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.

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.

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