Steelworker Oral History Project

"The steel legacy in this region must not be forgotten." How many times have we heard someone say this? And even though we know the memories of steelworkers need to be preserved, how do we do this? What do we do with the wealth of information we receive?

This year, the Rivers of Steel Heritage Area received funding from the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission and the Pennsylvania Heritage Parks Program to conduct and record oral history interviews of former steelworkers in our seven-county region. The recordings and their transcripts will be made available to the public through the Rivers of Steel archives.

This project is preserving first-hand accounts of the life of the region¹s steelworkers and creating a valuable research resource not only for students and scholars but also educators, historical societies and residents wanting to learn more about the region, its people and heritage.

This on-going project is under the direction of Ron Baraff, Project Manager, and Julie Throckmorton, Folklife Consultant and interviewer

People who have been interviewed for the Steelworker Oral History Project include:

Frances Busch of Munhall (Allegheny County): father-in-law ran the machine shop at US Steel Homestead Works;

August "Gus" DiMarzio, Jr. of Ambridge (Beaver County): machinist (rollturner) at LTV/J&L Aliquippa;

Frances "Bambi" Kolakowski of Coraopolis (Allegheny County): Human Resources at LTV/J&L, Aliquippa;

George Kross, Jr. of Beaver Falls (Beaver County): Executive Vice-President of Babcock and Wilcox, Beaver Falls;

Richard "Dick" Grace of McKeesport (Allegheny County): crane repairman at National Works, McKeesport;

Joe Kubicar of Pittsburgh (Regent Square): various laborer jobs at Duquesne Works, Braddock;

George and Isabelle Monk of Whitaker (Allegheny County): George was a bricklayer, an estimator, and labored in the open hearth of the US Steel Homestead Works;

Richard and Kathleen Andrejchak of Dravosburg (Allegheny County): Richard was a general foreman who worked in the 160", 45", and 48" Mills of the Homestead Works;

Betty Esper of Homestead: messenger and worked in the office at Homestead Works;

Robert "Bob" McFeely of East Pittsburgh: masonry work at Edgar Thomson Works;

Edward and Anna Marie Sninsky of Munhall: Ed worked as a laborer in the Open Hearth Department at the Homestead Works, and later was in management with Jones and Laughlin Steel Company;

John (Glenn) Howis and Marge Howis: Glenn worked as a metallurgical engineer at US Steel in Donora;

Ed and Cindy Murphy of Aliquippa (Beaver County): Ed worked as a management trainee, in the by-product coke plant, and as assistant turn foreman and manager of human resources at J&L/LTV and J&L Structural;

Charles Townsend of Darlington (Beaver County): various labor jobs at J&L in Aliquippa and Crucible Steel in Midland;

Herb Edwards of Donora (Washington County): worked in the open hearth labor gang and as a stripper at US Steel Duquesne Works;

Mildred Churma of Homestead (Allegheny County): worked at US Steel Homestead Works;

Dan Swartz of California (Washington County): shear operator in the oil well and tubing productions at Wheeling-Pitt, Allenport;

Rex Downie of Beaver Falls (Beaver County): laborer at Babcock and Wilcox, Beaver Falls;

Mike Bisegna of Pittsburgh (Swissvale): worked as a laborer, a labor foreman, and a track foreman at Carrie Furnaces in Rankin;

Wayne Cadman of South Park (Allegheny County): worked as a utility analyst at Homestead, as an engineer and an assistant superintendent at Duquesne Works and Edgar Thomson Works, and a field service engineer and in the quality department at Westinghouse;

Chuck and Becky Bobich, Bill Garber of Jacobs Creek (Westmoreland County): Chuck worked in the open hearth and electric shop at Wheeling-Pitt, Monessen;

Richard and Cathy Haydusko of Pittsburgh (Baldwin Borough): Rich worked in Plant Protection at US Steel Homestead Works;

Nat Youngblood of West Middletown (Washington County): artist who did a lot of promotional art for the steel industry;

Andrew and Marcie Muha of West Mifflin (Allegheny County): Andrew was a machinist and tool and die maker at Mesta Machine in West Homestead;

Delores May (Shaw) Zatorsky, George Czakoczi, T. Earl and M. Jane Mousseau, and Annetta Porter Graham: George and Earl worked at Homestead Works and were also members of the United States Steel Homestead Works Male Chorus; Annetta was the Chorus accompanist;

Bill Varley of Export (Allegheny County): worked as an engineer in the US Steel Homestead Works and Westinghouse;

Ed and Ruth Budosh of Hyde Park (Westmoreland County): Ruth's husband was a pattern maker at Wean United in Vandergrift, and Ed made rolled steel for US Steel in Vandergrift;

Mary Jane Hermansderfer, Margaret (Peggy) Katrincsak, and Ruby Cunningham of Munhall (Allegheny County): all worked in the offices at Homestead Works;

Regina Kowalski of Pittsburgh (Millvale): worked as a "Rosie the Riveter" performing various labor jobs during World War II at Homestead Works.

Irvin (Gene) Smail of Leechburg (Armstrong County): worked as a nuclear technician at Babcock and Wilcox in Apollo;

Jeff Hirtz of Buffalo Township (Butler County): currently works on the induction furnace at the 87 Melt Shop in Natrona at Allegheny Ludlum Brackenridge Works;

Allen and Retha Knappenberger of Leechburg (Armstrong County): Allen worked as a pick-up boy in Apollo Sheet Mill and as a machinist at US Steel Vandergrift;

Kenneth and Marie Cook of West Leechburg (Armstrong County): Ken worked as a pattern maker at Hawk Pattern in West Leechburg, Unity Pattern in Unity, and Latrobe Pattern in Latrobe;

Clifford Bennett of Hyde Park (Allegheny County): worked as a machinist and a foreman and then became superintendent of the Hyde Park Foundry Machine Shop;

J. Kevin Jones of Hyde Park (Allegheny County): worked as a laborer, in the laboratory, in statistics, and as a production supervisor at Allegheny Ludlum in West Leechburg;

Dale, Virginia, and Robert Mangus of North Apollo (Armstrong County): Dale worked at Apollo Steel and US Steel Vandergrift;

Herbert Eckman of Apollo (Armstrong County): worked as a clerk in the sheet mill office in Apollo Steel and in inspection at Allegheny-Ludlum in West Leechburg (Armstrong County);

George Cirka of Baden (Beaver County): worked as a laborer, car checker, millwright, timekeeper and schedule clerk, medical clerk, and workman's comp clerk at J&L/LTV Steel in Aliquippa;

Clyde Piquet of Industry (Beaver County): worked as a pattern maker at McIntosh-Hemphill in Midland (Beaver County);

Emma Rocco of Beaver (Beaver County): worked as a laborer during World War II at J&L Steel in Aliquippa;

Virgil D'Ottavio of Aliquippa (Beaver County): worked as a laborer, crane-follower, craneman, in the electrical gang, in the motor room, and as a foreman at J&L Steel in Aliquippa.

Also, recordings were made of the following meetings: Steelworkers' Organization of Active Retirees (SOAR) meetings in McKeesport, Braddock, and Homestead.


The 45-Inch Mill

The 45-Inch Mill
Constructed in 1942 as part of Homestead's World War II expansion, the 45-inch mill was in operation until the early 1980s.