Book Launch Pioneering Life of Peter Kirk

Book Launch–August 4, 2021

The Pioneering Life of Peter Kirk—From Derbyshire to the Pacific Northwest

Paperback, ISBN 978-1-09837-091-6, LOC 2021912014, 318 pages, cover price $19.95 US

Steel tycoon. Visionary. Town-builder. Peter Kirk was raised in his family’s 100-year old iron business during the heady Victorian years of rail expansion. He invented his way out of market slumps with new products and machines that made his iron works more efficient. But the American steel industry was a run-away train that threatened his bottom line. Instead of fighting it, he decided to join in by establishing a large-scale foundry in the Pacific Northwest frontier.

He carved a town out of the old growth forests and imported 5600 tons of machinery. To Peter Kirk, “It was a small price to pay to launch so rosy a project.”

He met with hostile immigrant sentiment and feuding railroads. It was an uphill battle to build a steel mill from the ground up, rivaled only by the rugged Cascade Mountains the company had to penetrate to get the ore. The great Financial Panic of 1893 pushed Kirk and his dream to a precipice as his “hope was buried in the womb of the future.”

The Pioneering Life of Peter Kirk is a comprehensive biography compiled from his business papers, family letters, accounts by his business partners, newspapers, and other archived material in England and Washington. It traces his family back to the Industrial Revolution in Chapel-en-le-Frith, England and explains how he was poised for success in the Second Industrial Revolution in Queen Victoria’s reign with the explosion of innovations. This book details Kirk’s success with his Moss Bay Hematite Iron & Steel Company in Workington before traveling 7000 miles to launch a sister mill in the town he helped found–Kirkland, Washington.

Saundra Middleton received her Bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Alaska. She has published dozens of articles for Alaska Business Monthly, Alaska Magazine, and other publications. After studying her family history for decades, she knew Peter Kirk’s unique immigration story had to be shared.

Contact Saundra Middleton, (253-306-3702) for more information or to schedule an event:

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