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Factory Town: 1908

Factory Town: 1908

Braddock, Pennsylvania, circa 1908. "Edgar Thomson Works, Carnegie Steel Co." Part of a ginormous seven-section panorama of smoke-belching, throbbing industry. 8x10 dry plate glass negative, Detroit Publishing Co. View full size.


On Shorpy:
Today’s Top 5

My dad grew up in Braddock

My dad grew up in Braddock in the 1920's. I remember a lot of his stories about how poor everyone was, but that the neighborhood helped each other. It's interesting to see the photo of this era. Thanks, Shorpy

This Coke is for You

I hate to disappoint Anonymous Tipster, but there isn't a sniff of anthracite odour on laundry or anything else in this picture. I grew up near here in the heady aroma of metallurgical coke. That's coke made from the beautiful bituminous coal that underlay most of western Pennsylvania. The railroad cars with the slatted sides on the nearest track look like open-top cattle cars, but they are empty coke cars. At this time, the best of the best coking coal came from nearby Connellsville.

When asked how we could stand the constant smoky smell, natives would say: "Smells like money to me."

U Clues

Having worked at a sister plant of this (Homestead District Works) at a summer job while in college in 1965, I believe the U shaped items may be ingot molds. The molten steel was poured in the top, and as soon as the metal solidified (still red hot) the mold was pulled off by a crane by grabbing the "ears" near the top of the mold. I suspect that the horizontal piece at the bottom of the mold was simply a device to steady two adjacent molds while they were moved about the mill by a locomotive. By the 1960's the ingot molds stood on their own and there no longer was a horizontal piece at the bottom.

This is an amazing photo, taken about 4 to 5 miles from where I was raised. Many Thanks for the trip down Memory Lane, Shorpy!

Passing Through

My aunt and uncle lived in a house much like these in a Dawson, small town down the tracks from here. Had an indoor one-holer in the basement, the only water was a pump at the kitchen sink. The main line of the B&O went right through the middle of town and about 50 feet from their house. In the 1940s we would often stay there between our moves for my dad's construction jobs and I would ride the train with my uncle to his night job in the railyards in Pittsburgh. We would pass through Braddock. It was a great adventure for an 8 year old.

Pano 2

I stitched the three right-side images using Panorama Factory:

The warping is due to artifacts of the stitching. There wasn't enough overlap to stitch the left image.

Empty Land Now

While trees obstruct the current street view in google maps, you can clearly see, from a top down perspective, the location of these pictures in Braddock, PA. Amazing that most of the land is now barren although a steel mill still exists within a much smaller footprint. Even the wonderful steel bridge is now defunct.

Mill stands

The U shaped objects in the lower left are mill stands.
Two face each other and hold work rolls, which shape the steel into its final form. There are a lot of pieces missing which would make up a mill stand.


Click here for a quick and dirty pano of these. Hover over the left side of the image to get a menu to download the full size image.

[Most impressive! Click image below for full size. Once it downloads, click a second time. - Dave]

Hardy folks.

A ball game in progress and some of the houses have open windows, even tho there's what looks like snow on the ground. Could it be ashes from the furnaces?

Vantage point today

Ironically, it seems to have been taken from what is today "Grand View Golf Club."

View Vantage Point on Braddock Steel Mill in a larger map


I bet the laundry has a nice anthracite odour to it.

Now I know

I always wondered where they made the letter U.

Game of scrub

Looks like maybe two games going of the old game of scrub which was baseball played with smaller numbers of players. We played it everyday on the playground at school during recess and lunch breaks.

Can anyone identify

The large U-shaped items in front of the little brick building on the left? They look like giant horseshoe magnets, could they be cradles for the molten steel pouring vats (retorts?)? Quite a number of them around.


The two smokestacks in the middle left of the picture have "flappers" on top of them -- like you might see on a tractor or bulldozer exhaust. I've never seen one on a large smokestack before, although these seem to be equipped with pull-down wires.

Will we get a chance

to see the full panoramic picture on Shorpy?

[Behold! - Dave]

Thank you, Dave !!

The Alternative

Yes, thriving active factory towns can be a bit ugly. But when the factories shut down they get even uglier.

The Past


Batter up!

What a terrific photo of a Pittsburgh steel mill. Even in the early 1980s mill neighborhoods looked like this, except for the trolley and the lack of business. I always enjoy finding baseball games in Shorpy photos; this one looks like it was played at noon.

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