Historic Structures

Pittsburgh Steel Company Monessen Works, Monessen Pennsylvania

Date added: June 23, 2016 Categories: Pennsylvania Industrial Steel Mill

This large steel works is located at a bend in the Monongahela River, about forty miles by river from Pittsburgh. The works encompasses nearly 300 acres and extends more than two miles along the riverfront in Monessen. It includes fifty-six Koppers underjet-type by-product coke ovens, three blast furnaces, a basic-oxygen process shop, a five-strand bloom caster, a universal rail and structural rolling mill, shop facilities, and offices. Among the defunct operations are the blooming, billet, and bar mills, the rod mills, and the wire mills.

The older buildings appear to be at the upstream end of the works and include a number of large one story brick buildings with interior steel frames, gable roofs, and monitors. The most architecturally ornate building is the three-and-one-half story office with arched windows, brick walls, and hipped roof. Two of the blast furnaces date from 1916, though they have probably been refurbished at least once since the time of their construction. The by-product coke plant, located downstream from the office, was constructed in the 1940s. The basic-oxygen-process shop contains two basic oxygen vessels and was built in the 1970s. Recent construction includes the universal rail and structural mill, erected through a grant from the Economic Redevelopment Agency in 1981, and the five-strand continuous bloom caster, built in 1983. These facilities are housed in large one-story steel frame buildings clad with corrugated metal.

In 1901 the Pittsburgh Steel Company bought a ninety-six-acre parcel of land from the East Side Land Company, a consortium of local Monessen investors. By 1902 Pittsburgh Steel had built a rod and wire mill on this property, and was producing 400 tons of wire and nails a day, with a work force of more than 3,000. Under Pittsburgh Steel's president, Wallace H. Rowe, the company established its own iron and steel making facilities between 1908 and 1916. During these years twelve open hearth furnaces, blooming mills, billet mills, and two blast furnaces were built next to the rod and wire mill, giving Pittsburgh Steel an annual capacity of 403,000 tons of pig iron and 694,000 tons of steel ingots.

The company enjoyed some of its most prosperous years during World War I, and by 1920 the Pittsburgh Steel complex sprawled over 160 acres and consisted of two rod mills, two wire-drawing mills, a barbed wire mill, a nail mill, three galvanizing plants, a welded fence factory, and a department specializing in "wire fabric" for strengthening concrete roads. During this period the firm established itself as a manufacturer of seamless tubing, selling this product to boiler manufacturers and to locomotive builders. Sales to the automobile industry were especially lucrative. In 1986 Wheeling-Pittsburgh declared bankruptcy and subsequently the Sharon Steel Corporation acquired the Monessen works. It currently produces coke and by-products, pig iron, steel ingots, blooms, and billets, rounds for seamless tubes, slabs, rails, and structural sections.

Much of the plant was demolished and only the coke plant, a rail mill, and a few office buildings remained after Sharon Steel took over. The rail mill was closed in 1987. In 2009 the Coke works closed.