Alan Wood Steel Company

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The Alan Wood Steel Company was incorporated in Pennsylvania as the Alan Wood Company on January 23, 1929, and was renamed the Alan Wood Steel Company on February 16, 1929. It represented a reorganization and recapitalization of an earlier firm, the Alan Wood Iron and Steel Company. The firm was a small, family-controlled integrated steel company, producing primarily steel sheets.

The company traced its roots to James Wood (1771-1852), the grandson of an Irish Quaker immigrant. During the early 1800s he had worked at a number of forges in the Philadelphia area, mostly engaged in the manufacture of scythes and other agricultural implements. From 1826 to 1832 he operated the Delaware Iron Works on Red Clay Creek at Wooddale, Del., in partnership with his son Alan (1800-1881) and engaged in the manufacture of shovels.

In 1832 the entire operation was moved to Conshohocken, Pa., to obtain better access to the iron and anthracite coal coming down the Schuylkill Canal. The rolling mill and shovel factory was operated as James Wood & Son until 1840, when Alan and William W. Wood took over as Alan Wood & Brother. Alan left that same year to resume operation at the Delaware Iron Works, and his father came out of retirement and reconstituted the firm as James Wood & Sons. Puddling furnaces were built in 1847. In 1848 James again retired, and leadership was assumed by his son John (1816-1898) as J. Wood & Brothers. The Corliss Iron Works was constructed in 1864, and the firm was incorporated as the J. Wood & Brothers Company in 1886.

The Delaware Iron Works was leased by John Wood in 1840 and purchased outright by Alan Wood in 1843. Leaving his sons to operate this mill, Alan Wood established the Schuylkill Iron Works in 1857, next to the J. Wood & Brothers mill. It became an important producer of steel sheets and was incorporated on December 28, 1885, as the Alan Wood Company. The Delaware Iron Works was abandoned in 1889.

W. Dewees Wood, the son of Alan Wood, moved to western Pennsylvania and in 1851 established the McKeesport Iron Works with his uncle, Lewis A. Lukens, and several other partners. It produced a fine "planished" iron equal or superior to the best Russia sheet iron. A branch plant was established in Wellsville, on the Ohio River, in 1880. Both Wood and Lukens died in 1899, and their heirs sold the property in the following year.

In 1901 the Alan Wood Company was producing 25,000 tons of steel, and the family decided to become a fully integrated steel producer. The Alan Wood Iron & Steel Company was incorporated on December 1, 1901, and over the next two years constructed the Ivy Rock Steel Works just upriver from Conshohocken. The new firm absorbed the old Alan Wood Company on July 1, 1903. However, the J. Wood & Brothers Company remained independent and was not absorbed until March 14, 1917.

On December 1, 1911, the Alan Wood Iron & Steel Company acquired by merger the Richard Heckscher & Sons Company, owning blast furnaces at Swedeland on the west bank of the Schuylkill opposite Ivy Rock. The Rainey-Wood Coke Company was formed on July 11, 1918, as a joint venture of Wood, W. J. Rainey, Inc., a large western Pennsylvania coal producer who provided the coal, and the Koppers Company, who designed and built the by-product coke plant in Swedeland. The Upper Merion & Plymouth Railroad, organized in 1907, connected all the elements of the Wood steel-making complex.

In 1929 the Wood family sold a controlling interest to the Koppers Company, and the firm was reincorporated as the Alan Wood Steel Company. The firm leased two iron mines from the Warren Pipe & Foundry Company in 1929. The Scrub Oak Mine was located near Dover and the Washington Mine near Oxford. These mines were purchased outright in 1941. In 1947 the Wood family repurchased control of the company and continued to modernize, installing a Cold Rolled Department in 1954, a Research Department in 1958, an iron powder plant in 1959 and a basic oxygen furnace in 1968. It also attempted to integrate forward by buying the steel locker and shelving business of the Penn Metals Company in 1955.

As a small producer, Alan Wood Steel was particularly vulnerable to the competitive pressure that hit the American steel industry in the 1970s. The firm went into receivership and steel operations were shut down on August 1, 1977. The company was reorganized as the Vesper Corporation and continues in the steel shelving business. Part of the rolling mill complex was sold to Lukens Steel of Coatesville, and the rest of the works was razed in late 1990.

From the description of Records, 1728-1950 (bulk 1869-1937). (Hagley Museum & Library). WorldCat record id: 86123696

Relation Name
associatedWith Alan Wood & Brother. corporateBody
associatedWith Alan Wood & Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Alan Wood Iron and Steel Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Alan Wood Mining Company. corporateBody
associatedWith American Iron and Steel Institute. Public Relations Dept. corporateBody
associatedWith Beckwith, H. R. person
associatedWith Brubaker, Otis Franklin, 1913-2004. person
associatedWith Conshohocken Historical Society. corporateBody
associatedWith Corliss Iron Works (Conshohocken, Pa.). corporateBody
associatedWith Delaware Iron Works. corporateBody
associatedWith General Coal Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Harte, Charles Rufus, comp. corporateBody
associatedWith Heckscher, Richard, 1822-1901. person
associatedWith James Wood & Son. corporateBody
associatedWith James Wood & Sons. corporateBody
associatedWith J. Wood & Bros. (Conshohocken, Pa.). corporateBody
associatedWith Lukens, Lewis A., d. 1899. person
associatedWith Lukens Steel Company. corporateBody
associatedWith McKeesport Iron Works. corporateBody
associatedWith Palmyra Quarry Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Plymouth Mining Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Rainey-Wood Coke Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Richard Heckscher & Sons Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Schuylkill Iron Works (Conshohocken, Pa.). corporateBody
associatedWith Schuylkill Works Relief Association (Conshohocken, Pa.). corporateBody
associatedWith Swede Furnace (Swedeland, Pa.). corporateBody
associatedWith Upper Merion and Plymouth Railroad Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Wilmington Trust Company. Trust Dept. corporateBody
associatedWith Wood, Alan, 1800-1881. person
associatedWith Wood, Alan, 1834-1902. person
associatedWith Wood & Brothers Company (Conshohocken, Pa.). corporateBody
associatedWith Wood family. family
associatedWith Wood, Howard, 1846-1911. person
associatedWith Wood, James, 1706-1760. person
associatedWith Wood, James, 1771-1851. person
associatedWith Wood, John, 1816-1898. person
associatedWith Wood, Richard G. 1849-1931. person
associatedWith Wood, Thomas Dewees, 1827-1880. person
associatedWith Wood, W. Dewees 1826-1899. person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Philadelphia (Pa.)
Schuylkill River (Pa.)
Lehigh River (Pa.)
Conshohocken (Pa.)
Wakefield (Mich.)
Montgomery County (Pa.)
New Castle County (Del.)
Delaware River (N.Y.-Del. and N.J.)
Bessemer process
Blast furnaces
Coke industry
Coke plants
Industrial housing
Iron industry and trade
Iron and steel workers
Iron mines and mining
Relief associations
Russia iron
Saw industry
Steel industry and trade
Steel plate industry
Stock certificates

Corporate Body

Active 1728

Active 1950



Ark ID: w61p2rq9

SNAC ID: 13527871