Mesta Machine Company Photographs

What's online?

The Mesta Machine Company online collection contains images from 1906 through 1920 that show the manufacturing of steel mill equipment and machinery, and the construction of several of Mesta's production facilities. Images were selected that visually document the Mesta facilities in West Homestead, its products, working conditions, and employees.

What's in the entire collection?

The collection, held by the Library & Archives at the Senator John Heinz History Center, was acquired from the Park Corporation in 1995, and comprises over one thousand glass plate negatives taken between 1906 and 1925. Approximately one third of the collection is undated and unidentified. The collection contains 920 8" x 10" glass plate negatives; another 115 are 11" x 14" glass plate negatives. Several of the images were used in general information brochures and direct advertising material for the company.

About Mesta Machine Company

The Mesta Machine Company, chartered on November 21, 1898, was a major manufacturer of steel mill equipment and machinery. Located in Homestead, Pennsylvania, on the banks of the Monongahela River approximately six miles upriver from Pittsburgh, Mesta eventually became the world's largest steel mill equipment manufacturing establishment under one roof. Mesta was an outgrowth of two earlier companies, Leechburg Foundry and Machinery Company and Robinson-Rea Manufacturing Company. George Mesta obtained controlling interest in Leechburg Foundry in the 1890s and then negotiated a merger with Robinson-Rea to create the new company, which he named after himself.

At the height of its success, Mesta employed over thirty-eight hundred people and sprawled over thirty acres. Mesta took advantage of the steel industry trend in the early 1900s that called for more mechanized steel making processes. As a result of this foresight, Mesta quickly became the top manufacturer of rolling mills, gas and steam engines for blast furnaces, forging presses, and machine-molded gears. The plant included laboratories, foundries, open-hearth furnaces, numerous mills, and separate departments for gear molding and ship shafts. The company sold equipment to iron and steel plants in Canada, Australia, India, England, France, Italy, and Japan.

With the collapse of the U.S. steel industry in the 1970s, Mesta Machine also suffered. In 1983, it filed for bankruptcy and was sold to Park Corporation, who divided it up into several separate manufacturing facilities for a variety of smaller companies such as Mestek and WHEMCO.

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