In the late 1880s, steel had virtually replaced wood and stone as the
primary load-carrying material in the erection of bridges and buildings.
This abrupt change in structural materials brought about a demand for a
new type of worker-bridgemen and architectural ironworkers. Ironworkers
became known as "cowboys in the sky." As these daring, young,
independent men aged and became husbands and providers, their thoughts
turned to providing for their families during sickness, injury and death
and the realization by joining together, their voices became stonger,
unified and heard. Thus, the International Association of Bridge and
Structural Iron Workers of America was established on February 4, 1896
by 16 delegates who attended our founding convention in Pittsburgh.