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 sixteen delegates who attended our founding convention in Pittsburgh.