Summary Information
Title: Ken Kobus Collection
Collection Number: AIS.2006.18
Creator: Kobus, Ken

Collection Dates: 1980-2008
Extent: 5.0 linear feet (33 boxes)

Language: English

Ken Kobus is a retired engineer for the LTV Steel Corporation who worked in the steel industry for over 40 years. His collection includes photographic slides documenting the railroad and steel industry from Pennsylvania to Illinois taken during the 1980s and 2008s. Pittsburgh and world environments are documented through photographic slides. The collection also includes presentations used at lectures for historical groups, such as the Pennsylvania Railroad Historical Society, as well as supplementary material in the forms of photographic prints, negatives, VHS videos, and compact discs. Digital reproductions of the collection are available online.

ULS Archives Service Center
University of Pittsburgh Library System
7500 Thomas Boulevard
Pittsburgh, PA, 15260
Date Published:

July 2009

Finding aid prepared by John Tomasicchio.

Born March 19, 1948, Ken Kobus grew up in the working-class Pittsburgh neighborhood of the South Side, just eight blocks from the steel mill where his father and grandfather worked for the Jones & Laughlin Steel Company. Ken followed in their footsteps, also having a career in the steel industry for over 40 years. He is an avid photographer, amateur astronomer, and enthusiast of railroad and steel industry history. A published author, he has four books and numerous articles to his credit.

Collection Scope and Content Notes

The Ken Kobus Collection focuses on the changing nature of the railroad and steel industries during the post-industrial era of the 1980s and the early 1990s. The collection documents a geographical corridor from Pittsburgh to Chicago, with ConRail and the LTV Steel Company as the primary focus. Secondary points of interest include the Pennsylvania Railroad, Union Pacific Railroad, Amtrak, and Union Switch and Signal companies. Presentations given by Ken Kobus on these industries and the changes they underwent remain complete and unchanged within the collection. The collection also includes material concerning city environments, boats, and rivers. The University of Pittsburgh environment is featured as a sampling of campus shots and football games while riverboats around the Point area and views of Downtown document the Pittsburgh environment. The collection is mainly comprised of photographic slide material, with a small accompaniment of photographic prints, photographic negatives, and other multimedia, including VHS tapes and digital photos on compact discs. A portion of the Kobus photographs were digitized and are accessible online at:


The arrangement of the Ken Kobus Collection has been kept substantially in its original form. The processor derived the intellectual organization from the unprocessed physical organization of the collection.

Series I. Railroad Industry

Series II. River Boats

Series III. Steel Industry

Series IV. Pittsburgh Environs

Series V. Travel

Series VI. Presentations

Series VII. Photographic Prints and Negatives

Series VIII. Videocassettes

Subject Terms

  • Canals
  • Carrie Furnace (Rankin, Pa.)
  • Railroad trains
  • Railroads
  • River boats
  • Rivers
  • Steel industry and trade
  • Travel

Corporate Names
  • Amtrak.
  • ConRail.
  • CSX Transportation (Firm).
  • Erie Mining Company.
  • LTV Steel Company.
  • Pennsylvania Railroad.
  • Union Pacific Railroad Company.
  • Union Switch and Signal Company.
  • University of Pittsburgh.

Personal Names
  • Kobus, Ken

  • Altoona (Pa.)
  • Blairsville (Pa.)
  • Cassandra (Pa.)
  • Chicago (Ill.)
  • Clairton (Pa.)
  • Conway (Pa.)
  • Cresson (Pa.)
  • Emsworth (Pa.)
  • Enola (Pa.)
  • Feather Rivers (Calif.)
  • Freedom (Pa.)
  • Gallitzin (Pa.)
  • Gary (Ind.)
  • Harrisburg (Pa.)
  • Homewood (Pittsburgh, Pa.)
  • Horseshoe Curve National Historic Landmark (Pa.)
  • Johnstown (Cambria County, Pa.)
  • Leetstown (Pa.)
  • London (England)
  • Mexico
  • Midgrade (Pa.)
  • Mount Everest (China and Nepal)
  • New Brighton (Pa.)
  • Orlando (Fla.)
  • Pennsylvania Canal (Pa.)
  • Philadelphia (Pa.)
  • Pittsburgh (Pa.)
  • Porter (Ind.)
  • Rochester (Pa.)
  • San Francisco (Calif.)
  • Shire Oaks (Pa.)
  • Southfork (Pa.)
  • Spruce Creek (Pa.)
  • Tunnel Hill (Pa.)
  • Wampum (Pa.)
  • Yosemite (Ind.)

  • Color negatives
  • Color slides
  • Photo CDs
  • Photographs
  • VHS (TM)

  • Architecture
  • Business and Industry
  • Transportation
  • University of Pittsburgh

Access and Use
Access Restrictions:

No restrictions.

Acquisition Information:

Gift of Ken Kobus in December 2006.

Alternate Format:

Digital reproductions of the collection are available electronically at

Custodial History:

Ken Kobus maintained these records until he donated them to the ASC in 2006.

Preferred Citation:

Ken Kobus Collection, 1980-2008, AIS.2006.18, Archives Service Center, University of Pittsburgh.

Processing Information:

This collection was processed by Robert Presutti, January 2007. The collection was physically reorganized and the finding aid revised by John Tomasicchio in June 2009.


Permission for publication is given on behalf of the University of Pittsburgh as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained.

Related Material:

Pennsy's Conemaugh Division: Pittsburgh to Johnstown and Oil City, Ken Kobus and Gary Rauch (2007).

Steel: the diary of a furnace worker, Charles R Walker and Ken Kobus (1999).

The Pennsylvania Railroad's Golden Triangle: main line panorama in the Pittsburgh area, Ken Kobus and Jack Consoli (1998).

The Pennsy in the steel city: 150 years of the Pennsylvania Railroad in Pittsburgh, Ken Kobus and Jack Consoli (1996).

Collection Inventory

Series I. Railroad Industry

Scope and Content Notes:

The Railroad Industry Series includes a broad volume of photographic slides covering the daily workings of several major railway companies, including Amtrak, Pennsylvania Railroad, ConRail, Union Pacific, and Union Switch and Signal. These slides focus on companies, towns, railroad equipment, and rail yards. Several generic railroad sections, created independently and originally named Miscellaneous, are present. These sections contain a mix of topics pertaining to the railway industry, including trains, town environs, wrecks, and yards. The series dates from 1985 to 1992.

Box 1
Folder 1 Midgrade, Pa.; Horse Shoe Curve, Pa.; Tunnel Hill, Pa.
Folder 2 Tunnel Hill Pa.; Cresson, Pa.; Galitlen. Pa.
Folder 3 Galitzen, Pa.; Southfork, Pa.; Cassandra, Pa.; Johnstown, Pa.; Spruce Creek to Cresson, Pa.; Spruce Creek, Pa.; Freedom, Pa.
Folder 4 Freedom, Pa.
Folder 5 Freedom, Pa.; Rochester, Pa.
Folder 6 Rochester, Pa.

Box 2
Folder 1 Leetstown, Pa., Conway, Pa.
Folder 02-03 Conway, Pa.; Maintenance of Way and Special Loads in Conway, Pa.
Folder 04-05 ConRail (Pittsburgh, Pa.)
Folder 6 ConRail

Box 3
Folder 1 ConRail and Emsworth, Pa.
Folder 2 Emsworth, Pa.; Wampum, Pa; Homewood, Pa.; Harrisburg, Pa.
Folder 3 Harrisburg, Pa.; Clairton, Pa.; Enola, Pa.; Shire Oaks, Pa.; New Brighton, Pa.; Pittsburgh, Pa.; Altoona, Pa.

Box 4
Folder 01-03 Amtrak (Indiana, Illinois)
Folder 04-05 Altoona, Pa.
Folder 4 Amtrak (Indiana, Illinois) and Union Pacific (Feather River, Ca.)
Folder 5 UP (Feather River, Ca.); East Chicago, In.; Gary, In.; Corwith Yard (Chicago, Il.)
Folder 6 Corwith Yard (Chicago, Il.); Railroad companies, Indiana and Illinois

Box 5
Folder 01-06 Railroad

Box 6
Folder 01-02 Railroad
Folder 3 Railroad; Porter, Indiana
Folder 04-05 Porter, Indiana
Folder 6 Porter, Indiana; Amtrak

Box 7
Folder 01-02 Amtrak
Folder 3 Amtrak; Union Switch and Signal
Folder 04-06 Union Switch and Signal
Box 8 Altoona, Pa.
Box 9 Conway Yard
Box 10 Railroad
Box 11 Conway Yard
Box 12 Conway Yard
Box 13 Conway/ Pittsburgh Railroad
Box 14 Conway Yard
Box 15 Conway Yard
Box 16 Wrecks/ Derailments
Box 17 Conway Yard
Box 18 Conway Yard
Box 19 Conway Yard
Box 20 Conway Yard
Box 21 Wrecks/ Railroad

Series II. River Boats

Scope and Content Notes:

The River Boat Series contains photographic slides of river boats in Pittsburgh, mostly around the Point. The river boat section includes barges along the Ohio, Monongahela, and Allegheny rivers as well as a small selection of stern-wheel boats.

Box 22 River boats (Barges)
Box 23 River boats (Barges and Stern-wheels)

Series III. Steel Industry

Scope and Content Notes:

The Steel Industry Series includes photographic slides depicting industrial main areas during the last weeks of production at LTV Steel Company in Pittsburgh, the Carrie Furnaces, the Erie Mining Company (Minnesota), and the Pennsylvania Canal on Pittsburgh’s North Side. The steel mill images are interior shots of active industrial complexes with limited shots of facility employees.

Box 24 Erie Mining
Box 25 LTV Pittsburgh Steel Plant (Last week of operations); PAT Train; Carrie Furnace; Eliza Furnace
Box 26 Steel

Series IV. Pittsburgh Environs

Scope and Content Notes:

The Pittsburgh Environs Series includes photographic slides depicting University of Pittsburgh buildings, football games, and campus scenes. Also included in this series are slides that document the downtown Pittsburgh environment and the historic Pennsylvania Canal.

Box 27
Folder 1 University of Pittsburgh versus Maryland, Phipps Conservatory, University of Pittsburgh Campus Views
Folder 2 University of Pittsburgh Campus Views (1992)
Folder 3 University of Pittsburgh versus Penn State
Folder 4 Pennsylvania Canal (1987), Downtown Pittsburgh, Miscellaneous Pittsburgh Environs

Series V. Travel

Scope and Content Notes:

The Travel Series contains slides relating to Ken Kobus’ various world travels. These slides depict buildings, historic landmarks, ruins, and natural surroundings that distinguish these assorted locations. Travel locations include London, Chicago, Philadelphia, the Kennedy Space Center, Ricketts Glen State Park, Mount Everest, Mexico, and Europe.

Box 28 Travel Slides

Series VI. Presentations

Scope and Content Notes:

The Presentations Series dates between 1985 and 1992 and includes complete photographic slide presentations assembled by Ken Kobus covering the steel industry and the railroad industry from different locations in the Pittsburgh to Chicago railroad transportation corridor and in San Francisco. The presentations were created for lectures provided to historical societies and industrial enthusiasts.

Box 29
Folder 01-02 Presentation 1: Railroad Industry
Folder 03-04 Presentation 2: Railroad Industry
Folder 5 Presentation 3: History of Coke-making
Folder 6 Presentation 4 and 5: Railroad Industry; Brashear Telescope; History of Coke-making

Box 30
Folder 1 Presentation 6: Railroad Industry
Folder 2 Presentation 7: Railroad Industry and Railways Transportation
Folder 3 Presentation 8: Pennsylvania Railroad
Folder 4 Presentation 9: Steel Industry; Railroad Industry
Folder 5 Presentation 10: Railroad Industry; Chicago Railway Fair
Folder 6 Presentation 11: Railroad Industry

Box 31
Folder 1 Presentation 12: Pittsburgh and Lake Erie Railroad
Folder 2 Presentation 13: Steel Industry
Folder 3 Presentation 14: Steel Industry

Series VII. Photographic Prints and Negatives

Scope and Content Notes:

The Photographic Prints and Negatives Series contains images and negatives relating to the railroad and steel industry as well as Ken Kobus’ lecture series. Prints include images of the Pennsylvania Canal from 1987, when Lock No. 4 was dug up on the North Side during construction of I-279 North. Also included are photographic prints of Ken Kobus’ lecture at the Heinz History Center and the dedication of the Clinton Furnace at Bessemer Court at Station Square as well as oversize photographic prints of the Pittsburgh LTV Steel plant and a Jones & Laughlin Steel Company locomotive. This series contains three photographic CDs, which contain digital photos pertaining to the Main Midwest Central Railroad, the Erie Mining Company images and Schnabel images.

Box 32
Folder 1 Steel Industry Negatives
Folder 2 Ken Kobus Lecture Negatives
Folder 3 Riverboat/ Point Area Negatives
Folder 4 ConRail/ Railroad Negatives
Folder 5 Pennsylvania Station Prints
Folder 6 Pennsylvania Canal Prints
Folder 7 Ken Kobus Lecture Prints
Folder 8 Special Railroad Prints / Postcards
Folder 9 Riverboat Prints
Folder 10 ConRail Locomotive Prints
Folder 11 Clinton Furnace Dedication Prints
Folder 12 LTV Steel Prints
Folder 13 Image CDs

Folder 13 contains three Image CDs.

CD 01: Erie Mining Photos for Line Side: Dated September 28, 2005; contains 28 images in the JPEG format

CD 02: Schnabel Photos for Line Side: Dated September 28, 2005; contains 19 images in the JPEG format

CD 03: MCRR Photo Line Side: Dated September 28, 2005; contains 78 images in the JPEG format

Series VII. Videocassettes

Scope and Content Notes:

The Videocassette Series is comprised of five promotional and instructional VHS tapes relating to the railroad and riverboat series. Included in this series are a Juniata/Hollidaysburg Remanufacturing Facilities promotional video, a ConRail general instructional video, a ConRail Electro-motive Diesel instructional video, a Gateway Clipper Fleet promotional video about charter services, and a LTV Steel promotional video.

Box 33
Video 1 “Building Tomorrow from Yesterday’s Resources,” Juniata/Hollidaysburg Remanufacturing Facilities
Video 2 ConRail/EMD “SD80 MAC Operator Familiarization,” ConRail. “The New EL106-a”
Video 3 Consolidated Rail Corporation “Roadrailer Familiarization and over the Road Troubleshooting”
Video 4 “Excellence in the Making: We Guarantee It!” LTV Steel
Video 5 Gateway Clipper Fleet Day and Night Charter Sales Tape