800 blast furnaces.

Blast Furnaces of the world
The blast furnace, as one hears from its operators, will soon follow the dinosaurs and disappear.
Therefore, as a by-product of the pandemic time-out, a contribution to its history:
The nearly 800 blast furnaces existing in the western hemisphere (so called “free world”) in 1965.
Corrections are welcome.
But please note that this map refers to the year 1965.

10/72. Republic Steel Corp., South Chicago Works.

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

In the 1960s, Republic Steel was the No. 3 North American steel producer, albeit at a considerable distance from US Steel and Bethlehem Steel.
They maintained a large number of production sites, including several marginal ones, ten of which produced pig iron.
One smaller site was the plant on the banks of the Calumet River in South Chicago, once one of the busiest steel making areas in the U.S. .
In 1965, Republic Steel operated a small coking plant, blast furnace, open hearth and electric arc steelworks, seven rolling mills and a seamless tube production facility there.
Employment peaked at 6.335 in 1970.
In 1977 the plant was modernized on a large scale and a Q-BOP meltshop with two 225 t converters was installed. The electric arc mill was equipped with three new 225 t electric arc furnaces.
The blast furnace was shut down in 1982 and the coking plant continued to operate.
In 1984, Republic Steel merged with Jones and Laughlin Steel and operated under the name of LTV Corp.
The Q-BOP melt shop was sold to Geneva Steel in Utah in 1990 and reopened in 1991.

  • BF: Ø 28’0” (8,53 m)


The mysterious Ougrée experimental blast furnace..

Experimetal blast furnace
..was put into operation in May 1953 on ground of the Ougrée-Marihaye steel company in Belgium. It was a paneuropean research project sponsored by the ECSC and there was a second shaft furnace at the HOAG steel works in Oberhausen, Germany.
The Ougrée-furnace was quiet unusual not only by it’s size (just a 9 m tall shaft) but by it’s oval shaped hearth too.

Casting house

The furnace ran several campaigns to test different ore and coke burdens, oxygen injection etc. .
It’s inner and outer design was changed several times. From 1958 on the project was called AIRBO (Association International pour les Recherches de base au Bas fourneau d’Ougrée).
The Ougrée experimental blast furnace was closed down in 1971.

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)



21/38 DHHU, Werk Dortmund

1959 gab es in der Bundesrepublik Deutschland noch 156 Hochöfen an 38 Standorten. Alle Standorte und alle Hochöfen sollen in dieser Serie im Kurzportrait vorgestellt werden.

Von den fünf Hochöfen des Werkes Dortmund (Union) der Dortmund-Hörder Hüttenunion gibt es heute nur noch wenige Zeugnisse.
Das Bild zeigt von links nach rechts die Hochöfen 1-5. nur die Öfen 1-3 besaßen Ende der 1950er Jahre schon Schrägaufzüge (Skip und Senkkübel), alle Hochöfen waren noch durch die Elektrohängebahn erreichbar; 4 & 5 hatten nur diese Möglichkeit. Auf der Südseite der Ofengruppe existierte noch eine Koksseilbahn.
Der Hochofen 3 wurde 1959 neu zugestellt und mit einer Skipbegichtung ausgerüstet.
Der gleiche Umbau erfolgte am Hochofen 5 drei Jahre später. Trotz dieser Investitionen legte die DHHU die gesamte Roheisenerzeugung am Standort Dortmund im September 1963 still und verlagerte sie nach Hörde.

Das Hüttenwerk in Dortmund erzeugte 1959 1.031.448 t Roheisen.

Hochöfen DHHU, Werk Dortmund, 1959.
Hochofen 1: Gestelldurchmesser 6,5 m
Hochofen 2: Gestelldurchmesser 7,0 m
Hochofen 3: Gestelldurchmesser 7,0 m
Hochofen 4: Gestelldurchmesser 7,0 m
Hochofen 5: Gestelldurchmesser 6,5 m


Servola Blast Furnace shut down.

Trieste Blast furnaces

Blast furnaces 3&2

Blast furnace 3 of the Trieste, Italy ironworks was shut down on 9.4. . Furnace 2 has been idled since 2009.
The Trieste Ironworks has been producing iron since 1897 and was a company of many names, e.g. :
 Krainische Industrie Gesellschaft,
 Società Altiforni e Acciaierie della Venezia Giulia,
 Attività Industriali Triestine,
 Altiforni e Ferriere di Servola,
Blast furnace 2 was built by DEMAG from Germany in 1963 with a hearth diameter of 5,3 m. Furnace 3 was largely identical in construction. Both were considered to be ultra-modern with their belt charging system and bell-less top.
Servola blast furnaces


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)

British Steel Ltd.

former Tata Steel, Corus, British Steel Corp., Appleby Frodingham is on the verge of collapse.
Talks with the government on rescuing the steel group failed on Wednesday.
British Steel is owned by private equity group Greybull Capital, main products are rails.
According to Greybull shrinking orders due to Brexit-related issues and  difficult market conditions are to blame for the financial problems.

Blast furnaces Victoria, Anne, Bess and Mary.