While doing research for a book in Arcadia Publishing’s Images of America series, author Daniel J. Burns, a Duquesne, Pa., police officer with a passion for history, was approached by a man who’d retired from a local steel mill.
Some years ago, the man had heard that the complex—now closed and all but abandoned—was scheduled for demolition. Although he was physically handicapped, he decided to explore the mill offices before the bulldozers arrived. In a drawer of an old desk, he found two large photo albums filled with dozens of surprisingly high-quality 8×10 photographs of the mill taken just after the turn of the 20th century. All had complete descriptions and were dated from 1914 to 1918. When he gave the books to Burns, he said that he was “happy to finally find someone who appreciated their true value.”
Burns also did some rescuing of his own. One day at the police station, Burns was talking to the city’s maintenance man as he dumped a box of old city hall files into the outside dumpster. At the top of the trash pile was a torn photo (above). After cleaning up the photo, Burns realized it was a treasure. “The photo, taken in 1909, showed the Duquesne Police Department, posing proudly in front of city hall in their uniforms, brass buttons and all,” Burns says. “It’s the only local photograph known of its kind.”
From the August 2010 Family Tree Magazine