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The Guilded Age

  • Date Submitted: 03/21/2011 07:58 AM
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Pike 2
Terry Pike
Professor Connor
History 109
28 January 2011
The development of ways to mass produce steel made big changes. In pure form the metal was tough but soft. Cast iron was hard but brittle. For nearly every purpose steel is superior to other kinds of iron.
Steel was expensive to manufacture and could not be used for bulky products until Henry Bessemer and William Kelly discovered that a stream of air directed into a mass of molten iron caused the carbon and other impurities to combine with oxygen and burn off. When amounts of carbon, silicon, and manganese were added it became steel and could now be produced by hundreds and thousands of tons.
Bessemer’s process and the open hearth method made production expand from 77,000 in 1870, to almost 5 million in 1890. This process could not have been possible if not for huge supplies of iron ore and coal in the United States.
Pittsburgh with its vast coal deposits became the iron and steel capital.
With the discovery of this method to make steel it opened up mew jobs and changed the way products were made.
The expansion of the petroleum industry was even greater than iron and steel. The first successful well was drilled in Pennsylvania in 1859, by Edward L. Drake. During the Civil War production was around 2 to 3 million barrels a year and by 1890 production jumped to about 50 million barrels a year.
Kerosene was the largest use of petroleum, however by the early 1870’s refiners learned how to make other product by heating crude oil at high temperatures thus changing its structure.
The demand for crude oil rose after German born chemist Herman Frasch came up with a method for removing sulfur from low quality petroleum. Because of this, prices dropped causing large plants with expensive machinery and skilled employees to become more important.
In the mid-1860’s only three refineries were able to produce 2000 barrels a week. A decade later refineries producing 1000 barrels a...


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