9/72. U.S. Steel Central Furnaces, Cleveland.

In 1965 there were 237 blast furnaces at 72 locations in the U.S. . This series will briefly introduce all of them.

Library of Congress, Photographer Jet Lowe

In 1965, the United States Steel Corp. was the largest steel producer in the world. In the U.S. it still operated 16 blast furnace sites. One of their lesser known plants was Central Furnaces in Cleveland, OH.
This plant was founded in 1881 by the Cleveland Rolling Mill Co. and supplied iron to the Newburgh steel mill until it was closed in 1933.
After that, the Cuyahoga River plant became a pure ironworks, selling merchant pig iron and hot metal to foundries.
In the 1960ies, after the demolition of furnaces B & C and the rebuilding of blast furnace A in 1954 the mill operated two furnaces.
Blast furnace A now mostly supplied pig iron to the Ford Motor Company’s Cleveland
engine plant.
With no integrated steel production the Central Furnaces became what USS called a “marginal unit” and were shut down in 1978.
Famous German industrial photographers Bernd and Hilla Becher visited the plant in 1979, pictures 3, 92 and 159 in their book “Hochöfen” (Blast Furnaces) show the furnaces.

  • BF A: Ø 26’0” (7,92 m)
  • BF D: Ø 22’6” (6,85 m)



6/72 Bethlehem Steel Co. , Bethlehem Plant.

In 1965 there were 237 blast furnaces at 72 locations in the U.S. . This series will briefly introduce all of them.

Blast Furnaces B,C,D,E

Founded in 1857, Bethlehem Steel Co. was the second largest steel producer in North America after U.S. Steel in the 1960s.
The main plant was located in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.
In 1965, a coking plant with 453 furnaces, 5 blast furnaces, 27 open-hearth furnaces and an electric steel plant were in operation there.

Long products, like bars and structurals, were produced in various rolling mills. The steel beams were famous.
There was also a large forge.

In December 1968 a BOF shop with two 270 t vessels was put into operation.
Iron and steel production in Bethlehem was shut down in November 1995, six years later Bethlehem Steel was bankrupt.

Bethlehem Steel blast furnaces, Bethlehem, 1965.
Blast furnace A: Hearth diameter 21’6″ (6.55 m)
Blast furnace B: Hearth diameter 28’9″ (8.76 m)
Blast furnace C: Hearth diameter 27’11” (8.50 m)
Blast furnace D: Hearth diameter 28’9″ (8.76 m)
Blast furnace E: Hearth diameter 24’0″ (7.31 m)



8/72. Bethlehem Steel, Lackawanna

Image shows the Bethlehem Steel Mill in Lackawanna, NY south of Buffalo at the Lake Erie shoreline probably in the late 1960ies.
Foreground shows the 535 coke ovens along the dock, behind are the seven blast furnaces and (right hand side) the open hearth melt shop (35 furnaces).
The background is also attractive:
Right from the centre we can see National Steel’s Hanna Furnaces and far away in the middle Republic Steel’s Buffalo works.

Lackawanna was closed down in 1983.

  • BF A: Ø 21’3” (6,47 m)
  • BF B: Ø 21’3” (6,47 m)
  • BF C: Ø 28’0” (8,53 m)
  • BF F: Ø 26’0” (7,92 m)
  • BF G: Ø 27’0” (8,22 m)
  • BF H: Ø 29’0” (8,83 m)
  • BF J: Ø 29’11” (9,11 m)

7/72. United States Steel Corp., Gary Works.

Although I generally prefer old style intraurban steel mill sites to modern greenfield facilities Gary, Indiana in the 1960ies must have been the place to be for a steel mill photographer.

Here is the data sheet (1965):

Coke Plant:
497 Koppers ovens
385 Wilputte ovens

Sintering Plant:
5 Strands

Blast Furnaces:
No.1 Ø 6.24 m
No.2 Ø 6.24 m
No.3 Ø 6.24 m
No.4 Ø 8.61 m
No.5 Ø 6.24 m
No.6 Ø 8.53 m
No.7 Ø 8.53 m
No.8 Ø 8.07 m
No.9 Ø 7.01 m
No.10 Ø 8.22 m
No.11 Ø 7.62 m
No.12 Ø 7.62 m

Open Hearth Steel Plants:

24 x 150 t furnaces
14 x 167 t furnaces
6 x   184 t furnaces
4 x 190 t furnaces
2 x 300 t furnaces

Bessemer Plant:

3x 25 t converters

Rolling Mills:

3 x Blooming/Slabbing
1x Billet
1x Rail
1 x Plate
9 x Bar
2 x Strip


6x Steam hammers
3 Presses, 1000 t, 2000 t, 10000 t