The National Iron & Steel Heritage Museum
Early American Iron

1780 to 1865 

In this time period industrialization grew slowly. Workplaces were small enough that the business owner knew the employees' names and often worked alongside them. Long hours, heavy work, and low pay were common in every industry in early America.

Life for iron workers was isolated - due to the location of furnaces - and the work was hard and hours long. Furnace employees faced hot and heavy work, wheelbarrowing raw materials into the furnace for twelve hours a day.

However, good labor-management relations existed in the iron industry. Iron workers had a personal relationship with their employer, who often knew each worker, and maybe his wife and children.

Illustration: Brandywine Iron Works & Nail Factory, established in 1810 — National Iron & Steel Heritage Museum