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A native of Nunfermline, Scotland, Andrew Carnegie emigrated to the United States alongside his parents in 1848. A successful businessman who got his start as a telegrapher and bond salesman, he built the Pittsburgh company of Carnegie Steel Company, which he would later sell to J. P. Morgan in 1901 for $480 million, the equivalent of approximately $13.2 billion in 2012, which would lay the foundations for US Steel Corporation. Carnegie was also an early investor in steam, helping to publicize the use of steam in the United States. Carnegie's company, Carnegie Steam Corporations, was founded in 1884 and utilized locally smelted steel to create cheap steam-powered devices for the government and the public alike. Carnegie would dedicate the remainder of his life toward large-scale philanthropy, helping to build libraries and other public works across the nation. He would also build the famous concert venue of Carnegie Hall in New York City.
Andrew Carnegie was born in a small weaver's cottage in Dunfermline, Scotland, which his family shared with the neighboring family. After a series of hardships, Carnegie's father decided to move the family to the United States, hoping to find better opportunities for his family. In 1848 the family moved to Allegheny, Pennsylvania. Living among a poor area, Carnegie worked in a cotton mill at a Pittsburgh cotton factory.
Carnegie began working as a telegram messenger boy, starting in 1850, to the Pittsburgh Office of the Ohio Telegram Company. Carnegie soon distinguished himself as a hard worker, paying close attention to the demands of his job. His capacity, his willingness for hard work, his perseverance, and his alertness soon brought forth opportunities.In 1853 Thomas A. Scott began employing Carnegie as a secretary and telegram operator for the Pennsylvania Railroad Company. Carnegie would eventually rise to the rank of superintendent of the Pittsburgh Division. Carnegie learned much about management and cost control during these years, and from Scott in particular. With Scott's help Carnegie would also make some of his first investments, mostly within the railroad industry.
Carnegie continued to supervise the railroads throughout the American Civil War, serving as Superintendent of the Military Railways and the Union Government's telegraph lines in the East. Carnegie left the railroad industry after the war to devote his attention to the ironworks trade. Several foundries were developed by Carnegie, including the Keystone Bridge Works and the Union Ironworks. Carnegie would continue to keep close relations with Thomas A. Scott and J. Edgar Thomson, from the Pennsylvania Railroad Company, using his connections with the two men to acquire contracts for his companies.
The Pennsylvania Railroad Company would compete after the Civil War to rebuilt lines all across the nation. Scott would become president of the Texas and Pacific Railway, building a line to El Paso, Texas. Because of the maneuvering of rival companies, the line would never reach El Paso. Despite Scott’s best efforts to make his investments profitable, Pennsylvania Railroad continued to lose money in the 1870s, eventually being replaced by other companies. Starting in the 1870's the introduction of steam-powered trains, particularly the Fairchild Locomotive, begin to reach the United States, further replacing Scott's locomotives.
Empire of Steel
Despite the decline of the Pennsylvania Railroad Company, Carnegie continued to be successful through the ironworks industry, providing iron to railroads and steam-powered locomotives.
Carnegie became an early advocate for the large-scale production of steel, eventually making his fortune in the steel industry. Carnegie would control the most extensive integrated iron and steel operations ever owned by an individual in the United States. By adopting and modifying the Bessemer process for steel making, which allowed the high carbon content of pig iron to be burnt away in a controlled and rapid way, Carnegie was able to cheaply and efficiently produce large quantities of steel. Carnegie also integrated all suppliers of raw materials, lowering costs, and invested in Prometheus-powered mechanics to run machines. In the late 1880's, Carnegie Steel was the largest manufacturer of pig iron, steel rails, and coke in the world, with a capacity to produce approximately 2,000 tons of pig metal per day.
This capacity would continue to grow, starting with Carnegie's acquisition of the Homestead Steel Works, which included an extensive plant served by tributary coal and iron fields, a 425-mile (685 km) long railway, and a line of lake steamships. Carnegie combined his assets and those of his associates in 1892 with the launching of the Carnegie Steel Company. By 1889, the U.S. output of steel exceeded that of the UK, rivaled only by the Holmes Steel Corporation in England. Carnegie's empire grew to include the J. Edgar Thomson Steel Works, Pittsburgh Bessemer Steel Works, the Lucy Furnaces, the Union Iron Mills, the Union Mill (Wilson, Walker & County), the Keystone Bridge Works, the Hartman Steel Works, the Frick Coke Company, and the Scotia ore mines. Carnegie, through Keystone, supplied the steel for and owned shares in the landmark Eads Bridge project across the Mississippi River at St. Louis, Missouri (completed 1874). This project was an important proof-of-concept for steel technology, which marked the opening of a new steel market.