SIA 2009 Conference – Pittsburgh, PA

SIA 2009 Annual Conference
Pittsburgh, PA
May 28-31, 2009

Once home to the greatest regional concentration of blast furnaces, steel mills, and coal mines in the country, the Pittsburgh area is now one of the nation’s leading high-tech centers. Certain sectors of American manufacturing have evolved away from the heavy, hot, labor-intensive, production model of the last 150 years towards a more controlled, clean, automated, and high- tech model. Few American former heavy industry centers better exemplify this shift in de-industrialization than Pittsburgh.
We will explore the rapid changes to Pittsburgh and American industry by traveling the once mighty network of railroads, cruising the rivers that connected Pittsburgh industries, and touring some of the manufacturing plants showcasing new American technologies. We will visit former sites of heavy industry commemorated by a strong heritage community, such as the now preserved Carrie Furnaces, the Drake Oil Well celebrating its 150-year anniversary, and Dunlap’s Creek Bridge, the first cast iron bridge in the U.S., celebrating its 170-year anniversary. We will also visit several areas where heavy industry still dominates, as well as brownfields in various states of restoration and reuse. This conference should be especially enlightening to those who have visited Pittsburgh with the SIA in the past.

EARLY BIRD TOURS – Thursday, May 28, 2009
NOTE: Given current economic conditions, some sites may withdraw by May and will be replaced. Undersubscribed tours may be cancelled, so be sure to rank your preferences on your registration form. As of this posting, hard-hats will be provided as needed and site photography has not been determined. Check your confirmation letter for final details.

1. A THREE FOR: ONE FORGE, ONE RARE DRILL, ONE MAN’S OBSESSION: Full day tour. Ellwood Quality Steel, one of North America’s leading steel suppliers, is the first stop on this all day tour that takes you from the EQS’s Forge and Machine Shop to two singular industrial heritage museums: The Harlansburg Station Museum of Transportation, one man’s dream to preserve an eclectic array of artifacts related to air, rail, and auto transportation, and the Little Beaver Historic Society, housed in the oldest train station in the country and home to one of the few remaining Keystone Drillers, a portable steam well drilling machine patented in 1880. Lunch at local New Castle restaurant is included with the tour. (7:30 am – 5:30 pm)

2. OHIO RIVER NAVIGATION: Full day tour. Travel by bus for walking tours of the three oldest lock and dam facilities on the Ohio River. Dashields Locks and Dam, built in 1929, has the only concrete, fixed crest dam on the Ohio. Montgomery Locks and Dam has the first vertical lift gate dam on the Ohio, built in 1934. Emsworth Locks and Dam is the oldest facility on the river, dating from 1922. Their main lock chambers at 600’ long are half the length of the rest of the modernized Ohio System, but are reminiscent of the historic lock size established here by the Army Corps in 1885. If time allows, the tour will stop at Old Economy Village, the Pennsylvania State Museum preserving the Harmonist Society communal buildings in Economy along the Ohio River. (9:00 am – 5:00 pm)

3. RIVER OF COAL: Full day tour. Throughout the late 19th and early 20th centuries the Monongahela River carried a greater tonnage than any other inland river in America. The “Eight-foot,” “Pittsburgh,” or “River” vein of coal extending south from Pittsburgh deep into West Virginia has provided premium quality metallurgical coal for well over 100 years and to places as far-flung as Cincinnati, Memphis and New Orleans. The “River of Coal” tour will travel a circuit of some 150 miles through this coal region, never more than a few miles from an active or abandoned mining operation. Along the way, we will visit a river navigation maintenance facility which was later re-used for the manufacture of mining equipment and now produces a unique selection of wooden toys; the first cast-iron bridge built in America; a belt-driven machine shop and foundry which cast boiler grates for the river steamboats and fabricated tools and equipment for the local mines; a coal-fired electric power station with a newly installed scrubber system for pollution control; and a rail-to-barge coal transfer facility serving one of the major remaining coal mines in the “Cornerstone of the Keystone State.” (8:00 am – 5:15 pm)

4. HOMESTEAD AND BEYOND: Afternoon tour. Tour the Carrie Furnaces, a rare example of the turn-of-the-century smelting technology that catapulted the United States into its role as the steel making capital of the world. The visit to these, the oldest standing blast furnaces in the Mon Valley, is coupled with a plant tour of Galvtech, a steel galvanizing plant that was part of the 1942 ammunition plant constructed, owned and operated by the US. Navy and the Mesta Machine Company during World War II. The day concludes with a tour of Westinghouse Air Brake Technologies Corporation (Wabtec). Inspired by the ingenuity of George Westinghouse more than 135 year ago, Wabtec continues to serve the railway industry manufacturing brake subsystems and related products for locomotives, freight cars and passenger transit vehicles. Lunch-on-your-own before tour. (12:00 noon-5:30 pm)

On this video a retired steelworker talks about his experience at the old Carrie Furnaces in Pittsburgh. (The SIA will be visiting the Carrie Furnace)

5. RIVER CRUISE – Casual afternoon river tour. Walk the ½ mile from the hotel to the docks. (1:00pm – 4:00 pm)
6. AFTERNOON ARCHITECTURE WALKING TOUR – Afternoon tour. Extended architectural walking tour of downtown Pittsburgh similar to Sunday morning tour with possible excursion to the nearby Strip District. (2:00pm – 5:00pm)

CONFERENCE RECEPTION – Thursday, May 28, 2009

The reception will be held at the Senator John Heinz History Center, 0.5 miles from the conference hotel. Members who attended the 1993 conference may remember the site as the Chautauqua Ice Company Building. This impressive five-story museum houses exhibits on Pittsburgh sports, cultural, and industrial history. This evening event will include an opening program, full access to museum exhibits, hors d’oeuvres, and a not-inexpensive cash bar ($6-$7drink).
Reception Presentation by Edward K. Muller and Joel Tarr. Engineering has played a critical role in the transformation of Pittsburgh rivers from their natural form, to arteries shaped for commerce and industry, to current attempts to reshape them as an environmental setting for human recreation. Under the pressures of rapid industrialization from the 1850s through the 1920s, Pittsburgh engineered its waterways to function as infrastructure for its massive manufacturing complex and rapidly urbanizing region. We will briefly examine the engineering of the three main rivers, which turned them into a series of navigation pools, radically changed their riverine characteristics, and altered their landscape features. We will then provide a case study of the history of Nine Mile Run stream and valley, as technology transformed it from a natural setting into a waste dump for slag from the steel industry, and then reshaped it to become a locale for human recreation in a restored ‘natural’ setting.
Edward K. Muller is Professor of History and Director of the Urban Studies Program at the University of Pittsburgh. His research focuses on the history and geography of American cities with an emphasis on Pittsburgh and urban planning. Joel Tarr is Richard S. Caliguiri University Professor of History and Policy at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. In 2008, Professor Tarr received the Leonardo da Vinci Medal of the Society for the History of Technology for his outstanding contributions to the history of technology. His interests include technology and its effects on the city and environment.

On this video Andrew Masich shows Pittsburgh’s industrial history as depicted in art at the Heinz History Center. You may want to spend some of your free time at the history center.

PROCESS TOURS – Friday, May 29, 2009
NOTE: Given current economic conditions, some sites may withdraw by May and will be replaced. Undersubscribed tours may be cancelled, so be sure to rank your preferences on your registration form. As of this posting, hard-hats will be provided as needed and site photography has not been determined. Check your confirmation letter for final details.

1. DRAKE WELL & OIL HERITAGE BUS TRIP Full day tour. Join us on a bus trip planned to help celebrate the 150th anniversary (August 2009) of the drilling of the Drake Well, birthplace of the modern petroleum industry, and Pennsylvania’s oil rich history. Northwest Pennsylvania has a long heritage of oil drilling continuing into the present in places like the Allegheny National Forest. Some of the tour stops include Buckeye Pipeline and National Transit (Bear Creek), Tarr Farm, Coal Oil Johny Tour, and Titusville and Oil Museum. With the resurgence of natural gas drilling associated with the Marcellus shale, it appears that extractive industry exploration and development will continue to be an important part of Pennsylvania’s future. Our guides to this “black gold” tour will be Lois and Neal McElwee of the Oil Region Alliance. A documentary video presentation of Pennsylvania oil history is planned for the bus ride back to Pittsburgh. (Note: this will be a long-tour with several hours of bus travel. 8:00 am – 6:00 pm)

The Originial Drake Well

Todays duplicate

2. BEAVER VALLEY INDUSTRIES: TWO CENTURIES IN THE MAKING Full day tour. Tour USG’s Aliquippa site to see one of the most modern plants producing 40 different types/lengths of gypsum wallboard panels, and IPSCO Koppel Tubular Corporation Seamless Tube Mill with an annual capacity of 250,000 tons. After lunch at St. John’s Lutheran Church, built by the Harmonists in 1828, visit Old Economy Village, home of the 19th century Christian communal group, the Harmony Society, known for its piety, industrial prosperity, and ties to the region’s first rail transportation. We will conclude the tour with a brief stop to view the original American Bridge fabrication plant, once the world’s largest steel fabricator and builder of landmark bridges and skyscrapers, and a tour of the new American Bridge Company facilities. (7:15 am – 5:30 pm)
3. LIGHT RAIL, TROLLEYS, PEOPLE MOVERS, AND INCLINES Full day tour. The year 2009 marks the 150th anniversary of public transportation in Pittsburgh. On this tour you will experience the range of transit technology from one of the oldest transit lines still operating in the United States to the latest in automated transit vehicles. The tour begins with a ride on Port Authority light rail transit system to the South Hills Village Operations Control Center and South Hills Village Maintenance Facility. The next stop is the Pennsylvania Trolley Museum, an operating museum of streetcars and interurban cars which once served the Pittsburgh, Johnstown and Philadelphia areas. After that, we will visit Bombardier Transportation’s West Mifflin plant which assembles automated trains for people mover systems around the world. The tour concludes with a ride up Monongahela Incline dating from the 1870s to the top of Mt. Washington for a great view of Pittsburgh’s Golden Triangle. (8:00am – 6:00 pm)

4. MONONGAHELA RIVER NAVIGATION Full day tour. See one of the oldest and most successful river navigation systems in the nation by a combination boat and bus trip from Pittsburgh to Charleroi – 42 miles on the lower Monongahela River. The river tour will travel past numerous historic bridges, former and active steel mill sites associated with J&L and U.S. Steel, the Clairton Coke works, and will lock through Braddock Locks and Dam, the Army Corps’ most modern facility on the river. By bus, you will stop at Locks and Dam 3, the Corps’ oldest facility on the river (1907) and Locks and Dam 4, where new construction is replacing the 1930s vintage locks. Guides will assist both onboard and at the locks. Some walking will be required at the locks. The tour will be divided into two groups, both departing downtown Pittsburgh on Friday, May 29th, about 7:45 a.m. and returning by 5:15 p.m. Half will set out by boat and half by bus, each transferring to the other mode midway on the tour. (7:45am – 5:15 pm)

5. NEVILLE ISLAND Full day tour. This all-day tour will explore the industrial landscape of present day Neville Island, ranging from coke batteries and oil terminals to recycled factory buildings and a reclaimed Superfund site. Along the way we will visit an inactive cement plant, a modern FedEx distribution center, a major gasoline storage and distribution facility, a steel fabrication facility with rail, barge and truck transportation access, the site where D-Day landing craft were fabricated and assembled, and Robert Morris University’s Island Sports Center which sits on a long time municipal and industrial dump and Superfund site which was known regionally for many years as ‘poison park’. (8:30am – 5:00 pm)

Click on image to enlarge – Photograph from Jim Barrick

Overview of (part of) Neville Island, showing some of the “grit” still in place. It was taken from the top of a cement silo at Cemex, which is on the tour. In the foreground is some of the Cemex plant, then Neville Chemical (a drive-by) and the Gulf terminal (plant tour). In the middle distance are some of the old Dravo works, now converted and re-used for some of the modern industries on the tour. The bridge in the distance carries I-79 across the island. The Sport Center is at the far end of the island, out of sight in this view. All in all, Neville has a tremendous variety of old and new industries.

CONFERENCE BANQUET – Saturday, May 30, 2009

6:00 pm – 10:00 pm Banquet at Westinghouse Castle
Join us at the Westinghouse Castle in Wilmerding, PA, the corporate offices of the Westinghouse Airbrake Company from 1886 to 1985. The Castle, located in the small Monongahela community of Wilmerding, was designed by Frederick Osterling in 1886 for George Westinghouse’s company, makers of railroad and industrial pneumatic devices. The building was listed on the Nation Register of Historical Places in 1987 and is included on the Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Designations of Historic Allegheny Buildings. The castle, with fifty five thousand square feet of office and dining areas in fifty seven rooms, is constructed of Indiana limestone. The interior has the original marble floors, corridors, brass fixtures, and oak woodwork throughout including a working four-face clock tower added in 1897.

We will eat in the corporate offices, enjoy a cash bar, and have full access to the site’s museums and hidden treasures like George Westinghouse’s office, company vaults, the clock tower (only accessible via steep ladders and dirty crawl spaces), and if accessible, one of the few remaining, albeit inoperable, water-powered elevators.

It should be an interesting bus ride too. We’ll pass by the former Homestead works and the last remaining Pittsburgh blast furnace, the off-limits USX Edgar Thompson works at Braddock.

SUNDAY TOURS – Sunday, May 31, 2009

Homestead Water Tower – site of battle of Homestead
Select on image to enlarge

1. THE 1892 BATTLE OF HOMESTEAD Half day morning tour. The 1892 Battle of Homestead was a watershed moment in American labor history. Join this field trip to visit the sites involved in this dramatic conflict between labor and management: The Bost Building, where the labor leaders set up their offices and media from around the world gathered, the Pump House and Water Tower, site of the infamous battle. Just minutes away from the battlefield site is the Carnegie Library of Homestead, Andrew Carnegie’s gift to the people of Homestead to heal the wounds from the 1892 labor conflict. The tour will be led by Charles McCollester, the director of the Pennsylvania Center for the Study of Labor Relations, Professor of Industrial and Labor Relations at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, and President of the Battle of Homestead Foundation. (9:00am – 12:00 noon)

2. BICYCLE TOUR OF PITTSBURGH’S BRIDGES 3 or 6 hour morning tour. Ride a bicycle for a slow and up-close view of Pittsburgh’s riverfronts. Walk Grant Street to Golden Triangle Bike and Blade at the Mon. River under the trolley bridge. Ride 15 or 29 miles on the off-street Three Rivers Heritage Trail. Narration describes 22 bridges, riverfront industrial sites, two inclines and a river lock site. The trip includes rest stops on the South Side and North Side, where a short return may be made. Sites passed include Duquesne and Carnegie Mellon Universities, Schenley Park, South Side Works (formerly J&L Steel), stop at Station Square (formerly P&LE RR station), historic Fort Pitt, historic state prison, ALCOSAN sewage plant, casino construction, Heinz Field, stop at PNC Park, Washington’s Landing (formerly stockyards) and the Del Monte (formerly Heinz) plant. Bicycles and helmets provided (9:00am-12:00 noon or 3:00 pm). Discounts may be available at the conference if you bring your own bike and helmet—you must register and pay for the full tour first.

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 1902. Drawn by T. M. Fowler.
Library of Congress Geography and Map Division Washington, D.C. 20540-4650 USA
DIGITAL IDg3824p pm008330
Select on image to link to LOC

3. ARCHITECTURAL TOUR Half day morning tour. Pittsburgh is a city defined more so than many others by its topography–notably hills, valleys and rivers. At the forks of the Ohio River, what is now downtown or the “Golden Triangle” has always been the nexus for the commercial development of the city. Architects Jeffrey DeNinno and Michael Eversmeyer will lead walking tours through downtown highlighting how Pittsburgh made and was made by the industries and commercial ventures established here. (9:00 am – 12:00 noon).