13 February 2014

Those Places Thursday: Lukens Steel Mill

Lukens Steel Mill - now ArcelorMittal - is the oldest continuous running steel mill in the Nation! It can trace its origin to 1793 when Issac Pennock founded The Founding Slitting Mill. He partnered with Jesse Kersey in 1810 forming the Brandywine Iron Works and Nail Factory. Pennock, after a few years, bought out Kersey, who by the way was the son in law of Coatesville founder Moses Coates. Pennock then leased it to his own son in law, Dr. Charles Lloyd Lukens.

A year after Lukens became involved with the business, the company was the first US mill to produce boilerplates. Thus began their involvement with the shipping industry.

Daddy didn't talk a lot about the mill but from time to time there would be some news story about a sub or a ship. He would make a comment like "It'll hold if that steel came from us!" Daddy was a UT inspector for years at the mill. After high school, the only time he wasn't working at the mill would have been when he was drafted and served in Vietnam.
He was one of many family members to have worked at the mill at some point. His father and grandfather worked there. His brother worked there awhile. My grandfather's brothers all worked there. My grandmother's father worked there as well. Numerous cousins worked there. Some still do.
Anyway - I digressed.

Lukens - as you may have guessed - is full of firsts. So fast forward to 1825.  Charles Lukens died, leaving his wife Rebecca Lukens the mill. She made history as the first woman to ever be a part of the iron industry and the first chief executive officer of an industrial company. She saved the company from bankruptcy.

She retired in 1847 and her son in law Abraham Gibbons took over management of the company. The mill was then renamed A. Gibbons and Company. Dr. Charles Huston, Gibbons brother in law and Rebecca's other son in law, joined Gibbons and they renamed the mill Gibbons and Huston. Gibbons left to explore other opportunities. Huston's wife Isabella joined in the family business and the company name changed again. When Rebecca passed, they renamed the mill Lukens Rolling Mill. In 1890 they finally incorporated the business and named it Lukens Iron and Steel.

Over the years the company grew and expanded and achieved many more firsts. Seeing how long this is already though, next week ... more to come!

A great resource is the National Iron & Steel Heritage Museum, a project of the Graystone Society. The museum's website is http://www.steelmuseum.org/index.cfm.

Locations listed are located in Pennsylvania (USA), unless otherwise noted in post.