General view of a furnace used to smelt ore at the American Vanadium Company (later the Vanadium Corporation of America) plant facilities in Bridgeville, Pennsylvania. The Bridgeville chemical and metallurgical plant was used to smelt crude ore mined at the Company's deposit in Mina Ragra, Peru to produce ferro-vanadium.
Vanadium, a malleable transition metal, was discovered in its natural state in Mexico by Andres Manuel Del Rio in 1801, though it was not isolated and recognized as an element until 1830. Following the discovery of a large deposit of vanadium in the Peruvian Andes in 1905, vanadium became commercially viable and significantly impacted the steel industry. In 1906, the American Vanadium Company was organized to mine the new deposit, known as Mina Ragra, and use of vanadium to produce specialty steel alloys quickly became widespread, particularly in the burgeoning automobile industry.
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Vanadium Corporation of America. “Furnace at American Vanadium Company Plant,” n.d. Vanadium Corporation of America Photograph Collection, Box 1. Science History Institute. Philadelphia. https://digital.sciencehistory.org/works/zk51vh28w.
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