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STEELTON. Steelton ranks second in population to Harrisburg of all towns in Dauphin County, having a population of 13,428 (1920). It is difficult to realize that in the year 1866 there were but six families living in the territory now included in the borough. The land upon which the steelworks was afterwards erected, was originally granted by warrant to Thomas Renick, March 27, 1738, and by patent to Richard Peters, the famous Secretary of the Penns, March 19, 1747, as a  "tract of land in Paxtang Township, Lancaster county. " Frederick Kelker purchased the first tract if land April 1, 1830, and another tract in 1843, the price being $37.00 per acre.

In 1865, when the Pennsylvania Steel Company was being organized, and when the board of directors were seeking for a site upon which to erect their plant, the site of Steelton was visited by the members of the board. The Kelker lands were bought at a price of $300 per acre, for which a deed was given January 8, 1866. The total amount paid for these   lands was $27,577.50. The company afterwards bought fifteen additional acres of Rudolph F. Kelker, at the same price per acre, making the total for all of the land bought at this time about 91 acres, at a total price of $29,175. After having sold this land to the Company, Rudolph Kelker bought 45 acres of land from Abraham Wolf, and 22 acres from Jacob Bender, and 50 acres from Henry Kelker, and then commenced to lay out a town and sell lots. The price of the lots varied from 100 to 250 dollars. owing to their situation. The two town sites which were laid out were called Lower Baldwin and Central Baldwin. When the name of the town was discussed, the directors of the Steel Company requested Mr. Kelker for his assistance in naming the place. The name Baldwin, after the famous founder of the Baldwin Locomotive Works, was suggested, but it was afterwards given up, because their were two other places in the state bearing the same name. When the post office was established in 1871, it was given t he name Steel Works. In October 1880, this name was changed to Steelton, and when the town was incorporated it took the name of the Post Office.

The Pennsylvania Steel Company was organized in June 1865, with a capital stock of $200,000. Its first President was Samuel M. Felton. The chief inducement for this company making the site the one for its plants was the deposit of Cornwall ore, which was available. The plant still uses about 30% of this ore in the making of steel, The works commenced operations in May, 1867. It was the first plant in the United States for the making of steel. Other plants, which later turned to steel making, had been erected for iron making. It was also the first plant which made steel rains for filling commercial orders. The first rails made at the plant were sent to Johnstown for rolling, but after 1868 all of the rails maid at the plant were rolled at Steelton.

The gross tonnage of steel produced in 1868 was 4,116, which amount increased to 178,180 tones in 1882 and 460,000 tons in 1902.

The Pennsylvania Steel Company was taken over by the Bethlehem Steel Company in July 1916. Two years after this time, when the General Manager was transferred to the Bethlehem works, Mr. Frank A. Robbins, Jr., who had been the Assistant,  was made General Manager of the Steelton plant, which position he still holds.

There are 5,500 men employed at the works. The annual production is 776,000 tons of ingots. The hot roll products amount to 530,00 tons annually, of which 400,00 tons are steel rails, 10,00 merchant bars, 120,000 splice bars. The tonnage of fabricated steel is 60,000 annually.

The output of the furnaces, in basic, Bessemer, etc., is approximately 720,000 tons annually. The total value of the products is about $28,850,000.

The Steelton plant uses from the river about four and a half times as much water annually as does the city of Harrisburg, ant its electric power plant generates about four and a half times as much power as the Harrisburg traction company plant.

About 4,500 loaded card enter the works each month, or 150 per day, and 1,582 loaded cars are shipped out of the plant each month, making a total of incoming cars per year of 54,000 and out-going cars per year of 18,984. The plant uses a truck load of oxygen, almost every day, from the Air Reduction Company of Harrisburg.

(The information concerning the Steelton plant has been very kindly given by the General Manager, Frank A. Robbins, Jr.)

Steelton contains fine church buildings of almost all of the religious denominations. The united Brethren were organized in 1867, and the Methodist Episcopal Church in 1868. These were the first tow churches to organize and have houses of worship.

The Roman Catholic and the Greek Catholic Churches are both strong in the borough, as many of the employees at the steel works are adherents of these churches. All of the denominations are strong and well equipped for work among the people of this busy town.

Steelton is in every sense a "steel town" and as such it is always a good business town.

The Steelton Club is on of the most thriving social organizations in the borough, and the Civic Club (noticed in the Chapter on Women's Activities) is one of the livest women's organizations in the county. Owing to the large number of people of foreign birth in the town, the Public Schools are well attended. The school buildings are modern and well equipped for the work of training these young people who will make the future men and women of this progressive industrial community. Steel workers, as they are elsewhere, are fully awake to everything relating to the welfare and progress of the town in which they live. The old and the new systems of transportation are almost side by side through Steelton, where the old Pennsylvania Canal bed runs near the tracks of the Pennsylvania Railroad.




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