|A. M. Byers Co. plant under construction|
Daily Citizen supplement
August 10, 1929
The A. M. Byers Co. plant was the last of the large industrial plants to be built in Ambridge.* It opened in October 1930, producing wrought iron and wrought iron pipes, using a new mechanized production method, the Ashton process, which allowed the plant to produce higher-quality wrought iron--and produce it faster and at a lower cost.
When Ambridge's Byers plant was working at capacity, it reportedly produced more wrought iron than all the other wrought iron plants in the U.S. did combined.
|A.M Byers Ambridge plant in lower half of photo|
(J & L across the Ohio River)
courtesy Beaver County Industrial Museum
used with permission
|A. M. Byers Co. Ambridge plant|
Beaver County Times
December 19, 1969
Beaver County Times caption:
DOORS TO BE CLOSED -- The Harmony Township Plant of the A. M. Byers Co., experiencing economic difficulties as a result of rising costs and product demand decline, will be shut down Dec. 31, bringing to a close 40 years of operations. At stake are 485 jobs including 127 office and supervisory personnel. Employment at the plant has been down for several months.The former Byers production buildings are used by several businesses: Brunner Recyling, O'Neal Manufacturing, and Leeco Steel. The former Byers office is a U.S. Air Force Recruiting Center.
It was emotionally comforting for me to see that the Byers smokestacks still stand tall.
|A. M. Byers smokestacks|
April 29, 2015
credit: Nancy Knisley
My memories of the Byers plant
Two things stand out in my memories of the Byers plant, besides the fact that my Uncle Fritz Yerzek worked there.
The one memory I'm sure I share with anyone who lived in the area while Byers was operating, is the inferno produced by the Bessemer converter, located only about 150 feet from the west side of Duss Ave. The working converter would light up the night sky in shades of gold and orange. Multicolored smoke would rise high into the air. And sparks would drift into Duss Ave. onto passing cars if the wind was right.
Even as a kid I was astonished that Byers was allowed to put the converter so close to what was a major road at the time.
|Byers' Bessemer Converter|
courtesy Laughlin Memorial Library archives
If our family car drove past Byers while the converter was working, my mom would say, "Don't look! Don't look! You'll hurt your eyes. You might go blind." But of course, I always snuck a look. The scene was awe inspiring in a somewhat terrifying way.
My other memory is the large, round, wrought iron plate that hung on a frame on the Duss Ave. side of the Byers office. I don't know what the plate really was called, but we always referred to it as the "gong."
The Bessemer converter ended up on display at Station Square in Pittsburgh. Does anyone know what happened to the "gong"?
* Technically, the Byers plant was in Harmony Township, not the Borough of Ambridge, but, like other Harmony Township businesses, it used an Ambridge address and advertised itself as being in Ambridge.