6/72 Bethlehem Steel Co. , Bethlehem Plant.

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)

 

 

5/72 Armco Steel Corp., Houston Plant.

In 1965 there were 237 blast furnaces at 72 locations in the U.S. . This series will briefly introduce all of them.
Armco steel houston
Although Texas was mainly known for its cattle empires and petrochemical industry it was also home to one of the most unusual iron and steel works in the US; The Armco Steel plant in Houston.
It was built in 1942 by the US government as part of the National Defense Program to decentralize the steel industry and take advantage of the overseas port of Houston.
In 1946, the plant was acquired by Sheffield Steel of Texas and joined Armco in 1949.
It was the first blast furnace site in Texas and processed ores from Mexico, Texas and later from Brazil.
In 1965, a coking plant with 62 ovens, one blast furnace and a steel mill with 8 open hearth and two electric arc furnaces were in operation on the banks of the Houston Shipping Canal. Bar, rod and plate were produced in various rolling mills.
In 1970 Armco shut down the open hearth furnaces.The Sheffield works now became probably the only integrated steelworks in the western world where pig iron was processed exclusively in electric arc furnaces (117 t and 175 t).
In 1972, Armco commissioned one of the world’s first direct reduction units (DRI) in Houston. Cheap Texan natural gas was used here for the reduction of iron pellets.
In 1983, the Houston facility was shut down.

Armco blast furnace, Houston, 1965.
Blast furnace 1: Hearth diameter 26’6” (8,07 m)

4/72 Armco Steel Corp., Middletown Plant.

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

Armco steel blast furnace

Blast furnace 3

The American Rolling Mill Company (Armco) had it’s main plant in Middletown, Ohio.
Although the plant was built in 1900, a blast furnace was not built there until 1953. Until then, the pig iron was supplied by the nearby Hamilton ironworks.
In 1965 Armco-Middletown operated a 76-oven coke plant built by Wilputte, 1 blast furnace, and 13 open hearth furnaces.
Most steel was finished in Armco’s 80” wide hot strip mill.

Armco blast furnaces, Hamilton, 1965.
Blast furnace 3: Hearth diameter 28’0” (8,53 m)

In Google Maps

Socialist Experiments

Weirton Steel Hard Hat
In the heartlands of the USA, of all places, a social (some spoke of a socialist) experiment in the steel industry took place in 1984.
The workers of the Weirton steelworks in West Virginia took over 100 % of their mill from the National Steel Comp. .
It now was the only integrated steel mill in the western hemisphere that was employee owned.
The Employee Stock Option Plan (ESOP) was ment to save 8000 jobs in Weirton.
Although the mill initially became profitable again, the plan failed in the end.
In 2003 Weirton Steel went bankrupt and was sold to ISG for only $237 million in 2004.
With the exception of one cold rolling mill, owned by ArcelorMittal, the plant has been shut down and is currently being demolished.
I visited the site in 2004 and was allowed to take this hard hat with me as a reminder of the good old socialist times.
Weirton Steel

3/72 Armco Steel Corp., Hamilton Plant.

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

Armco’s Hamilton plant in New Miami, OH consisted of a 110 oven coking plant, two sinter strands and two blast furnaces.
Pig iron was supplied to Armco’s nearby Middletown steel making site.
The Hamilton plant was closed down in July 1988.

Armco blast furnaces, Hamilton, 1965.
Blast furnace 1: Hearth diameter 17’0” (5,18 m)
Blast furnace 2: Hearth diameter 18’0” (5,48 m)

In Google Maps

2/72 Armco Steel Corp., Ashland Works.

BF Bellefonte, Amanda

In 1965 there were 237 blast furnaces at 72 locations in the U.S. . This series will briefly introduce all of them.
The American Rolling Mill Company was founded in 1899 in Middletown, OH and started up its plant in Ashland, Ky in 1910.
Two blast furnaces were in operation there in 1965.
The Bellefonte furnace built in 1942 and Amanda that replaced the older Norton furnace in 1963.

Ashland had a 10 furnace open hearth melt shop that was replaced by a BOF shop in the late 1960ies plus strip and plate rolling mills.
Bellefonte blast furnace was idled in 1996 including most other facilities. Amanda was closed down in 2015.

Armco blast furnaces, Ashland, 1965.
Blast furnace Bellefonte: Hearth diameter 28’9” (8,76 m)
Blast furnace Amanda: Hearth diameter 30’6” (9,20 m)

In Google Maps.

1/72 Alan Wood Steel Co.

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

BF 3. American Iron and Steel Institute

Alan Wood Co. in Conshohocken, Pa. was founded in 1929 and was one of the smaller producers.
The company operated two blast furnaces and a coking plant (151 ovens) on the opposite side of the Schuylkill River in Swedeland. “Swede Furnaces” No. 2 & 3 produced pig iron for the upstream open hearth steelworks at Ivy Rock.
The main products were sheet and strip steel. Annual hot rolled capacity was about 1.25 mio. tonnes.
In August 1977 the plant was one of the first in the USA to fall victim to the steel crisis and was closed.
In 1968 a BOF shop had been built, probably one of the most short-lived in the USA.

Alan Wood blast furnaces, Swedeland, 1965.
Blast furnace 2: Hearth diameter 18’0” (5,48 m)
Blast furnace 3: Hearth diameter 18’0” (5,48 m)

In Google Maps.

And the Wolf Finally Came

Almost 50 years ago, on 31 March 1970, a remarkable era ended largely unnoticed by the public.
After 69 years of unchallenged leadership as the world’s largest steel company, U.S. Steel out of Pittsburgh had been ousted from this position by the newly founded Nippon Steel Corp. of Japan.
Just two years later, the Soviet Union announced that in 1971 it had produced more steel than the U.S., the world’s largest producer at that time.
In the 1950s, the American steel industry still employed 700,000 of the best paid workers worldwide. Almost 90% of these jobs are lost today.
The global steel crisis that began in 1975 hit the U.S. harder than any other industrialized nation. Entire regions such as the Mahoning and the Monongahela Valleys were economically devastated.
The reasons for this decline, which is unique especially in its speed, were discussed by John P. Hoerr already in 1988 in his book “And the Wolf Finally Came”.
The best book on this subject I know.
In 1965, when the American empire of steel still seemed to be in order, there were 237 blast furnaces at 72 locations. A soon to be started series will introduce all of them.

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.