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Chapter 1

An eight-inch-wide, 10-pound iron meteorite. Such meteorites were the first source of workable iron for humans. Credit: Wikimedia/Creative Commons

Chinese cast iron figure: Chinese developed cast iron as early as 500 BC and used it for centuries. This statue dates from the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). Credit: Los Angeles County Museum of Art

Damascus steel blade: A reproduction of Damascus Steel. Image Credit: Creative Commons/Ralf Pfeifer

A Catalan furnace was an improvement over Roman technology. Here, bellows enter from the lower right. Image Credit: Public domain

Japanese swords from the 16th century. Patterns along the blades differed sword to sword. Image Credit: Eric Bossick for Unique Japan

Artisty along the cutting edge of a Japanese sword. Image Credit: Eric Bossick for Unique Japan

Medieval armor was made from wrought iron pounded to a steel upper layer. Image Credit: Walters Art Museum

Georgius Agricola's De Re Metallica translated from Latin by President Herbert Hoover. Image Credit: Project Gutenberg

Coalbrookdale by Night. Coalbrookdale, northwest of Birmingham, became an important cast iron center in 18th-century England. Image Credit: Science Museum/Science and Society Picture Library, United Kingdom

In the 1780s, Henry Cort developed a means of refining cast iron into wrought iron. Image Credit: Wikimedia/NYC Digital Collection

In an early puddling furnace, coal did not touch the iron but the routed flame passing over raised the iron to a workable temperature. Image Credit: Public domain

The Crystal Palace opened in London in May 1851 to great celebration and exhibited breakthrough technologies of the age. Image Credit: Library of Congress

Crystal Palace interior: One wing of the Crystal Palace showing industrial products. Image Credit: Library of Congress

Chapter 2

Chapter 2

William Kelly: Wikimedia/public domain

William Kelly. Image Credit: Wikimedia/public domain

A water-wheel bellows stokes a Saugus, Massachusetts blast furnace. Men dumped in materials from an uphill ramp. Image credit: National Park Service/Harpers Ferry Center Commissioned Art Collection

Attempting to make better cannon barrels, Henry Bessemer launched the age of steel. Image Credit: Shutterstock

Bessemer's converter tilted to admit pig iron and again to pour out steel but was upright when air blew through the bottom and up through the molten pig iron. Image Credit: Wikimedia

A Bessemer Converter "blow" about 1900; the roar and the light were tremendous. Image Credit: Library of Congress

Homestead Strike. Harper's Weekly depicted angry Homestead steelworkers accosting Pinkerton men and burning their barges. Image Credit: Library of Congress

Bethlehem Steel workers at a "Blow": Men at Bethlehem Steel gather around a Bessemer converter. Image Credit: Dundalk-Patapsco Neck Historical Society and Museum

Pittsburgh housing and mills. A child and a woman emerge from steelworker housing near Pittsburgh in a photograph about 1909 by Lewis Hine. Image Credit: George Eastman House, International Museum of Photography and Film

Krupp munitions works. The Krupp steel firm made vast amounts of artillery for the German army during World War I. Image Credit: Library of Congress

Charles Schwab on the steps of the White House shortly after World War I. Schwab rose to be one of the most powerful businessmen in the world. Image Credit: Library of Congress

Jones & Laughlin steel mills outside Pittsburgh about 1910. Image Credit: Library of Congress

Charles Schwab's New York City mansion nestled on an entire block and was the largest in the city in the 1920s. Image Credit: Library of Congress

Frances Perkins meets steelworkers helping assemble the Golden Gate Bridge in 1937. Image Credit: The Frances Perkins Center, Frances Perkins Collection, Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University

The Little Steel Strike of 1937. Steel workers in South Chicago flee when police open fire in 1937. Ten workers were killed; others died while protesting at other mills. Image Credit: National Archives

Sparrows Point from the air. After the Second World War, steel mills such as this Bethlehem plant at Sparrows Point, Maryland, brought wages and prosperity to  American communities. Image Credit: Dundalk-Patapsco Neck Historical Society and Museum

Chapter 3

Great Lakes from space. The Great Lakes compose a vast waterway for iron ore from the Lake Superior region to steel mills further south. Image Credit: NASA Visible Earth Image

Mining hamlets along the Iron Range were frontier towns. Image Credit: Library of Congress


A young iron miner stands next to Minnesota's Hull-Rust open pit mine in 1941. A railroad engine puffs along the mine floor. Image Credit: Library of Congress

Iron Range region. Prominent iron veins show as dark streaks on this map of the Lake Superior region. Image Credit: United States Steel Corporation

Grinding mills of a taconite plant near the iron mines convert taconite rock to slush. The slush is then turned into pellets. Image Credit: Cliffs Natural Resources

Superior taconite docks. Iron ore boats take on loads of taconite pellets at the docks of Superior, Wisconsin.

An iron ore boat leaves Duluth for the expanse of Lake Superior and its trip "down the lakes." Image Credit: Mark Ryan

The George A. Stinson was built as a thousand-foot-long "self-unloader." Image Credit: Roger LeLievre

A guest lounge on a modern Great Lakes iron ore boat. Image Credit: Roger LeLievre

Launched in 1958, the Edmund Fitzgerald was 730 feet long and was a classic iron ore boat with her pilot house forward. Image Credit: Roger LeLievre

An iron ore boat under heavy seas on the Great Lakes. Image Credit: Fred Hill, Photographer, Sault St. Marie, Michigan

The Arthur M. Anderson in wintertime. Named for a director of US Steel and part of the corporation's fleet, it is still in service. Image Credit: Roger LeLievre

A self-unloader eases into the Poe Lock at Sault Ste. Marie. Thousands of ships transit locks here every year. Image Credit: Heritage Center, Ltd., Photo by Wayne Chandler

The St. Marys River from space. Whitefish Bay is at upper left and the city of Sault Ste. Marie nearby. Lake Huron is at the bottom. Image Credit: NASA

A guest bed room on a modern Great Lakes iron ore boat. Image Credit: Roger LeLievre

Using its movable boom, a "self-unloader" discharges taconite pellets ashore. Image Credit: Roger LeLievre

Chapter 4

Ships bring raw materials to yards alongside blast furnaces. Image Credit: Dundalk-Patapsco Neck Historical Society and Museum

A long line of coke ovens at Sparrows Point roasted coal into coke. Image Credit: Dundalk-Patapsco Neck Historical Society and Museum

Hot coke is pushed out of a coke oven into a waiting rail car. Image Credit: Dundalk-Patapsco Neck Historical Society and Museum

The L blast furnace at night. It produced iron continuously all day and all night year after year. Image Credit: Dundalk-Patapsco Neck Historical Society and Museum

The L blast furnace at Sparrows Point was built with two cast houses, left and right, and four troughs for liquid iron. Image Credit: Dundalk-Patapsco Neck Historical Society and Museum

A blast furnace accepts materials at the top and, during a cast, spews liquid iron and liquid slag from the bottom. Image Credit: Library of Congress

When a tapping drill is withdrawn from a tap hole, sparks fly and liquid iron bursts into a cast house trench. Image Credit: Shutterstock

A blast furnace cast house. Liquid is flowing from the furnace bottom toward a trough covering. Image Credit: Viktor Macha

Molten pig iron gushes out of a tap hole into a trench. Image Credit: Lucien Schilling

Molten pig iron flows past workers on its way to the cast house edge. Image Credit: Shutterstock

During a blast furnace cast, liquid pig iron flows into a submarine car. Image Credit: Library of Congress

Chapter 5

A sketch of an open hearth shop showing its varied elements, including the charging side and the pouring side, or "the "Pit." Image Credit: United States Steel Corporation

Open hearths align one after another along the charging side of this building. Image Credit: United States Steel Corporation

A ladle pours liquid pig iron into a runner that leads into an open hearth. Image Credit: United States Steel Corporation

Molten steel pours from a furnace; some slag jostles on top. Image Credit: Shutterstock

Schematic of a two-vessel Basic Oxygen Furnace (BOF) shop. Image Credit: United States Steel Corporation

A scrap charger delivers scrap steel to a waiting BOF. Image Credit: Courtesy of the National Canal Museum/Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor, Easton, Penn.

High-speed oxygen makes a tremendous agitation inside a BOF. image Credit: Bethlehem Steel

With the BOF tilted forward and a shield to protect them from heat, men probe for samples from the liquid steel. Image Credit: Courtesy of the National Canal Museum/Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor, Easton, Penn.

A BOF, upright and with oxygen flowing in, spews excess and lights up the gap between its upper lip and the exhaust hood above. Image Credit: Shutterstock

A BOF fully tilted forward reveals its hellish interior and emits superheated gases. Image Credit: Shutterstock

When steel is tapped from a furnace it runs swiftly as water. Image Credit: Nucor

A ladle full of liquid steel lets some drain through a controlled opening to fill ingot molds. Image Credit: Arcelor Mittal

Chapter 6

Schematic of a universal mill. Image Credit:  United States Steel Corporation

Steel emerges from an early stage rolling mill. Image Credit: Courtesy of the National Canal Museum/Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor, Easton, Penn.

Schematic of a continuous caster. Steel enters as a liquid, is turned to horizontal, then emerges as a solid as it is cut off by a traveling torch. Image Credit: Bethlehem Steel

Slabs emerge from a double-line continuous caster. Image Credit: Arcelor Mittal

Still glowing with heat of more than a thousand degrees, steel moves through massive rollers pressing a shape. Image Credit: Nucor

Seem from a control room, hot steel speeds through multi-stand rolling machines, each pressing the steel slightly thinner. Image Credit: SMS Siemag

Seven roll stands press and spew sheet steel with ever increasing speed. Replacement rolls wait in foreground. Image Credit: Bethlehem Steel

Deflection in straight rolls leaves a crowned product (left), but crowned rolls leave a straighter product (right). Image Credit: Yellow Dot Designs

Sheet steel entering at top-left spins clockwise at high speed in a coiler. Image Credit: SMS Siemag

An iron-carbon phase diagram. For 0.3% carbon in iron, for example, liquid first cools to the γ phase at about 2800 degrees, then the α phase at about 1300 degrees trapping carbon in Fe3C grains among the pure iron crystals. Image Credit: From Introduction to Physical Metallurgy by Sidney H. Avner (1964, 1974), reprinted by permission of McGraw-Hill Education

When carbon steel cools to below 1,350 Fo the crystal structure shifts from face-centered-cubic (left) to body-centered-cubic (right), in the process decreasing the distance between edges of the corner iron atoms and thus expelling carbon atoms. The orphaned carbon atoms must make new carbon-iron configurations, which are harder than f-c-c crystals from with they were expelled. Image Credit: Yellow Dot Designs

Sheet steel receives final pressing and treatment in a process called cold rolling. Image Credit. Arcelor Mittal

Part of a cold rolling shop: Cold rolling of long sheet steel begins and ends in a coiler. Image Credit: SMS Siemag

Coils are banded and stored ready for shipment to customers. Image Credit: SMS Siemag

Chapter 7

Lorain Journal page: Postwar steelmaking involved labor negotiations every few years. Here, a strike is heralded in 1949. Image Credit: Lorain (Ohio) Morning Journal

Electric furnace in a mini-mill: Mini-mills mainly use electric arc furnaces to make steel, mostly from loads of scrap iron and steel. Image Credit: Nucor

Spectators watch the demolition of blast furnaces at the US Steel works in Youngstown in 1982. Image Credit: Vindicator Printing Company

Lakshmi Mittal built up the largest steelmaking company in the world. Image Credit: Arcelor Mittal

Some things made of steel. Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons by Sylius Barvinok