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About Us

For those of you who will never know, since the gargantuan sprawling mills are gone, the testimonies of these men and women are recorded. This is their story. You would be afraid to walk, where they toiled day-to-day. They worked their whole lives at the risk of their health, either acutely or chronically, just to live and support their families.

Theirs was a world of extremes-from the North Mill, with its red-hot steel, iron and an oppressive layer of soot to the South Mill, with its clean swept floors and gleaming finished products- tinplate, pipe and I-beams. They knew the contrast also between the blast furnace, a veritable “hell on earth”, where the hot iron flowed as the acrid smell of combustibles permeated the air contrasted with the eerie calm and darkness found working by the river at 3:00 a.m.

The Mill, The Jones and Laughlin Aliquippa Works was once the largest integrated steelmaking plant in the world. The mill no longer exists, but go stand on the site by the Ohio River and you will feel the memories and the presence of those are gone before you…I have.

In this moving personal work, Rade Vukmir vividly re-creates life in an American steel town. Relying on extensive interviews and his own experience in the industry, Dr. Vukmir offers a retrospective summary of the life and times of a diverse group of steel workers, who were the heart and soul one of America’s largest industrial facilities. Here’s the story of their hopes and frustrations, the triumphs and trials of these workers captured in a way that will be valuable to the pleasure reader and scholar alike.

Raised in Aliquippa, a steel town in Western Pennsylvania, Rade B Vukmir MD, JD grew up in a family that was intimately involved in the steel industry. His grandfather worked as a blast furnace water tender for 55 years, and his father worked as a rigger at the mill until his death in an industrial accident in 1973. His mother was also employed as a machinist helper, and Vukmir himself worked as a summer employee in the blast furnace as well in the Aliquippa plant.