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Rust Engineering Company Records, 1905-1989, AIS.2006.06
Archives Service Center, University of Pittsburgh

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What’s online

The Rust Engineering Company online collection consists of 70 images dating from 1905 to 1968. Included are views of construction projects, completed facilities, and office personnel. Of particular note are project photographs taken in Holt, Alabama. These images document the construction of coke processing facilities and blast furnaces for Central Iron and Coal Company during the years 1917 and 1918. Rare images of the working conditions at Holt and the surrounding community are also featured.

What’s in the entire collection

The Rust Engineering Company photographs are part of the records of the company held by the Archives Service Center (ASC) of the University of Pittsburgh. The collection of images consists of about four hundred photographic prints taken between 1905 and 1967 and includes construction sites, offices, personnel, and events such as banquets and recognition ceremonies. The majority of the photographs are housed in three albums. Two of the albums contain images of job sites and machinery from the 1920s through the 1950s. The third album contains images of the Holt, Alabama, project. "Before and after" images, found in all albums, follow progress at construction sites and show the types of tools, scaffolding, and underlying foundations used to build a variety of structures. In addition to photographs, the collection includes correspondence, job and financial reports, meeting minutes, promotional items, and newspaper clippings.

About the Rust Engineering Company

The Rust Engineering Company specialized in the design and construction of equipment and facilities for heavy industry, including furnaces, boiler settings, industrial chimneys, and entire manufacturing and processing plants. It was founded in 1905 as a partnership between three brothers from Virginia; Ellsworth Marshall Rust (E.M. Rust), Edmund Jennings Lee Rust (Lee Rust), and Stirling Murray Rust (S.M. Rust). Originally created to handle boiler sales and brickwork for the Rust Boiler Company, which was owned by three older Rust brothers, Rust Engineering quickly expanded into other subsets of design and construction and was soon building foundations, power houses, and eventually entire manufacturing plants. The company was also a leading builder of industrial chimneys and furnaces, which were in high demand throughout most of the twentieth century.

In 1913, Rust Engineering opened an office in Pittsburgh, where the Rust Boiler Company was already established. By the 1950s, Rust Engineering was a leading engineering firm known for its furnaces, paper mills, concrete work, and "turn-key" plants, so called because the company handled everything from the blueprints to the installation of machinery, leaving the plant fully operational and the keys in the hands of management. Rust Engineering took contracts across the United States, but was especially important in Pittsburgh, where it built for Westinghouse, Pittsburgh Plate and Glass, and many of the city’s steel mills. Rust Engineering also built the foundations and steel framework of the Koppers Building, one of the distinctive features of the Pittsburgh skyline.

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