were eliminated six months later. For the next five years, Pittsburgh Steel operated in the red and the company's credit rating slipped precipitously. The company eliminated nearly three-fourths of its maintenance spending, and capital equipment expenditures dropped ninety-four percent in the years from 1929 to 1934. To save cash, the company closed its Glassport hoop mill, liquidated the Monessen Coal and Coke Company in 1932, and discontinued small diameter pipe production at the Monessen Works, except for certain finishing operations. The cuts in maintenance and new equipment purchases made it more difficult for Pittsburgh Steel to compete with the more efficient, better integrated mills.
With disaster looming, Pittsburgh Steel Company was revived in 1936 by the entry of new financial interests. Financial setbacks had reduced its stock to bargain prices, so when a revival of the steel industry appeared imminent in 1936, investors recognized the profit potential of the company. Through the purchase of shares held by Emil Winter, one of the company's founders, J.H. Hillman, Jr. acquired an interest in the company and was named a director on January 13, 193 6. At the same time, the Sharon Steel Company, with an integrated mill at Sharon, Pennsylvania, purchased a large block of Pittsburgh Steel stock. Sharon was similar to Pittsburgh Steel in size and product mix. Organized in 1899, Sharon had iron and steel making facilities, as well as a rod mill, wire plant, wire nail works, and a tin plate mill. Sharon's purchase constituted a near takeover of Pittsburgh Steel. Henry A. Roemer, president and chairman of its board of directors, was named director and president of Pittsburgh Steel in January, 1936. The two companies functioned together closely and shared several of the same officers. An actual merger was considered, but forestalled by the threat of an anti-trust investigation by the Justice Department in 1936.
With Hillxnan and the Sharon interests on the board of directors, Pittsburgh Steel initiated a financial recovery program in 1936. In May action was taken by the board of directors to obtain capital funds to rehabilitate and modernize the mill. Over one hundred thousand shares of stock were offered, and by October, 1936 $1.03 million was raised for expenditures at the Monessen and Allenport plants. The next year, twenty-six modernization projects were undertaken: the two largest were the installation of continuous, variable-speed wire blocks in the wire mill and the remodeling of the No. 1 rod mill to make larger rods. By 1936 the company had a pig iron capacity of 480,000 tons and a steel ingot capacity of 720,000 tons. This latter figure capacity represented 1.1 percent of the nation's total ingot capacity. In order of tonnage marketed, its chief products were seamless tubing, plain wire, wire nails, galvanized wire, wire fence, wire fabric, and rods. The company employed 5,200 at the Monessen Works and 2,000 at its Allenport plant.
The rehabilitation measures taken in 1936 and 1937 were, merely stop-gap measures—replacements of out-moded machinery— that allowed the company to continue its traditional product line. Although no investments were made for much-needed new finishing facilities, the company's performance improved, nonetheless, as profits were realized in 1936 and 1937 and, despite a loss of half a million dollars in 1938, in 1939 and 1940.
The financial recovery of Pittsburgh Steel Company was not, however, the main development in the company's history during the late 1930s. Without doubt, the successful unionization of steelworkers by the Steel Workers Organizing Committee (SWOC) against the company's fierce resistance was the main story of the late 1930s.
With the problem of labor organization solved and the company once again upon solid financial ground, the years from 1939 to 1946 were some of Pittsburgh Steel's most productive and profitable. The war led to a tremendous increase in the demand for steel, which was needed in such large quantities that the company could sell every pound that it made. To an extent, the company re-tooled its finishing departments to produce a variety of products for wartime applications: shells, armor piercing shots and bullets, rockets, wire-mesh for roads and landing strips, and barbed wire. However, the largest part of the steel produced in the open hearths at Monessen was sold in ingot form. Reheated and shaped into a host of products by other steel companies and fabricators, the steel made at Monessen attained a reputation for high quality. Its sale in ingot rather than finished form reduced the company's profits, however.
Pittsburgh Steel accepted the admonitions of the federal government to expand during the war and added two major production facilities. A Koppers sixty-oven by-product coke plant, financed entirely by the company, was erected at Monessen in 1942. Since the company had purchased its coke on the open market following the liquidation of Monessen Coal & Coke in 1932, the plant was a big cost-saver. The second major addition was a third blast furnace. In 1945 the Defense Plant Corporation, an agency of the federal government that sought to increase the capacity of steel mills across the country (it built fourteen blast furnaces), financed the construction of the furnace. With a hearth diameter of 28 feet, No. 3 furnace had a daily production capacity of 2,200 tons - more than double that of No. 1 or No. 2. No. 3 furnace (renamed "Jane" in 1966) was not completed until after the war, however. In 1947 the furnace was acquired at no cost by Pittsburgh Steel Company from the War Assets Administration, the federal agency responsible for liquidating the government's wartime investments in steel making. It was blown-in in May, 1948.
The war period was also significant as the high-tide of labor-management cooperation at the Monessen plant and other steel mills. The "get-together spirit" was in the air; animated by patriotic fervor, workers and managers worked together as never before to produce more and better steel to win the war. In March, 1943 the company received the Army-Navy "E" for excellence award for its production record. Employees also purchased thousands of dollars of war bonds (and flew the Minuteman Flag representing their purchases); 1,675 from the Monessen and Allenport plants served in the armed forces. A number of women took the places of the fighting men. Although most worked in offices and labs, some filled production jobs, particularly in the newly-constructed coke plant. With a few exceptions, the women returned to the domestic sphere when the war was over. It was during the war years that the company began publication of its magazine, The. Keystone of Pittsburgh Steel. The magazine disseminated information about new facilities or production techniques, promoted safety, and provided a forum for news about employees and the communities in which they lived. It encouraged the cooperative spirit by referring to both management and labor as part of the "Pittsburgh Steel family."