Skip to content

What's the deal with that Danville Bessemer train?

This week's edition of Remember This tells the tale of a short-lived Pennsylvania steel operation and its link to Algoma Steel
Why did this train at Algoma Steel bear the markings of the Danville Bessemer Company? Read on to find out. Sault Ste. Marie Public Library photo

From the archives of the Sault Ste. Marie Public Library:

An old photo from Algoma Steel shows employees posing with a small train bearing the name of the Danville Bessemer Company. But what’s the story behind the train, and how did it get here?

Danville Bessemer was a steel company from Danville, Pennsylvania. Incorporated in 1899, the company took over an existing steel plant and began building an additional plant. The company poured money into new buildings and equipment.

However, the company’s new plant never operated as intended. In fact, although it was constructed, it never operated at all.

By July of 1900, rumours began to circulate that the Danville Bessemer steel works would be sold, although no concrete details had emerged. By August, word was that “Canadian capitalists” would be purchasing the plant.

In September of 1900, the rumours turned out to be true when Danville Bessemer plant came under new ownership. The buyer was from Sault Ste. Marie: The Lake Superior Iron and Steel Company. This was one of the companies — along with Algoma Commercial Company, Algoma Iron Works, Algoma Steel Company, and Lake Superior Power Company — that would ultimately combine to become the Algoma Steel Corporation.

Under new ownership, the Danville Bessemer Mill would be dismantled, with machinery being relocated to Sault Ste. Marie. That process began in November of 1900.

Presumably, the machinery coming to Sault Ste. Marie would also include a small train, one that would later be pictured with Algoma Steel staff.

The Danville Bessemer Company officially dissolved in 1903, amidst a scandal involving illegal profits: the plaintiffs accused Danville Bessemer representatives of profiting hundreds of thousands of dollars at the expense of the stockholders.

But the legacy of the company would live on, in the form of equipment used in the steel mill at Sault Ste. Marie.

Each week, the Sault Ste. Marie Public Library and its Archives provides SooToday readers with a glimpse of the city’s past.

Find out more of what the Public Library has to offer at and look for more Remember This? columns here