America’s Industrial Age

Alfred Watson grew up in the shadows of the Pittsburgh steel mills lining the Ohio river and was fascinated with their power and size. Later, as a steel plant safety inspector, he would fill his portfolio with images of the steel giants along with the railroads that transported their finished steel products to the world.

When a job transfer took him to Buffalo in 1946, he focused his lens on that city’s waterfront industry including the huge boats that docked along the shore filling their holds with products for the nation.

Buffalo Shipping
Tugboat, late 1940s
Under the watchful eye of its captain, the tugboat Maryland tows the bulk carrier J.F Schoellkopf, Jr. thru a narrow channel. Built in 1907 the Schoellkopf had a gross tonnage of 7301.
Terminus, late 1940s
Published in the 1940 Photography Society of America’s annual, the detail of this image reveals the name Champlain on the black-hulled ship docked on the right.
Refuse Barge, late 1940s
Under a supervisor’s watchful eye, workers dredge an area of a canal on the waterfront that will soon provide safe harbor for the large ships that dock there.
Monster Pipes, late 1940s
Looking like a giant steel monster, a connection of huge pipes bend over an industrial facility while a small plane flies overhead.
Pittsburgh Steel Industry
Valley of Decision, 1942
This photograph of steel mills lining the Ohio river was taken from the West End Overlook near Watson’s childhood home. The artist later titled it after a 1942 novel of the same which took place in Pittsburgh.
End of the Day, 1949
A workmen walks slowly away from his job site after a long day of hard labor. Although the image was taken in the Pittsburgh area, the exact date and location unknown.
Brakeman’s Walk, 1941
A brakeman carries his lunch pail as he walks along the tracks towards the Pittsburgh railway depot. Steam from the resting rail cars obscures the skyscrapers in the distance.
High Noon, 1941
Although the sun is high in the sky, it is barely visible in this image of a Pittsburgh rail yard taken while Watson was on his lunch break from the Hagen Corporation.