Republic Steel Corp.

Youngstown, O. - These photos were submitted to the site by Eugene K., of Hermitage PA. Gene was kind enough to mail me actual prints of the decommissioned blast furnaces at Republic Steel's Hazelton furnaces that he developed in the 80's. These were taken sometime between shut down and demolition. I have not seen photos from these angles before and couldn't be more pleased to share them with you all. Posterity baby. 

Here is a bit more about Gene's connection to the steel industry in his words: "I grew up in Boardman in the late seventies/early eighties. My father was a steelworker. He worked for a short time at the Edgar Thompson USS works in Braddock, PA out of high school, then he moved to Youngstown after WWII and worked at GF (General Fireproofing) for 42 years. I sort of grew up around the mills since my maternal Grandmother lived in Strudders and my paternal Grandmother lived on Campbell. I do remember the smells of quenching coke, watching slag trucks go down Lowellville Rd with red hot loads or crossing Center St. bridge at night and seeing the molten iron flowing out of the blast furnace and the workers dressed in their fire suits!"

What great photos, and a quintessential Steel Valley story to go along with them. Thanks again for submitting Gene! 

Carnegie Steel Co.

Youngstown, O. - This photo appears to show the dedication of the new company owned playground near Carnegie's Upper and Lower Union Mills. I am not sure of the location, but with the mill so close in the background I'll guess it was in the Crescent Street/West Federal area somewhere. 

Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co.

No location given - A Bessemer Converter blow lighting up the mill at Youngstown Sheet & Tube. Not to be confused with Bessemer Street on the Westside, or Bessemer, PA., this was the method for turning iron to steel prior to the open hearth process. They would blow oxygen through the hot iron and the impurities would puke out of the top and rain down like hell fire and brimstone. That's what you're seeing here. 

If you want to see one of these beasts in person they have preserved one at Station Square in Pittsburgh. That converter was built by the Pennsylvania Engineering Corp. on the south side of New Castle which was demolished recently. The converter is cold now, but it originally worked at Ambridge, PA. 

Ambridge is an odd name right? It was a company town, full of employees of the US Steel subsidiary American Bridge Co. Get it, Am Bridge?  

Stop 5 Riot

Youngstown, O. - Today, 6/19/2017, marks the 80 year anniversary of the Stop 5 Riot at the gates of Republic Steel on Poland Avenue. This event is one that should never be forgotten. 

Below is an eyewitness account of the bloodshed that took place that day, which was called ladies day where the picket lines were manned by wives of the striking workers. There are other accounts out there, from the police and the chairman of the board of Repbulic at that time, but we should start here. 

 Courtesy of Ohio Memory Connection. 

Courtesy of Ohio Memory Connection. 

The most important passage from this account, in my opinion, is this: "Soon thereafter, the sky was lit up with flares fired from the plant and was followed with a fusillade of machine gun fire from the overhead cranes in the old tube mill". Jesus Criminelli. 

The Vindicator reported that over 160,000 rounds of ammunition were purchased for the strike between Youngstown Sheet & Tube and Republic Steel. Let that sink in. 

The photos of National Guard machine gunners below were taken in Warren not long after the Stop 5 incident. 

 Machine gunners on hot metal bridge in Warren. Trumbull Cliffs furnace in background. Courtesy of Ohio Memory Connection. 

Machine gunners on hot metal bridge in Warren. Trumbull Cliffs furnace in background. Courtesy of Ohio Memory Connection. 

 Machine gunners on Pine Avenue in Warren. Courtesy of Ohio Memory Connection. 

Machine gunners on Pine Avenue in Warren. Courtesy of Ohio Memory Connection. 

The strikers were not innocent in all of this, at least some of them were waging warfare against the company. I'm not saying this should have given the company a license to kill, but they used it as justification. Photos of sabotage below.

 Derailed box cars on Pine Avenue in Warren. Courtesy of Ohio Memory Connection. 

Derailed box cars on Pine Avenue in Warren. Courtesy of Ohio Memory Connection. 

 Pennsylvania Rail Road cars with hoppers opened up. Looks like they were hauling in limestone for the Blast Fce. Courtesy of Ohio Memory Connection. 

Pennsylvania Rail Road cars with hoppers opened up. Looks like they were hauling in limestone for the Blast Fce. Courtesy of Ohio Memory Connection. 

There was so much tension at the Republic mills becuase they refused to close them, and still had employees working inside that didn't support the union. See below for telegraphs that were sent to holdouts in the Warren works.

 Courtesy of Ohio Memory Connection. 

Courtesy of Ohio Memory Connection. 

 Courtesy of Ohio Memory Connection. 

Courtesy of Ohio Memory Connection. 

Segregated religious services were held for the holdouts in the mills, who were forced to live in the plants for fear of reprisal as they left the gates. 

 Employee housing near the stainless mill. Courtesy of Ohio Memory Connection. 

Employee housing near the stainless mill. Courtesy of Ohio Memory Connection. 

 Courtesy of Ohio Memory Connection. 

Courtesy of Ohio Memory Connection. 

 Courtesy of Ohio Memory Connection. 

Courtesy of Ohio Memory Connection. 

Images below show how strong the tensions were between both sides. The holdouts in the mill hung an effigy of a CIO striker at the No. 1 hot strip mill, the strikers prepared a gate ramming car to breach the line.

 Courtesy of Ohio Memory Connection. 

Courtesy of Ohio Memory Connection. 

 Courtesy of Ohio Memory Connection. 

Courtesy of Ohio Memory Connection. 

All of this fighting and bloodshed was all for naught. The union still was unable to organize, and after the murders at Stop 5 the National Guard was deployed and put the strike down for good. The union may have gained some ground, but 80 years later these mills are either demolished, in the process of being demo'd, or sitting there rusting. The photo below was taken days after the killings in Youngstown. They repealed the beer ban that was in place during the strike, and it was back to business as usual. 

 Courtesy of Ohio Memory Connection. 

Courtesy of Ohio Memory Connection. 

 Courtesy of Ohio Memory Connection. 

Courtesy of Ohio Memory Connection. 

Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co.

Youngstown, O. - Photos of "Americanization Classes" at a community hall owned and operated by the Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. There is not a date or location called out, but I am guessing this was from the early 1900's and located somewhere along Wilson Avenue. The location is a guess, but an educated one, based on the tin ceilings shown in the photos that are similar to one's I have seen at buildings down there that sat across from the Campbell works. I'm assuming this would have been located near the mill so the employees could walk to it. 

In the full size version of the image above, you can make out the lettering on the window, that states "Free Night School and Reading Room For Foreign Speaking Men and Women - Community Hall - Reading Writing Spelling". Sheet & Tube didn't have a problem hiring immigrants, or segregating them by department, but you better get your ass assimilated pronto. This may have been in response to the riots during the steel strike in 1919, when the company decided to do more for the employees to ensure that East Youngstown (later renamed Campbell for the president of the company) was not burned again. 

I've seen the framed photos on the wall before, I'm pretty sure some images from this series hang in my Westside breakfast spot The Donut Oven, I mean Landmark. 

The William B. Pollock Co.

Youngstown, O. - A ladle ready to ship out from the William B. Pollock Co. in the 1970s, destined for the Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co.'s Indiana Harbor works. Although Pollock and Sheet & Tube are out of business, the Indiana Harbor mill still makes steel, operated by Arcelor Mittal. 

Republic Steel Corp. - Little Steel Strike

Warren, O. - As the Little Steel Strike heated up, many Republic Steel Corp. mills closed due to the pickets, but others remained operating with a skeleton crew of employees loyal to the company. The Warren works was one of these mills. The pickets were preventing food and supplies from being brought into the mills for the (scabs) men that stayed on, so the company improvised. 

Republic management initially used one biplane to drop supplies into the Niles mill. After a few failed attempts where the packages fell outside of the gates and were taken by pickets, they were eventually successful. Republic's president bought four more planes that day, and the fleet evenutally numbered 9 planes. A makeshift airfield was set up at the Warren works. 

It didn't take long for the strikers to realize the flights were effective. The planes launched from a secret airfield, and were reported to have altered their identification numbers. The strikers took matters into their own hands, and started hunting for the airfield and allegedly attempting to shoot down the planes as they flew into the mill. This was war, right in the middle of the Steel Valley. See the Vindicator headlines from 80 years ago today below. 

6/1/1937

6/2/1937 -  This plane was rumored to have been shot down.

5/31/1937

Even with the supposed anti-aircraft fire, the airdrops kept the mills running. The illustration on the envelope sent to the Trumbull Cliff Furnace (Republic Warren works) seems to indicate the S.W.O.C/C.I.O. was losing the battle, judging by the plane and the smoke still coming from the stacks. 

Press photos below, coutesy of the Ohio Memory Collection, that show the airfield at Warren and the urgency they unloaded the planes with. They say the men on the ground were under fire as well. 

The strike continued to rage on, and would evenutally escalate to more bloodshed and the loss of life on the steelworker's side at a Republic mill in Youngstown. More to come on that, don't change that dial.

Memorial Day Massacre

Chicago, IL. - Today marks the 80th anniversary of the Memorial Day Massacre, the day that the Chicago Police Department killed 10 men attempting to picket the gates of Republic Steel's south Chicago plant. 

This was part of the Little Steel Strike, the effort of the Steel Workers Organizing Committee to organize the mills of Republic Steel, Youngstown Sheet and Tube and Inland Steel among others. Basically the major steel producers that were smaller than US Steel, who had recently signed a contract with the S.W.O.C.. Although this particular slaughter happened in Chicago, this same strike was effecting Youngstown, Warren, and Niles Ohio as well as other cities in the state. See the headline from the Youngstown Vindicator below, which was published on that same Memorial Day. I will talk more about the use of aircraft in the Youngstown area during this strike in a coming post, but you should know that this was war, on the ground, in the air, and also through the use of propaganda. 

5/30/1937

There were a total of 8 strikers permitted in front of Republic's main gate. On Memorial Day there was a rally near by the mill with hundreds of steel workers and others in attendance. A decision was made to march on the gates at Republic, and once they arrived all hell broke loose. 

There are some very different theories for why this slaughter took place. Some say there were communist agitators placed in these mills to incite the strike/violence, some say the companies and police were out to crush the strike with no concern for the spilled blood of a few steelworkers. I am reading the autobiography of the man who was the head of Republic at that time for perspective, but it seems very pro company. Almost biased hah. At the same time, so do the socialist websites that tell the story from the other side. I'm sure the truth is somewhere in the middle.

Chicago Tribune - 1937

Either way, this event happened. 10 men killed in the street. Kids were shot. Men were shot in the back. No cops were shot. Some policemen were injured, I'll give them that, but shit. Shoot to kill! This wasn't even 100 years ago! 

A picture is worth a thousand words, so I'll stop talking now. Scroll past the images for a two part newsreel from the time that shows some of the riot. Please watch the video. The actual start of the shooting is blatantly missing. They say Paramount Pictures had a cameraman there that filmed the police opening fire with no warning, but the video was suppressed because it was may have caused widespread rioting. Or support for the union. Who knows. 

Click the following links for Part 1 and Part 2 of the newsreel footage regarding the massacre. 

Youngstown Car Manufacturing Co.

Youngstown, O. - This is a company you don't hear much about. Youngstown Car Mfg Co. manufactured the carts shown in this advertisement. With the amount of money run of the mill industrial carts go for today you would be sitting on a fortune if you had one of these to sell. I'd buy it. 

Below is a photo of their plant on Wilson Avenue, with Republic Steel's number 2, 3, and 4 blast furnaces in the background. This was part of the William Pollock Co. collection on Ohio Memory, so I assume they built the furnaces. The Youngstown Car Manufacturing Co. plant still stands today, and is now used by Industrial Mill Maintenance. 

I was working for an HVAC company in the early 2000s, and was on the roof of the church that sits across the street. I forget the name of the church but it was between Gladstone and Jackson Street . The maintenance man was telling me he went to school there as a kid, and remembered not being able to see across to Poland Ave. because of all the smoke from Republic. I remember trying to imagine what that scene looked like. Imagine no more, this would have been the exact same view I saw 80 years later when the furnaces were gone. 

Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co.

Youngstown, O. - *Edit* Although the photo was marked "Hot saws in YS&T blooming mill", I am told by multiple former employees of Sheet & Tube as well as the Director of the Youngstown Steel Heritage Foundation that this was the billet mill at the Campbell works. What a photo!!!!!!!!!!!!

Republic Steel Corp.

Youngstown, O. - We are coming up on the 100 year anniversary of the date this beautiful photograph was taken - 7/31/1917. This is a now demolished blast furnace at Republic Steel, in the Hazelton area. Think Poland Ave. and Center Street.

I was wandering around down there and found a brick marked Niles No. 1. Niles Firebrick was a manufacturer of refractory brick, so that piece of masonry I carried home may well have been used to line this furnace.

I wonder if this was taken by a company photographer or who? They made a gorgeous large format film photo I know that. Damn I was born 100 years too late. Wish that would have been me getting paid to take this. 

Photo courtesy of Ohio Memory collection. 

Location/Company Unknown

These photos appears to be from the early 1900's, judging by the use of steam power on the job site. These were sent in by Dave H., who's grandfather took these photos. He was born in Hillsville, PA, in 1895 and lived in Lowellville later in life, working in the mills until a fall broke both of his legs. I am told that he had a passion for photography, and shot and developed many photos of steel mill construction. I am looking for any input as to what mill is featured in these photos. It is possible that this is Youngstown Sheet & Tube Campell works or Sharon Steel Lowellville works. Lil help?

The William B. Pollock Co.

Youngstown, O. - This image from the early 1900s shows an employee of the William B. Pollock Co. posing with a new hot metal handling rail car that looks ready to ship. These cars were designed/engineered/built in Youngstown. Hopefully the man next to the car gives you an idea of the scale, and the amount of molten iron each of these cars moved around the mills.

Image courtesy of Ohio History Connection

Republic Steel Corp.

Youngstown, O. - Dated 1941, this photo shows the men that worked the "skull cracker" yard at Republic Steel. Skull cracking was the process of dropping essentially a wrecking ball on steel that had solidified in a ladle, and needed to be reclaimed. 

Photo courtesy of Ohio Memory Collection

Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co.

Youngstown, O. This photo, dated 1910, does not list a location but shows steelworkers at Youngstown Sheet & Tube tapping a blast furnace long before the days of aluminized silver suits. 

Photo courtesy of Ohio History Connection

Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co.

Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. open hearth stacks. No location provided. The photo is marked 1977, but no information beyond that available. Not sure of the historical value of this photo, besides the fact it may have been taken the year they started the shutdowns, but I found it aesthetically pleasing. I wish I took this photo, or was born early enough to have had the chance. 

Image courtesy of Ohio History Connection