Jones and Laughlin Steel Company

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Stack array of the Jones and Laughlin Pittsburgh Works on the south side of the Monongahela River, 1955.

The Jones and Laughlin Steel Company began as the American Iron Company, founded in 1852 by Bernard Lauth and B. F. Jones, a few miles (c 4 km) south of Pittsburgh along the Monongahela River.[1] Lauth's interest was bought in 1854 by James H. Laughlin.[2] The first firm to bear the name of Jones and Laughlin was organized in 1861 and headquartered at Third & Ross in downtown Pittsburgh.[3][4] Katharine Hepburn's maternal uncle, Frank Garlinghouse, was a longtime engineer for J&L Steel.[5]


Originally producing only iron, the enterprise began the production of steel in 1886. Over the ensuing 60 years, the company expanded its facilities and its operations along both sides of the Monongahela River and along the Ohio River. The Hot Metal Bridge across the Monongahela River was built to connect the blast furnaces (making pig iron) on one side of the river with the open hearth furnaces (making steel) on the other side of the river. In 1905, a new plant was begun at Aliquippa, Pennsylvania. The company also owned coal mines in western Pennsylvania in its early days, including some reached by an incline in Pittsburgh's South Side which connected to the railroad over the bridge adjacent to the Hot Metal Bridge. Other mines were along the nearby Becks Run, also directly connected by railroad. The incline and mines were gone before 1900, but mining continued in Pennsylvania towns such as Vestaburg and elsewhere.

In 1907, on 9 January, an explosion at the Eliza Furnace plant in the Soho district of Pittsburgh killed 13.[6] The coroner found that workers had left the gang in the preceding few days, fearing for their safety.

The former Otis Steel company along the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland was purchased in 1942, and then in the mid-1960s a finishing plant was constructed in Hennepin, Illinois.[7]

Similar explosions to the 1907 incident took place in April and May 1942, the second one resulting in two fatalities.[8]

J & L Steel (known to its employees as simply "J & L", sometimes pronounced "jane ell") provided the most able competition to the Carnegie Steel Company in the vicinity of Pittsburgh. Ling-Temco-Vought, Inc. of Texas offered to purchase 63 percent of J & L Steel on May 10, 1968.[9] An agreement was reached on May 14, and the purchase was completed for approximately $428.5 million ($3.15 billion today) by June 1968.[10] It took full control of the company in 1974.

In 1978, J & L Steel acquired Youngstown Sheet and Tube. In 1981, J & L Steel bought a stainless steel mill from McLouth Steel Products in Detroit, which was probably an attempt to try to get closer to the auto market. It merged with Republic Steel in 1984 to form LTV Steel.

J&L Coal Incline[edit]

Hot Metal Bridge, formerly used by Jones and Laughlin to transport steel across the Monongahela River

The J&L Coal Incline was a 1,300-foot (400 m) incline in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania connecting a coal mine to the J&L iron making facility. It ran from Josephine Street, between South 29th street and South 30th Street on the lower end to Sumner Street on its upper end.[11] It was supplied with coal from the American Mine, opened in 1854.[12][13]

From hot strip to mixed-use development[edit]

Dismantling of the buildings which housed J & L Steel produced an upsurge of building on the tracts of land where the buildings had stood. By September 2005, numerous new structures had been erected on both sides of the Monongahela River. The Pittsburgh Technology Center now stands on the north side of the Monongahela River where the blast furnaces once stood and the SouthSide Works, a commercial and residential development, stands on the south side where milling operations occurred. The Hot Metal Bridge has been converted into a road bridge and a pedestrian/bike bridge (which forms part of the Great Allegheny Passage). On what was once Hazelwood Works of the J & L operations, another development, Hazelwood Green is now a 178-acre mixed-use riverfront redevelopment site. Hazelwood Green was purchased in 2002 by Almono LP and was officially opened to the public in April 2019 with the public dedication of new roads - Hazelwood Avenue and Blair Street extensions - through the site. Mill 18, the last remaining structure from the Hazelwood Plant, is being refurbished to serve as a mixed use development including a robotics lab run by Carnegie Mellon University.

Historic sites[edit]

Jones & Laughlin Steel Co. is a builder of record for a number of bridges and other structures that are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.[14][15]

Works include:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Family's Fourth". Time (April 13). 1936-04-13. Retrieved 2008-08-09.
  2. ^ Ingham, John N (September 1983). Jones, Benjamin Franklin (book). ISBN 978-0-313-23908-3. Retrieved 2008-09-30.
  3. ^ "Executive Order 10340". Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum. Retrieved 3 February 2013.
  4. ^ "Jones-Laughlin Steel to be Reorganized" (PDF). The New York Times. 6 December 1922.
  5. ^
  6. ^ "Molten Steel Flood". Evening Express and Evening Mail (Sixth ed.). Cardiff (6067): 3. 10 January 1907.
  7. ^ "Boom Town 1965". Time. 1965-07-09. Retrieved 2010-05-07.
  8. ^ United States. Congress. House (1943). Hearings. U.S. Government Printing Office. p. 4.
  9. ^ "American Stock Mart Hits Record". The Spokesman-Review. May 10, 1968. p. 10.
  10. ^ "Complaint, United States v. Ling-Temco-Vought, Inc". Loyola of Los Angeles Law Review. Retrieved 3 February 2013.
  11. ^ "1916 Map of Pittsburgh (shows right of way, past the reservoir)". Retrieved 2011-04-22.
  12. ^ Wall, J. Sutton (1884). "VII mines on pool no. 1 American Mine". Report on the coal mines of the Monongahela river region from the... 40. p. 174.
  13. ^ Chance, Henry Martyn (1884). Report of Progress... p. 174. Retrieved 2008-09-08.
  14. ^ a b c d e f g h "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. July 9, 2010.
  15. ^ Highway Bridges in Nebraska MPS

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]