At Pittsburgh is made not only lamp and chimney, but the cheap and
wonderful fluid that feeds the wicks. The first two are turned out
in myriads in her glass-works, and the latter necessity pours from her
vast odoriferous refineries. To the latter there flows a steady stream
of crude oil, 12,000 barrels per day, from the wells of the "regions,"
twenty-five miles away as the crow flies. A round dozen there are of
these refineries. They are to the nose what "tuning-time" in a grand
orchestra is to the ear. Every shade or semi-tone of abominable smell,
from the overwhelming stench of "residuum" and "refuse" to the pungent
and more tolerable odor of high-test refined petroleum, is born and bred
into lusty maturity at the Pittsburgh refinery. These rather unsightly
affairs are located in a portion of the city set apart for their occupancy;
and in this portion of the City of Smoke even the most persistent sight
seer lingers but long enough to absorb the whole gamut of smells that
issue from "tank" and "still" and "agitator." It is also a region of
great iron tanks, that seem sweet morsels for the electric destroyer.
And here a stroke of lightning means death and destruction. The soil
is saturated with oil in this unlovely region, and the stoutest-hearted
fireman in Pittsburgh feels a tremor when the big bell booms the number
of an alarm box located among the refineries.
The oil industry has lent a powerful
hand to the iron industry of Pittsburgh. Each well in the regions of
petroleum must be fitted with at least two thousand feet of iron pipes,
great and small, and every barrel produced ultimately enters an iron tank.
The mills of pittsburgh supply both. An order for fifty or one-hundred
miles of pipe does not worry a Pittsburgh pipe-maker in the least;
and among the sights to see there is the working of ponderous machinery
that draw a long strip of white-hot iron from the furnace mouth and
converts it into a hollow, perfect pipe in the twinkling of an eye,
and with the noise also of a near stroke of thunder, and a play of
fire-works as though a meteor had exploded. And as these lines are
written Pittsburgh men and machinery are working night and day upon
tremendous sheet-iron oil tanks, to hold 30,000 barrels each, that are
to store away 2,000,000 barrels of "dollar crude" for a single company.
Then there are engines and boilers and pumps to be built for the oil men.
These are examples only of the great industrial activity which had made
the city of Pittsburgh the Sheffield of America.
Pittsburgh rivers have been compared