The iron and steel works known as "Societe Anonyme des Acieries et Forges de Firminy " are very similar to the St. Chamond Works. The country stretching from Le Creusot to St. Etienne is the Pittsburg territory of France. Iron and steel constitutes the important outputs in this region. Le Creusot, St. Chamond, and the Firminy works constitute three of the most important of the French iron and steel works and, speaking generally, these three plants differ from one another only in the number of men employed. In the case of Firminy one is impressed with the special grades of steel turned out for automobiles, projectiles, and engine parts.
This company was organized as early as 1854. It was not then a limited company, but was known rather as " La Societe des Acieries et Forges de Firminy." In 1867 the firm was made a limited company. In 1908 the Firminy works were employing about 2,800 men. Steel was made here largely on the SiemensMartin process, and there were two principal foundries for casting. The grade of steel turned out was of very high order, and Firminy was called upon to furnish many of the gun tubes used in French ordnance. This establishment did not attempt to work up these tubes except in the rough. As might be expected in steel works of this character, there was a great deal of material in process of manufacture for railways, tramways, and mines.
The projectile department was one of the most important in this plant, and the name "Firminy" was well known to American ordnance men. The automobile department confined itself to the manufacture of special steel parts, such as shafting, moving engine parts, axles, and turning gear.
Firminy drew iron ore from Algeria and from the Pyrenees. Most of this ore was worked up on the Siemens-Martin system, but puddled steel also forms a part of this plant's output. Another important part of the firm's output is the manufacture of wire for pianos, guitars, and mandolins. In the manufacture of projectiles, shells were worked up to 42 centimeters caliber.
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