Education: Heritage Discovery Center

Johnstown Area Heritage Association
Primary Source: Photo Gallery

Cambria Iron and Steel "Bosses"

Supervisors, Owners, and Managers

Big changes transformed the iron industry after the Civil War. In the early 1800s the ironmaster headed his small team of workers at his stone furnace out in the country.

Railroads needed much more iron than these small furnaces could produce. In the 1850s, businessmen like Daniel Morrell built many furnaces near the railroad tracks and hired many ironmasters and their crews to work one big factory.

Then, the railroads wanted steel -- a stronger form of iron -- and lots of it! William Kelly in Johnstown and Henry Bessemer in England figured out how to convert large batches of iron into steel. The Kelly and Bessemer Converters were huge machines and many more workers who didn't need to know all the steps of making iron, like the old ironmaster did. Instead, engineers created the chemical "recipes" for steel and designed the machinery to make it. Supervisors and foremen hired and trained the workers. Managers and executives made the deals to sell the products and buy raw materials to make more. They didn't work in the factories; they worked in offices downtown. The workers called them the "bosses" or "management." How were the jobs and lives of the bosses different from the workers'?

Click on the images below to view a larger image. To help you see as much as possible from these photographs, use the tool "Reading a Photograph."


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