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
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)
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):
497 Koppers ovens
385 Wilputte ovens
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
3x 25 t converters
3 x Blooming/Slabbing
1 x Plate
9 x Bar
2 x Strip
6x Steam hammers
3 Presses, 1000 t, 2000 t, 10000 t
on State Street in Clairton,PA. These bars where mostly attended by black steel workers from the nearby U.S. Steel plant. I visited Clairton with my 4×5″ in 2008. In the background you can see the 800-oven coking plant of U.S. Steel, one of the largest worldwide.
The Carnegie Steel Ohio works on the banks of the Mahoning River around 1910.
This mill became part of U.S. Steel later and was closed in 1979.
Starting with the “Black Monday” in September 1977, the closure of Youngstown Sheet And Tube, the once thriving valley of steel was gutted within just one decade.
A recommendable book telling the story of this decline is John Russo’s “Steeltown U.S.A. – Work And Memory In Youngstown” published by the University Press Of Kansas.