Archive for the tag 'iron industry'

Combination in the Mining Industry by Henry Raymond Mussey: a short review

A great book, written as a Columbia doctoral dissertation. Mussey’s contention is that market forces consistently forced prices down on Great Lakes iron ore over the course of the nineteenth century, which inevitably led to high capital outlays and in turn led to consolidation on the ranges and domination of the mining industry by the steelmakers. It logically ought, he argued, to lead to complete domination by a single firm, though he retreats from that conclusion.

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The Autobiography of John Fritz: a review

Bessemer steel process pioneer John Fritz describes some of the crucial events in his life. These include every change of employer, the erection of the first three-high rail mill (much more dramatic than I’d imagined), and the early history of the Bethlehem Steel. There’s considerable technical information in some chapters, and more discussion than I’d anticipated about office politics.

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American Iron by Robert B. Gordon: a review

This is an interesting book that mixes high-level overview, illustrative anecdotes, and technological detail surprisingly well. At heart this is a high-level survey of the development and decline of the North American iron industry from its Virginia origins through its eclipse by Big Steel as the twentieth century began. But there’s a concurrent technical essay about the development–and shortcomings–of the mastery of various technologies over the course of the period. Both stories are told with examples from the historical record which demonstrate the analytical points the author is making. One important point Gordon makes is that the charcoal iron industry’s survival into the steel era was not the result of ignorance, and that American ironworkers generally kept up to date on current technology.

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Ironwood, Hurley, and the Gogebic Range by Matthew Liesch: a review

This book is “based on” Liesch’s Masters Thesis at UW-Madison, so (as you’d expect) he knows his material. Occasionally the thesis peeks through, but in the main the book is a well-selected set of photographs documenting the boom and bust life of the mining district.

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The Iron Ores of Lake Superior (1923) by Crowell and Murray: a short review

Absolutely essential if you’re studying iron ore shipping on the great lakes, or iron mining along the shores of Lake Superior. This book contains a surprising, and wonderful, amount of information about individual mines, and about the companies which ran those mines.

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