Clairton, a city in Allegheny County, Pa., along the Monongahela River, is home to the United States Steel Clairton Works, the largest coke manufacturing facility in the United States. The city is still trying to recover from the decline of the steel industry.
Rural American towns fight to stay alive every day. Santa Rosa, a town of nearly 2,800, is hanging by threads as the community fights to resurrect the economy and the youth flee to discover the bigger cities in hopes for something more.
The nation’s only touring African American rodeo, the Bill Pickett Invitational Rodeo has brought bulldogging, roping, bareback bronco riding, bull riding, barrel racing and other events to cities across the nation for 27 years.
The suburban towns along its iconic three rivers, helped make Pittsburgh an industrial powerhouse, driven by an influx of foreign-born workers at the turn of the 20th century. Immigrants filled jobs in the mills, where steel was forged for the aircraft and battleships that helped win two world wars.
But as you drive through these towns today, it’s clear they have been largely forgotten. Once bustling shopping corridors are all but empty. The company homes where mill workers raised their families are showing their age, and residents still reminisce about the “good old days” before the mills shuttered.
In 1909, Jones and Laughlin Steel Corporation (J&L), which already had a mill on the south side of Pittsburgh, wanted to expand, so it purchased land along the Ohio River near the town of Woodlawn about 25 miles downriver from Pittsburgh. The company expanded the town, building homes and businesses to accommodate the workers of what would become the largest steel mill in the world, stretching for 7 miles along the riverfront.