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Saturday’s Iron Bowl and America’s water pipe

Saturday will be the 84th playing of the Auburn vs. Alabama football game. The first was played in 1893, and following a tie in 1907, the game was not played again until 1948 after a mandate to resume by the state legislature. It’s as well-known as any college football rivalry, and many fans of other teams will acknowledge it as the nation’s most intense.

Why is it called the Iron Bowl, who named it that, and why?

In 1964, Auburn’s Coach Ralph “Shug” Jordan said the “Iron Bowl against Alabama would be Auburn’s bowl game”, and the moniker has stuck tightly ever since. But why?
First of all, it was played in Birmingham’s Legion Field, the “Football Capital of the South,” until Auburn moved their alternating home game to campus in 1989 and Alabama later followed, and Birmingham is well known for her iron and steel industry. In fact, the Magic City grew like magic due to deposits of iron, coal and limestone in the Birmingham-area Jones Valley and the rapid rise of a massive iron and steel industry. All three producers of ductile iron pipe, the primary material for our nation’s public water supply systems, have operations in Birmingham. Other iron and steel manufacturers have operations in the area and across the state producing various applications of iron and steel to build our infrastructure, automobiles and durable goods.

The primary reason the Iron Bowl is so appropriately named is that it’s a tough game, played by tough men, fighting toughly for their teams and universities, and their fans care perhaps even more. Tough, hard-hitting, durable, resilient. All describe both the players in the Iron Bowl and the performance of iron pipe.
What’s not as well known is that today’s modern ductile iron pipe is made of recycled iron and steel, requires less energy to pump water through, has a long and dependable service life, and is recyclable if retired from service. In fact, it’s the only pressure pipe material to be certified as sustainable by the SMaRT gold rating. Iron pipe is good for the environment, good for public health and fire protection, and good for a utility’s long-term financial strength.

So when you tune in to Saturday’s Iron Bowl at Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn, you can be the most clever one in the room and speak of the origin of the name as well as the attributes of ductile iron pipe from Birmingham, Alabama.

Maury D. Gaston is Chairman of the Alabama Iron and Steel Council (AISC), a council of Manufacture Alabama; a 37-year veteran of AMERICAN Ductile Iron Pipe in Birmingham; and an Auburn University mechanical engineering graduate. The AISC operates as an independent industry council of Manufacture Alabama, the state’s only trade association dedicated exclusively to manufacturers and their supplier/vendor partners. AISC member companies include AM/NS Calvert, AMERICAN Cast Iron Pipe Company, CMC Steel, McWane, Inc., Nucor Steel, Outokumpu Stainless USA, SSAB Americas, U.S. Pipe & Foundry, United States Steel, Alabama Power Company, Colburn Construction, Inc., ERP Compliant Coke, OMI-Bisco Refractories, O’Neal Manufacturing Services, Reno Refractories, Southeast Gas and Southern Alloy Corporation.