Robert Munroe: Photographer, Colonel, Boilermaker


Everyone in Western Pennsylvania has heard of a Boiler Maker--a shot of whiskey and a beer chaser. But in the 19th century, boiler makers were more than a favorite drink of bartenders--they were a fundamental player in the development of Pittsburgh's heavy industries of iron and steel. Steam boilers, and the men who made them, helped propel Pittsburgh into its Golden Age of manufacturing.

When iron and steel ruled in Pittsburgh it made a great many families wealthy and provided jobs to immigrants. But the steam boilers that were so critical to the process also created dangerous working conditions that forced these entrepreneurs to look at the fallout of manufacturing and attempt to reconcile the wealth of their profits against the weight of their responsibilities. One such boiler maker was Robert Munroe. Against a backdrop of industry, westward expansion, the Civil War, and the rise of the Steel Industry, Munroe's boiler making story is inextricably linked with 19th-century Pittsburgh.

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