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Andrew Carnegie’s Ode to Steelmaking

Known best by his knack for moneymaking, turn-of-the-century steel magnate Andrew Carnegie nonetheless found a moment to pen a one-sided poetic tribute to the “eighth wonder” of the world—steel manufacturing in his Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, plant. This brief poem reflected how he (and other contemporaries) viewed the monumental process of steelmaking. The poem was notable for its use of passive voice and the absence of workers—miners, railroad men, or blast furnace crews—from the process by which “one pound of solid steel” came to be.

The eighth wonder of the world is this:

two pounds of iron-stone purchased on

the shores of lake Superior and

transported to Pittsburgh;

two pounds of coal mined in Connellsville

and manufactured into coke and

brought to Pittsburgh;

one half pound of limestone mined

east of the Alleghenies and

brought to Pittsburgh;

a little manganese ore,

mined in Virginia and

brought to Pittsburgh.

And these four and one half pounds of material

manufactured into one pound of solid steel

and sold for one cent.

That’s all that need be said

about the steel business.

Source: Harold Livesay, Andrew Carnegie and the Rise of Big Business (Boston: Little Brown, 1975), 189.