The distinctive William D. Mansfield Bridge, completed just after World War II, crosses the Monongahela River to connect McKeesport with Dravosburg and West Mifflin.

Blast furnaces at U.S. Steel’s National Works in McKeesport, as shown on a 1960s postcard (author’s collection)

“Truth is not only stranger than fiction,” said newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst, “it is more interesting.”

Historians give Hearst a mixed review for the amount of “truth” he actually recorded in his newspapers. But he was right: The true stories behind historical events are often more interesting than the rumors and legends.

The steel industry’s rise and fall in the Monongahela Valley is prey to a number of legends, myths and rumors itself, and the stories that are told often depend on who’s doing the telling:

People on the left will say the corporations who owned the steel mills around McKeesport failed to invest in them because they were greedy, and they abandoned them when they could no longer take away fat profits.

People on the right will say that lazy, privileged unionized workers made outrageous wage and benefit demands on steel plant owners that made it impossible for the companies to compete.

Their is an element of truth in each point of view, but the real stories are more complicated, and yes, more interesting.

As part of an ongoing project throughout 2007 and 2008, Tube City Online will try to write histories of many of the steel mills and fabricators around McKeesport, as well as a little bit of the basic history of steel and ironmaking in the region.

This is a major undertaking, and your patience is appreciated.

If you have something you’d like to contribute—a story, a photo, or something else—please email me at first initial, last name at gmail dot com.

Jason Togyer

National Works:

Plant History Brochure (added March 2009)

Employee Memories:

Duquesne Works:

Plant History Brochure (added September 2009)

U.S. Iron and Tinplate Co.

The ‘Tinplate Liar’ of McKeesport (August 2007)

Fort Pitt Steel Casting Co.

Fort Pitt Steel Casting Co. (July 2007)