US Steel Ohio Works

Youngstown, O. Today marks the the 35th anniversary of not only my first memory as a child, but the end of one hell of an era in Youngstown history. The day the four remaining blast furnaces in Youngstown fell. 

Lookit these damn vultures

I vividly remember the day it happened. If you looked out of our front window, across the street you could see the tops of these monolithic structures peeking up over Jimmy Sebena's roof. Jimmy was awesome. His daughter saved my brother's life. Jimmy told me after they landed at Normandy they confiscated all this French money. Said he won so much in the dice games he came home damn near rich, but it was like Monopoly money over there. He called me Pauley and enjoyed sitting on his front porch and spitting. All night in the summer, between the sounds of the Harleys roaring up Hazelwood and the tube rounds clanging around down the former Sheet & Tube Brier Hill works, you would hear Jimmy hawker. But that's neither here nor there. 

Back to April 28th, 1982. My mom brought me to our picture window, and opened the front door so we could hear the explosion. I remember looking over the roof of the Sebena's and watching "the smokestacks" as I called them start to lean. You felt the house shake, and then you heard the explosion. It blew my young mind that the sound came later. I didn't know much about physics at just shy of 3 years old. I also didn't know much about the steel industry and how the fact they abandoned my hometown would effect the economy and my life in general either, but that would change.

I attended an old timers reunion at the Youngstown Historical Center of Labor and Industry last year, and got to sit down with one of the last US Steel employees in the Steel Valley. Tom was named Project Engineer, and was tasked with selling off the remaining USS properties, and oversaw the demolition of the Ohio Works. The demo company provided him a stack of photos of the demo, which was meant to be used as a flip book. Below is a video of him flipping through the shots at that event. 

Tom was nice enough to give me a copy of a transcript of a speech he had recently given, which details the fate of every damn US Steel property in the Valley. Definitly worth a read if you're into that subject. Which I sure as hell am. 

US Steel Ohio Works

Youngstown, O. -This photo is dated 1947, I am guessing this was a rebuild of the #4 blast furnace. This photo features questionable safety practices and a nice birds eye view of the Youngstown Sheet & Tube Brier Hill works in the background. The caption reads "Sledging shrink link into place on top ring casting at US Steel Ohio Works Youngstown Ohio"

Photo courtesy of the Ohio Memory Project. 

US Steel Ohio Works

Youngstown, O. - My cousin Chris was telling me about this tunnel on the West Side that went under Midwest Steel & Alloy from Salt Springs so we decided to check it out. When I went to his house in the Steelton neighborhood he crawled out the coal chute to greet me. Photos below. We walked down to the mouth of the tunnel with my new $600 camera and started into the tunnel. At first the water was ankle or knee deep but towards the end it was up to our nipples.

Before the company above was Midwest Steel it was Carnegie Illinois Steel's skull cracker yard. I wonder if this tunnel was built by ol Andy Carnegie; it certainly looked like old enough construction to be the case. 

At the other end of the tunnel was the Mahoning River, where we skipped rocks with the former Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co.'s Brier Hill works in the background. We then climbed up the steep bank to check out the long abandoned pump house that was on the scrapyard's property. I can't seem to find those photos but it was very interesting also, take my word for it. We walked down to Cherol's market from there, like so many USS employees before us, bought a couple Stewart's lime pops and officially called the start of summer.