From time to time, we feature artifacts from the collection on our Facebook page. After they have been featured they find there way over here to our website where they are permanently displayed and enjoyed by our website visitors. If you have any comments, or would like to suggest an Artifact Spotlight of you own, please let us know.


This metal lunchbox belonged to Edward Kusmeroski. Mr. Kusmeroski began work in CF&I’s Pipe Foundry in 1935 and beginning in 1937, became a regular contributing journalist to the CF&I newspaper, The CF&I Blast. He left employment for several years during WWII. Following the War, Mr. Kusmeroski was rehired as a millwright and worked in the 25” mill.

Many of CF&I’s employee’s lunchboxes were similar—each had a small nameplate holder riveted to the side for the owner’s name to be written on a small piece of paper and slipped into the holder. Originally black, this particular lunchbox was obviously well used due to the several dings and wearing of paint on the sides, top, and handle. Inside the lunchbox is a metal clasp which was used to keep a thermos, possibly filled each day with coffee or water. What would fill a steelworker’s lunchbox to be enjoyed at mealtime?

During the 1930s and 1940s when this lunchbox was used, the CF&I Blast encouraged housewives in their “Articles of Interest to Women” page to prepare “good, hearty meals that your husband enjoys.” Examples of recipes printed in the 1930s and 1940s include “Vienna Sausage Sandwiches”, “Artichoke Salad with French Dressing” and “Jiffy Molasses Cookies.” Donated to the Steelworks Center in 2002.

Optical Pyrometer

With temperatures reaching into the thousands of degrees in the steelmaking process, CF&I employees found it much safer to regulate and record accurate temperatures using a tool known as an optical pyrometer. This pyrometer, which dates to the 1940s or 1950s, measures temperature by means of calculating the intensity of the light of a particular wavelength emitted by a hot substance, such as steel. The pyrometer makes it calculations by comparing the radiation of the hot object produced with the radiation produced by a hot filament (such as a thin wire through which electricity flows, such as the wire in an old-fashioned incandescent light bulb, which glows white when it gets hot). Accurate temperatures are important in the steelmaking process to allow for scientific processes, such as carbonization, to occur.
To use the tool, the operator would look through the telescopic eyepiece, through a red filter (to protect his or her eyes) at the object they were measuring, such as a ladle full of steel.  What they would see is a dull red glow from the hot object with a line of brighter light from the filament and superimposed on top of the image of the steel. The knob on the side could be turned to adjust the electric current passing through the filament. This makes the filament a bit hotter or colder and alters the light it gives off. When the filament was exactly the same brightness as the hot object they were measuring, it effectively would disappear because the radiation produced would be the same color. At that point, the operator would stop looking through the eyepiece and read the temperature on the side of the meter, recording it on a chart. Donated to the Steelworks Center of the West by EVRAZ Rocky Mountain Steel in 2004.

Surveying Compass

Throughout the late 19th and 20th century, CF&I dominated local and regional land ownership in the Western United States with land holdings and mining interests in six different states. To decide where to purchase land or where to mine, CF&I employed dozens of surveying teams to examine the land before a significant investment in time and money was made. Surveying is the process using measurement and mapping of the surrounding environment using mathematical calculations.

This mountain transit with partial vertical circle compass and Y-level were just two of many tools used by the dozens of employees who surveyed land for the company. After returning from the field, their calculations would then be given to the staff cartographers who would painstakingly draw maps detailing their findings. Donated to the Steelworks Center in 2006.


Steger and Sons Piano

In the era of silent films of the early 20th century, a trip to the cinema might mean crowding onto a bench to watch a film projected on to a large bed sheet mounted to a wall. Because the films were silent, sound would be courtesy of a solo pianist or other musical instruments played by an orchestra. The music they played supplied a mood of tension, romance, or thrills during the climatic parts of the film. Talented musicians also might supply sound effects such as the wind, gunshots, or church bells or during key moments of the film using commonly found items or even their instruments.

The Clyne Theater, located at 417-419 West Northern Avenue, opened in June of 1917 with a showing of Satan’s Private Door, a Musty Suffer comedy, and an “athletic short” film. According to a Pueblo Chieftain article, more than 3,000 people attended the films throughout the day. The theater included 800 seats on the lower level and 300 in the balcony. Advertisements for the theater describe it as having gradually sloping seats, a sunken orchestra pit under the front of the stage, and a drinking fountain in the lobby. In August 1934, the Clyne closed for a short time to install the latest in theater technology, an RCA Victor Photophone High Fidelity Sound System, rendering the piano an obsolete piece of theater technology. The Clyne Theater remained in operation showing films until the late 1960s. The Steger and Sons Piano was donated to the Steelworks Center in 2007.


Scatter Tags

An interesting advertising item used by the coal industry throughout the United States from the 1920 through the 1950s was the scatter tag. These cheap cardboard or foil covered cardboard tags were quite literally scattered in loads of stoker coal purchased by customers for domestic heating to reinforce company loyalty and reassure that the customers were receiving the brand they had purchased. Most generally they were circular in shape, although some were triangular or square.

The CF&I advertising department promoted the Diavolo domestic coal brand in many local and regional magazines and newspapers as well as in their own publications. Using a recognizable logo of three devils, their slogan promoted “CF&I Coals for More Heat.”
In 1926, CF&I touted that “it takes about 150,000 40-ton railroad cars to transport one year’s production of Diavolo Coals to market.” The signature three devils logo was used in the merchandising and sales departments. As part of the marketing effort, the company, for a time, also used logo to increase visibility of the product on the sides of trucks while in transit.


Thacher’s Calculating Slide Rule

Before the development of digital calculators, multiplication, division and other complicated mathematical operations were commonly accomplished with slide rules such as this Thacher’s Calculating Instrument. In 1881, “computing engineer” Edwin Thacher of Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, received a patent for an improvement in slide rules. Working with London design firm W.F. Stanly & Co., Thacher developed a slide rule with scales equivalent to 57-66 feet in length instead of the 10 inch length of common slide rules. In addition, Thacher’s Calculator enabled calculations to four or five decimal places, making it a valuable tool in the disciplines of science, engineering, business and commerce.

CF&I’s engineers used this slide rule in the early 1900s to calculate the volume of gas produced in the Blast Furnaces. This slide rule includes scales for multiplication, division and is able to calculate squares and square roots. In addition, the instructions printed on the base of the item ensured accuracy to ±0.0001. There were no trigonometric scales on this rule. The scales are printed on paper sheets which are pasted to a drum. The drum is held in place with a brass frame, which is affixed to a wooden base. The user is able to roll the wooden handles at each end, which in turn, roll the drum to line up the scales to make the calculations. The slats that encompass the drum are also able to rotate for various calculations. Because of the tiny printing on the drum and slats, the original design of this rule also had a metal extension affixed to the base, to which a thumbscrew and magnifying glass were once attached. It was donated to the Steelworks Center in 2003.


Dorthea Trask Hat

Based in small part on a real-life munitions worker, but primarily a fictitious character, the strong, bandanna-clad “Rosie the Riveter” became perhaps the most iconic image of working women during World War II. A constant safety concern in industrial environments was how to keep women’s long hair out of the machinery. A bandanna wrapped around the head solved the problem easily and inexpensively. A snood, a small bag attached to a band of cloth or hat and worn at the back of the head, turbans and crocheted hair nets were also popular head wear for working women during the 1940s.

This blue hat was worn by Dorthea (nee High) Trask while employed at CF&I. The snood in the back was for tucking the hair inside to keep it out of her face and away from any machinery. Lapel pins on the front of the hat include the Army Navy “E” Award lapel pin, a bronze eagle and anchor, and a round pin that states “United Steelworkers of America 1945.” Mrs. Trask worked in the Bolt, Ball and Spike Mill during the War years.

Blasting Box

This blasting box was used at the Sunrise, Wyoming Iron Ore mine to detonate dynamite in the first quarter or of the 20th century. Created by the Dupont Company, blasting boxes such as these were found in mining operations throughout the country. This model of blasting box could detonate anywhere between one and 30 blasting caps at once. Dynamite was useful to help remove coal and iron ore from the earth. Once it was blasted out of the earth, the mineral wealth was put on the Colorado and Wyoming Railway and brought to the Minnequa Steelworks at Pueblo where the steelmaking process would begin. Donated to the Steelworks Center in 2006 by Robert and Doris MacCannon.

John Johns’ Trunk

John Johns served as the chief superintendent of the CF&I’s boiler shop at the turn of the 20th century. This trunk, filled to the brim with family heirlooms and everyday necessities, came with him as he made his way from Wales to Pueblo to begin work at CF&I. Due to the growth of the steel mill and employment it offered, Pueblo in the early twentieth century attracted a large number of immigrant laborers. The groups represented led to Pueblo becoming the most ethnically and culturally diverse city in Colorado and the West. Immigrant groups, upon arriving in Pueblo, brought with them their life treasures along with the determination to succeed.

Colorado Supply Company Table

The Colorado Supply Company, a subsidiary of CF&I, provided residents with necessities such as food, gasoline, clothing and other household items. Originally located on the corner of Northern and Abriendo Avenues, heavy business in 1902 forced the store to move to a larger building on the corner of Baystate and Evans Avenues. Bessemer residents also had the option of shopping at other general mercantile stores along the Northern or Evans Avenues, and specialty outlets also were found throughout the community including laundries, bakeries, drug stores, cobblers, meat markets, pasta makers and millinery shops. Sold in the Colorado Supply Company Store in the late 1930s, employees and their families could purchase this table and chairs set to decorate their homes and make eating meals a family activity.

Bessemer Bank Teller Cage

In the shadow of the steel work’s blast furnaces, residents of Bessemer transacted business at Bessemer Bank, located at the corner of Baystate and Evans Avenues. Opening in 1902 under the direction of G.H. Williams, the bank offered checking and savings accounts, foreign currency exchange and other financial services.

Bessemer Bank was sold in 1910 to Mahlon D. Thatcher, Sr., Fred O. Roof, and G.W. Bowen, and renamed the Minnequa Bank. At that time, it moved to a larger building at the corner of Northern and Evans Avenues. Several generations of steelworkers cashed paychecks, financed homes and conducted other business at the Minnequa Bank. In 2001, the Minnequa Bank chain was purchased by Vectra Bank which still operates today.

This teller cage was used in both Bessemer and the Minnequa Bank branch on Northern Avenue until the 1950s. After a building remodel, it was transferred to the basement of the building and placed in the employee breakroom for more than 50 years.

Minnequa Milk Jug

In an effort to improve the health and welfare of its employees and their families, CF&I began a medical department in 1880. In 1917, CF&I purchased a dairy farm on land about 5 miles south of Pueblo to provide milk for its hospital patients. New research of physicians and the medical community in general associated the benefits of steam sterilization and glass containers and CF&I physicians required that glass bottles and equipment used within the hospital be sterile. A shift of employees was assigned to care for the cows housed at the dairy including milk men, bottlers, and veterinarians. The dairy was used well into the 1930s.

Karymor Merry-Go-Round

The R.F. Lamar Company, located at the corner of East Ninth and Erie Streets in Pueblo, gained a reputation for building play equipment that would “develop boys and girls into worthwhile citizens.” Using CF&I Steel, the Lamar company equipment catalog was extensive, selling swings, teeter-totters, slides, monkey bars and vertical bars. This Karymor Merry-Go-Round entertained thousands of children from the 1930s until the 1950s at the Prairie Hill School in rural Pueblo County, Colorado.

Retirement Bell

Given to CF&I president Rudy Smith at his retirement dinner April 5, 1968. When long time employees retired, they were often given small gifts by their colleagues and close co-workers as a memento of their many years spent at CF&I.

The Shift Change Whistle

As the “Voice of Pueblo,” Colorado Fuel and Iron Company’s shift change whistle not only announced shift changes and lunch breaks for mil workers, but also kept time for the surrounding community. Originally powered with steam, the whistle was blown several times a day to mark the beginning of each shift at 7 am, mid-day shift at 3 pm and the night time shift at 11 pm. It was also blown at noon to mark the lunch hour. The last whistle blown signaling a shift change was December 31, 1988.

The Nail Machine

Built by the Glader Manufacturing of Chicago,Illinois, in the 1930s, the Colorado Fuel and Iron Company purchased it in 1945 for use in the wire mill for manufacturing nails. The machine weighs approximately 2,500 pounds and at the time it was at the mill, could produce 3 finish, 4 finish and smooth box nails. It could produce 560 small nails or 180 large nails per minute.

Golden Gate Bridge Cables

Bundle of bridge cables created from the cables used in the building of the Golden Gate Bridge by CF&I Subsidiary company Roebling and Sons in 1937. This was given to donor Eugene Georgine, a salesman with CF&I for many years to show the complexity and strength of bridge cables to potential customers.