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

The Jones and Laughlin Steel Corporation , also known as J&L Steel or simply as J&L, was an American steel and iron manufacturer that operated from 1852 until 1968. Beginning as the American Iron Company, founded in 1852 by Bernard Lauth and Benjamin Franklin Jones, a few miles (c 4 km) south of Pittsburgh along the Monongahela River.[1] Lauth's interest was bought in 1854 by James 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]


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 on the South Side of Pittsburgh and along the Ohio River at Aliquippa. The Hot Metal Bridge across the Monongahela River was built to connect Eliza blast furnaces (making pig iron) on the Hazelwood side of the river with the open hearth furnaces (making steel) on the south 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.

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.[5]

In 1937, J&L was the subject of a landmark decision of the Supreme Court, NLRB v. Jones & Laughlin Steel Corp., which upheld the constitutionality of the Wagner Act and the Federal Government's power to regulate labor relations by way of the commerce clause. The decision forced J&L to recognize the labor rights of its employees and their right to unionize.

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. J & L also had subsidiary mills in other cities such as Los Angeles in the late 1940s. Ling-Temco-Vought, Inc. of Texas offered to purchase 63 percent of J & L Steel on May 10, 1968.[6] An agreement was reached on May 14, and the purchase was completed for approximately $428.5 million ($3.61 billion today) by June 1968.[7] It took full control of the company in 1974. As a result of the Steel Crisis and the 1973 Recession, the J & L mill in Los Angeles closed.

In 1978, J & L Steel (as a subsidiary of LTV) 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.

By the 1980s, the LTV Conglomerate began to go into decline. In 1984, J & L was merged with Republic Steel and the name of Jones and Laughlin completely disappeared.[8]

J&L Coal Incline

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.[9] It was supplied with coal from the American Mine, opened in 1854.[10][11]

From hot strip to mixed-use development

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 19, 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.



A contract for the construction of 4 blast furnaces (each 500 tons/day[12]), 22x85 feet, was awarded to the Ritter-Conley Mfg. Co. in December 1906, which at the time had under construction 4 blast furnaces of the same dimensions for Indiana Steel Co. at Gary. The new furnaces included modern skip hoist and sealing arrangement for material charging, and 2 were expected to be finished in July.1907. The furnaces were to be accompanied by 16 Kennedy-Cooper hot air stoves of 22x100 feet.[13] Furnace #3 with 4 stoves was actually ordered in May 1907.[14]

A bridge from Ambridge to Aliquippa, being designed in April 1907.[15]

From the Wisconsin Engine Company, building in April 1907, 2 cross compound engines to drive a 600kW generator.[16]

From Allis Chalmers 10 blowing engines. Also 2 250V 94rpm DC generators of 1,000kW each for various plant loads ordered in April 1907[17] and in June 1907 4 1,000kW Bullock engine type generators, a 500kW generator set, 2 Tomlinson barometric tube converters.[18]

South Side

In June 1907 construction was announced of 4 new Talbot open hearth furnaces totaling 1000 tons per day.[19]

Historic sites

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.[20][21]

Works include:

See also


  1. ^ "Family's Fourth". Time. No. April 13. 1936-04-13. Archived from the original on October 25, 2012. 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. Archived from the original on 10 April 2019. Retrieved 3 February 2013.
  4. ^ "Jones-Laughlin Steel to be Reorganized" (PDF). The New York Times. 6 December 1922.
  5. ^ "Boom Town 1965". Time. 1965-07-09. Archived from the original on January 27, 2008. Retrieved 2010-05-07.
  6. ^ "American Stock Mart Hits Record". The Spokesman-Review. May 10, 1968. p. 10.
  7. ^ "Complaint, United States v. Ling-Temco-Vought, Inc". Loyola of Los Angeles Law Review. Retrieved 3 February 2013.
  8. ^ History of Republic Steel.
  9. ^ "1916 Map of Pittsburgh (shows right of way, past the reservoir)". Retrieved 2011-04-22.
  10. ^ Wall, J. Sutton (1884). "VII mines on pool no. 1 American Mine". Report on the coal mines of the Monongahela river region from the... Vol. 40. p. 174.
  11. ^ Chance, Henry Martyn (1884). Report of Progress... p. 174. Retrieved 2008-09-08.
  12. ^ "Pittsburgh in the Pig Iron Trade". The Iron Age. Vol. 79, no. 17. 25 April 1907. p. 1279.
  13. ^ "Contract for Jones & Laughlin Furnaces". The Iron Age. Vol. 78, no. 25. 20 December 1906. p. 1705.
  14. ^ "Jones & Laughlin Steel Company..." The Iron Age. Vol. 79, no. 22. 30 May 1907. p. 1660.
  15. ^ "The Iron and Metal Trades / Pittsburgh / Structural Material". The Iron Age. Vol. 79, no. 15. 11 April 1907. p. 1148.
  16. ^ "News of the Works". The Iron Age. Vol. 79, no. 16. 18 April 1907. p. 1214.
  17. ^ "News of the Works". The Iron Age. Vol. 79, no. 17. 25 April 1907. p. 1286.
  18. ^ "News of the Works". The Iron Age. Vol. 79, no. 25. 20 June 1907. p. 1888.
  19. ^ "The Jones & Laughlin Company..." The Iron Age. Vol. 79, no. 24. 13 June 1907. p. 1814.
  20. ^ a b c d e f g h "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. July 9, 2010.
  21. ^ Highway Bridges in Nebraska MPS

Further reading