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New 'Baby Arch' in Pennsylvania honors boilermakers who built Gateway Arch

The 'Baby Arch' stands outside a visitors center in Warren, Pennsylvania. (June2017)
Provided by Walt Atwood

More than a half-century after the 630-foot Gateway Arch was “topped out” on the St. Louis riverfront, a 14-foot “Baby Arch” has been unveiled in a little town in northwestern Pennsylvania to honor the boilermakers who built the 142 triangular sections of the national monument.

“It’s a baby masterpiece,’’ said Ed Atwood, who led the effort to construct the tribute outside a visitors center in Warren, Pennsylvania.

The stainless steel sections of the Gateway Arch were fabricated at a now-closed Pittsburgh-Des Moines Steel plant in Warren from 1962 to 1965 and shipped 700 miles by railcar to St. Louis where ironworkers assembled the shiny behemoth on the bank of the Mississippi River. Like the iconic St. Louis Arch, the replica is also constructed of polished stainless steel and built on a catenary curve.

“The design is fantastic,’’ Atwood told St. Louis Public Radio in a phone interview after the Baby Arch was dedicated last week. “Of course, you know that because you have the real St. Louis Arch. Anybody who sees it that isn’t in awe, there’s something wrong with them as far as I’m concerned.’’

Atwood, 74, says the project is important to Warren because few people under the age of 50 know that the Gateway Arch was made in Pennsylvania by skilled craftsmen.

“They’re amazed,’’ he said, adding, “Well, you erected the St. Louis Arch, but it was built right here.’’

For Atwood, the project was a labor of love to honor the skill of local boilermakers, including his father-in-law who was the “ace welder” on the Arch sections. Atwood, himself a retired boilermaker, didn’t work on the Arch, but he visited the PDM plant frequently and watched the construction process.

The group raised about $12,000, plus donations of service and materials, for the Baby Arch. They’re now working on signs and trying to collect the names of the 280 boilermakers who worked on the Arch.

Atwood says the replica is a hit with visitors who stop to have their photos taken with the Baby Arch. And there’s an upside to its petite size:

“It’s really neat because you can get the whole thing in the picture — and you’re in it, too,’’ he said.

* The "Baby Arch" is located about 1 mile west of Warren on U.S. 6, the Roosevelt Highway, in Conewango Townhip. The address for the visitors center is 22045 Route 6, Warren, Pennsylvania, 16365. Here's a map.

* To learn more about the role of the Pennsylvania boilermakers in constructing the Gateway Arch, read our previous story:

Pennsylvania boilermakers want you to know that they helped build the Arch, too

Mary Delach Leonard is a veteran journalist who joined the St. Louis Beacon staff in April 2008 after a 17-year career at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, where she was a reporter and an editor in the features section. Her work has been cited for awards by the Missouri Associated Press Managing Editors, the Missouri Press Association and the Illinois Press Association. In 2010, the Bar Association of Metropolitan St. Louis honored her with a Spirit of Justice Award in recognition of her work on the housing crisis. Leonard began her newspaper career at the Belleville News-Democrat after earning a degree in mass communications from Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville, where she now serves as an adjunct faculty member. She is partial to pomeranians and Cardinals.

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