When I first came to Pittsburgh, I had a limited understanding of the local history that went something like this: Andrew Carnegie made his fortune in the steel industry, he promptly gave away his fortune by putting a library on every street corner, and finally when he died in 1919, he burst into flames and from his ashes rose the Pittsburgh Steelers football team. Everybody knows this story. But I bet you didn’t know all five of these Carnegie facts…
1. He Paid Money to Make Words Easier to Spell
In 1906, Carnegie founded the “Simplified Spelling Board” with the purpose of reforming the English language to make words easier to spell. The board promoted such words as “thru,” “tho,” “surprize,” and “dropt.” After nearly ten years of funding the ridiculed organization, Carnegie backed out of the group, stating that he’d “had enuf.”
2. He Had a Dinosaur Named After Him
The dinosaur Diplodocus carnegiei was named for Carnegie after he sponsored the expedition that discovered its remains in Utah. The original fossil skeleton is assembled and stands in the Hall of Dinosaurs at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh, PA.
3. He Tried to Buy a Country???
Well, not exactly. Carnegie was an opponent of American imperialism and thus opposed to the annexation of the Philippines and Cuba upon the end of the Spanish-American War. Carnegie offered to donate $20 million to the Philippines so they could buy their independence from the United States, but to no avail.
4. He Inspired the Richest Duck in the World
The Disney character Scrooge McDuck is thought to have been inspired by Carnegie.
5. He was a Momma’s Boy
Carnegie dearly loved his mother, Margaret Morrison. After her death, Carnegie once paid off the mortgage of a complete stranger because she looked like his mother.
For another dose of Pittsburgh history, look out for the short film Steel Town which we will be filming this fall in Pittsburgh. Steel Town is an 18-minute historical drama about the 1892 Homestead Strike. The story follows a family of poverty-stricken steelworkers who strike against Carnegie Steel and eventually face off against an army of Pinkertons. The film will capture an important moment in Pittsburgh history, but we can’t make it without your support.
HELP “STEEL TOWN” GET MADE BY DONATING TO ITS KICKSTARTER: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/516902088/steel-town