diVecchia Camillo DiVecchio Lucia diGiovine Patsy DiVecchio Frazzini Site Home

Jones and Laughlin Steel Corporation, Aliquippa Works
Aliquippa & Southern Railroad Company
The Pittsburgh and Lake Eire Railroad

This Page last updated on .

This page started on 21 Dec 2009.

In 1906, the Jones & Laughlin Steel Corporation began construction of a large steel mill complex next to the small town of Aliquippa, PA. The mill was located along the Ohio River. My father, Patsy DiVecchio,  worked at J&L from the middle 1930's until his retirement in 1979. He worked in the Pipe Shop for most of  the time. The mill was always a place for great paying summer jobs. I worked there in 1968 for one summer. I worked in the welded tube department as a 'hooker'. My job was hook up pipe that came off the production line to a crane and direct the crane operator to put the new pipe onto the correct rack. I had to then climb up the rack and unhook the load. You had to have young legs to do that!

The mills were always called the Aliquippa Works. The town of Aliquippa, which was founded at the site of an amusement park (called Aliquippa Park) dates from the late 1800's. In 1928, the much larger Woodlawn, PA and Aliquippa merged. What was Woodlawn became Aliquippa and what was Aliquippa became West Aliquippa. The mills were still called the Aliquippa works and Woodlawn disappeared.

The mills ran along the tracks of the Pittsburgh & Lake Erie Railroad. The P&LE was a subsidiary of the New York Central. (The Pennsylvania Railroad ran along the other side of the Ohio River.)  West Aliquippa came to be called that because, as far as the P&LE was concerned, it was more western on its railroad line than Aliquippa.

The mill had its own in-house railroad, the Aliquippa & Southern Railroad. My grandfather, Camillo DiVecchio, worked for the A&S.

My model train layout is based on the Aliquippa & Southern and the Pittsburgh & Lake Erie Railroad.

He are some postcards and photos that I have of the "Mill".


Early? 1906? Blast Furnaces being built?

Early?
Town name is Aliquippa but view is from the north which means the view is from what is now West Aliquippa. This dates the card to before the merger of Aliquippa and Woodlawn or before 1928. All the open space is another clue. By the 1950's almost every inch of ground was covered with buildings.

1980ca
"Panoramic view of the J & L Steel Mill, one of the world's largest, located in the heart of Aliquippa, Pennsylvania"

Fairly modern photograph. 1960's or 70's?

May 2012. Gary Skinner sent me some additional information about this photo:

Legend on the picture I have says:

ALIQUIPPA WORKS, NORTH MILLS - 1964
Also the name: d'ARAZIEN (the Photographer I think)
The picture is 14.25" x 11.25"

Tunnel at the Wye
Rolling Mill?
Seamless Tube?
Town name is Aliquippa so this photo is from after 1928.

Colorized Postcard of above photo.

General offices
Town name of Woodlawn dates this photo to before the merger of Aliquippa and Woodlawn or before 1928.
This building was used at Aliquippa Park. It was moved to its new location and a first floor was added under the original building.
In the photo right above this one, you can see this building at the left center. The building was torn down in the late 1990's.

Blast Furnaces were given girls names when they were rebuilt:. I'm trying to figure out the names:

A-1 (1909, rebuilt 1963, 1982)  "?"
A-2 (1910, rebuilt 1970, 1985) "Marcia" From Don Inman, see email below
A-3 (1910, rebuilt 1933, 1976) "?"
A-4 (1912, rebuilt 1966, 1981)   "Judith" - from 31 Aug 1966 Beaver County Times
A-5 (1918, rebuilt 1967, 1979) "?"

Blast Furnace list and dates from:
Portraints in Steel: An Illustrated History of Jones& Laughlin Steel Corporation by David H.Wollman and Donald R. Inman.

email from Gino Piroli, Apr 2013:

Date:            Wed, 10 Apr 2013 09:48:03 -0700 (PDT)
From:            Gino Piroli <gpiroliyahoo.com>
Subject:         Re: Names of J&L Blast Furnaces

Mark:

I've been around all those blast furnaces during their life and as a pipefitter, leaving in 1967, worked on them when they were down for repair.We always called them, Numbers 1,2,3,4,and 5. Any discussion about them from J&L used the numerical designations. However despite my misgivings a conversation with Joe Letteri, a carpenter at the mill until he retired in the 80s', said that when the furnaces were rebuilt in 1963, 1970, 1966 and 1967 they gave them woman's names, I'm not sure exactly when. A widow of one of the blast furnace workers said she was aware of woman's names being used. I'm trying to find out the names and will get back to you when I do.

Gino
From: Donald Inman
Subject: Blast Furnaces
To: "Gino Piroli" <gpiroliyahoo.com>
Date: Sunday, April 28, 2013, 10:48 PM

Good evening Gino.

I have been very busy so I have not been able to do as much for you as I had hoped.  Below is what I have found so far:

     Blast Furnace # 4 was called "Judith" after Superintendent's daughter
     Blast Furnace # 2 was called "Marcia" after Superintendent's daughter

If I find anything else I will let you know

Don

Nighttime version of Postcard above.

Based on the old road at the bottom of the photo in front of the houses, this photo had to date from before it became a highway. The white car aat the center bottom appears fairly modern and is most likely postwar. That would date the photo to the 1950's. I have a slightly larger version of this photo and its interesting to look at the different railroads represented by the boxcars. Roads from all over the country.

J & L Steel - Aliquippa Works - Judith Blast Furnace

Title of Scene: "Standing 26 stories high, Judith, Jones & Laughlin's new blast furnace at Aliquippa, Pennsylvania, towers over older furnaces nearby. With a working volume of 54,000 cubic feet, she is one of the largest blast furnaces in the country. J&L's Aliquippa Works has been served by the Pittsburgh & Lake Erie since operations commenced in 1907. Today's modern mill occupies a 5 1/2 mile stretch between the P&LE's main line and the Ohio River."

Mark's note: this is Blast Furnace #4 which had just been rebuilt in 1966.

Offices, Jones & Laughlin Steel Co.,Woodlawn, PA
Jones & Laughlin Steel Co. General Office, Aliquippa Works, Woodlawn, PA

Town name of Woodlawn dates these photos to before the merger of Aliquippa and Woodlawn or before 1928.

An aerial view of the North Mill, Aliquippa Works, showing blast furnaces (center) and BOF (upper left), ca 1970.
(Courtesy of Charles Fluharty from the book Portraits of Steel)
--click on photo for large version of photo--
P&LE tracks at the left. PRR tracks on the on the other side of the Ohio.

This postcard was sent to me by Bill Gaughan in Dec of 2011.

Old steam engine that ran the Blooming Mill
J&L Steel Aliquippa Works
Sent to me by Bill Gaughan in Dec 2011 who wrote:

I got this photo off a Blooming Mill foremen at the Hopewell vets about 15 years ago. I can't remember his last name.
Dick, got a senior moment. can't remember. Don't know much about when they tore it out. I think it took 2-5000 HP.
electric motors to replace it. I don't know if the old boy is still around, if I see him I know he has alot of info.

Hi Mark, my grandfather was midnight foreman at the South Mills boiler house until he retired in 1967. I've been looking for a  snapshot of the big smokestack with "J&L" painted on it that stood over the boiler for my family scrapbook. Do you or perhaps someone you know have a photo like this? Thanks.
Dave Burgess

From: Burgess,David A.   <burgesdahotmail.com >
Sent: Friday, October 24, 2014 4:47 PM
Subject: J&L

Hi Mark, this is the J&L smokestack I wrote to you about on October 14, it’s the south mills boiler house and the tin mill, Constitution boulevard on the left. I just wish I had a better shot. If you are aware of a possible source for such a photo, please let me know thanks
Dave Burgess

(This photo from Historical Pittsburgh, a comprehensive collection of local resources that supports personal and scholarly research of the western Pennsylvania area.) Notice that Constitution Blvd appears to be a two lane road. Sometime in the 1950's or 60's, it was widened to three lanes (with a suicide passing lane) and then, later, to four lanes.

The Decline of the Aliquippa Works 1975-1990



Excerpt from the book "The Mill" by Rade B. Vikmir.



2005

I took these photos on a trip to Aliquippa in 2005.


Demolition of the mill continues.
2005

Remaining building.
2005

Pump House along the Ohio River.
2005

Old A&S trackage.
2005

Historical marker at the main entrance to the mill.

Taken from the Henry Mancini bridge looking south. Main line of the P&LE (now CSX). USG wallboard plant has replaced some (~2%) of the mill.

This was Crow Island until the channel in the Ohio River was filled in.

In 2010, Anthony Rubino sent me a couple links to photos that he took of the Mill in 2009:

http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=82896&id=725157072&l=c8f60acf75
http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=82891&id=725157072&l=d4842e39b8


Date:    Tue, 07 Apr 2015 14:53:08 -0400
Subject:    Your J&L Webpage
From:    SANFORD BEYER <sanford.f.beyergmail.com>

Mark,

I happened upon your site today and enjoyed it tremendously.  It was a real blast to our past.  Both my wife and I are former J&Lers having worked in both the Aliquippa and Pittsburgh Works.

An odd set of circumstances brought me to your website.  In early March, we suffered a frozen pipe in our home outside of Richmond, Virginia.  At the time we were hiding from the cold in Florida and a neighbor who was checking on the house informed us of our problem.  So, I came back north to mitigate the damage and start repairs.  As I was going through soggy papers, I found a warrant signed by Dave Hoag (once CEO of LTV Steel) offering an opportunity to buy LTV Steel stock.  So, out of curiosity, I started Googling LTV to see if there was anything left of the company ­ - not much. Your site came up as a related search.

It was fascinating looking at the old pictures and reading the discussion about the names of the Blast Furnaces.  I worked on A-2 ­ Marcia in 1970 when it was rebuilt.  T.B. Duckworth was the Superintendent at the time but I don¹t think Marcia was any kin to him.  I was working there as a laborer on the day Marcia was re-christened.  It was a summer day ­ July I think. The furnace was christened by a young woman ­ I don¹t remember who but I think she was daughter of one of the Vice Presidents. I was so low on the company totem pole, it might as well Miss America. But the Company brought in a bunch of big wigs in a bus.  They erected a special temporary stairway on the slag side of the cast house and the big wigs climbed out of the bus and up the steps wearing shiny new hard hats and white lab coats.  Us laborers were basically told to stay out of sight so we lined up on the overhead walkway that took us over to the Sinter Plant and our locker room. In 1970, there were no women in the mill and being such a classy bunch, you can imagine the conversation among a bunch of guys seeing women going up to the cast house.  But we all got a pretty keychain souvenir afterwards.  I wish I could find it but I think I gave it to the girlfriend du jour.

I spent four summers and winter of '73 - '74 in the mill in the Blast Furnace Dept, South Mill Boiler House and then General Labor Department while going through college.  I helped re-line Marcia during the winter of '73-'74 and I remember asking the Blast Furnace General Foreman, Ron Stephens "How do you light a Blast Furnace?"  He simply said  "With a match."

I was second generation J&L. My father was the Supervisor of Technical Training and I believe he knew Don Inman.  After college and four years in the Army, I returned to the mill working as a laborer in the Pre-Heat of A-5 Coke ovens.  After a short stint as an hourly guy, I went into the supervisor training program and became a foreman in the Ingot Mould Foundry in the Pittsburgh Works.  Then was transferred back to the Aliquippa Works as a Heater Foreman in the Coke Plant.  Eventually, I joined Labor Relations and met my future  wife who was a new Labor Relations representative in Aliquippa. 

We saw the handwriting on the wall and moved to Richmond VA in early 1985. The D'Arazian photo of the Pittsburgh Works Eliza Furnaces "Steel at Twilight" still hangs on our living room wall.

So thanks for taking us back to the great days of steel and reminding us of how amazing it always was to see 190 tons of molten steel being poured into a Tundish in the Strand Caster or watching ingots being rolled in the Blooming Mill.

I am attaching a picture of the belt buckle that was given to all of us for a record safety year in 1980.  I'm sure there are still some around but you won¹t find them on e-bay.

Thanks again and "Keep Your Buddy Safe".
Sanford Beyer
Mark,

Please feel free to use my e-mail and the picture of the belt buckle on your web page - I would be honored.  Th mill was a great place filled with great people.  We were all part of a great proud family.  I have not been up there for about four years now since my mother in law passed but I agree - it is depressing driving along Rt. 51 or 68 on the other side of the river and seeing nothing but the Beaver County jail.

Best Regards,
Sanford.



Aliquippa and Southern Railroad


The A&S was a subsidiary of J&L.


Photo taken about 2005

One of the few buildings remaining at the J&L site. I'm not sure if this was the headquarters of the A&S or not.

Closeup of sign on building


Pittsburgh and Lake Erie Railroad


The P&LE ran from Pittsburgh to Erie. It was part of the New York Central.


Aliquippa (formerly Woodlawn) P&LE Station

West Aliquippa (formerly Aliquippa) P&LE Station
The tracks were behind the building, down the hill.


Emails

From:    <d.h.pagancomcast.net>
Subject:    J&L rod and wire dept.
Date:    Thu, 6 Jan 2011 15:04:35 -0500

HI, Great memories on your new site Mark. I worked in the rod and wire dept. as a craneman from 1964-1982 when it shut down. My family and I lived in Sunset Hills in Economy Boro. I now live in St.Augustine since 1983 and worked for Sherwin-Williams   since 1982. until recently when I retired, but work part-time for my son who is a G.C. I miss the people there and wish I knew what became of all those great guys. I check the BVT often and talk with my bud Jim Linko (seamless tube/Anthony Wayne Terrace) often and get some info.  His daughter had twins Dec. 10.

Any news will work Thanks Mark;
Dan “Jose” Pagan

In March of 2013, I received this email:

Hi:  My name is Peter Strasenburgh.  I am with The Davies Supply Co in Chicago. I believe we used to buy from J&L.  I ran across a salesman ' hand out' from J&L to Davies.  It is from a Mr James T Smiley, product manager. The gift was two decks of playing cards. They have a "JL" logo and each are in a plastic case. The decks themselves have never been broken open and still have a stamp type seal to atest to that.  The cards were given to my Uncle (William B Davies- dec'd 1999) and I found them in an old drawer. We have many many old 'vender' (such as J&L) catalogs. I'm going to look in the next few days for one of 'yours'. I will send them along if they have meaning to you.

Regards,Peter Strasenburgh  (I'm a Davies) President/CEOThe Davies Supply Co.
Of course, I jumped at the chance and Peter sent me these

"Bill" is Peter's uncle, William B. Davies

1941                                                                                     1950

A photo from the 1941 book. Both books contains dozens of photos showing how pipe is made at the Aliquippa Works.

Dec 2013

Date:    Wed, 25 Dec 2013 20:40:18 -0500
Subject:    J& L
From:    Jonnie Bottinelli <jonniebott4gmail.com>

Hi my name is Jonnie Bottinelli  my Grandpa whom passed before I was born worked in the Mill for 16 years & I'm trying to see if anyone may remember him or may have some pictures of him, his name was John H Galloway he was a tractor operator and was a member of local 1211 United Steelworkers of America. My dad his oldest son is 70 years old and I wanted to get some pics for him because all of his was lost in a house fire. Any help would be appreciated thank you.


J&L Pittsburgh Works

This postcard is titled to be the J&L Aliquippa Works but it is not. I believe that it may be the J&L Pittsburgh Works. In the center background, you can see the skyscrapers of downtown Pittsburgh. Those buildings would not be visible from Aliquippa.

From:    "robelamm" <robelammverizon.net>
Subject:    J&L
Date:    Wed, 22 Sep 2010 01:24:34 -0400

HI, just wanted to say the last picture is of the Pittsburgh Works, J&L: If you look close in center of picture you can see the Hot Metal Bridge, that took hot metal to Southside Works, J&L. Also the track branching off to Panther Hollow.

REL


Ghost Rails X by Wayne A. Cole

The VERY best book that I have seen on the rails of the Aliquippa & Southern Railroad and J&L operations in Aliquippa. This is a monumental work.

I quote the summary of book on the bookmasters.com web page:

If you are interested in steel mills history in America Volume 10 has it all: the construction era of Jones and Laughlin steel along the Ohio River to its demise in 1985 and the complete history of the Aliquippa and Southern Railroad that built the plant and kept the 8 mile long mill and 92 miles of track operating for three quarters of a century.  The A&S would outlive its owner by another quarter of a century.  It is operating today as the Aliquippa and Ohio River Railroad.  The 336 page glossy hardback has well over 700 photos/32 pages of color from beginning to end and what remains today.




You can buy it here.





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