Some might describe Peter Kirk's story as one of riches to rags, but it is more like, top hat and tails to smart casual. This biography begins with a short introduction to the English iron mogul and how he arrived in Seattle, Washington Territory in 1886. It explains his family's 100-year history in the iron industry, riding the wave of success during the Industrial Revolution through Britain's successful Victorian era rail expansion. Transferring that legacy down the generations did not always go smoothly. Family curses, rivalries, and a propensity for those named "Peter" to leave the security of the family business catapulted Peter out of the Derbyshire (county) valley where his Kirk family had lived for 600 years.
The story follows his early business successes in Workington (Cumbria county), often facilitated by Peter Kirk's inventions in creating efficiency in the iron-producing process and new products in a competitive market. Britain's status as the world's top iron producer was yielding to America's burgeoning growth. Kirk had to branch out in the New World to keep his ironworks solvent and his 1000 employees working.
He traveled to the American continent on a fact-finding mission and discovered Washington Territory had resources and opportunity to build a new steel works. Confronted with hurdles like land laws prejudiced against immigrants, demanding mining companies, railroad and frontier town competition, insufficient cash flow, and the worst recession in American history, Kirk struggled to accomplish his greatest dream. However, he did not give up on Kirkland, the little town he carved out of the Pacific Northwest forests.
Away from the engineer's desk and out of the boardroom, Kirk was an accomplished musician and devoted family man. Unusual for the Victorian era, his wife, Mary Ann, partnered with him in some of his business dealings. But troubles hit on the family front as well. Children died prematurely; scandal threatened his family's status; Mary Ann returned to England. This book is a journey of generations, across continents, through life's upheavals, celebrating successes, and adjusting to changing times and cultures.