The Rust Jungle

Youngstown Steel Door

Austintown, O. - Founded in 1924, Youngstown Steel Door was primarily known as a builder of boxcar doors and rail car sides. Prior to it's closing in the 2000s, Steel Door converted to a war time manufacturer in the 40s that employed quite a few females according to the photos available on the Ohio Memory collection website.  Rosie the Steelworker built external fuel tanks for some of the most legendary fighter planes of the Second World War. See below for a sampling of those, as well as a photo of their outgoing products from the mid 50s courtesy of Bob Abbatto. Stay tuned for a full post featuring some of the photos Bob took in Youngstown, specifically the West Side, during the industrial heyday of the Valley.

 

 

Details on the fuel tanks built at Steel Door.

Fabricating the tanks featured above.

Below: Steel doors shipping out from Youngstown Steel Door in the mid 50s, on what was then the Erie RR. When I was a kid this line, which ran near my house, was the Youngstown and Austintown RR aka my playground.

Youngstown Sheet and Tube Campbell Works

Campbell, O. - The boys in the Open Hearth department receiving their award for 1,000,000 man hours without a major injury.

My pops made his living, until shortly after Black Monday, hauling hot slag out of the Open Hearth in Campbell. I wonder if he knew these guys. He drove a slag truck for Industrial Mill Service until they shut down the Campbell works. He was working night turn, and after his last shift running to the slag dump he and his coworkers went for a drink to drown their sorrows. He said they went to a "social club" in Struthers called Saint Anthony's that served liquor at 7am on a Sunday, which I'm assuming was against Ohio liquor laws haha. 

A story he told me when I was younger still sticks with me. Apparently a ladle accidentally spilled hot metal on the floor in the mill, and they needed to get it cleaned up in a hurry. They loaded the molten metal into the open top dump trucks they used to haul the slag. It was so hot that the sides of the trailer were glowing red. The Christmas decorations were up in downtown Strudders, you know the wreaths and what not they hang from the streetlights. The decorations were melting off of the poles when he stopped under them, and the people walking down the street were taking cover from the heat radiating from the trailer. 

Ghost Signs

Steel Valley, O. - I was in Youngstown a couple weekends back, and went ghost sign hunting. Found some gems I want people to see so here you go.

 

Youngstown, O. - The William B. Pollock Company.

Never thought I would find something this historically significant. I came across this on accident, was down the bottom of Himrod Avenue looking for this company, but was looking at the wrong building. Gave up and went next door to photgraph the old 10/90 warehouse (a dress factory converted to a semi legal skate park in the 90s), looked up and saw something painted on the wall of the building across the street. Sure and begorrah it was the logo for the William B. Pollock Co. You can barely make out the logo on the wall, but check out the Pollock ad below and compare the two. Founded in 1863, this company built America. They engineered and built blast furnaces and hot metal cars. This plant right at the end of Federal St. had a hand in revolutionizing the steel industry. They were responsible for engineering and building the Trumbull Cliffs furnace, which I believe at that time was the largest blast furnace in the world. This furnace was owned by Republic Steel, WCI Steel, Severstal and RG Steel. She is the last blast furnace in the Steel Valley, and is in the midst of demolition. 

Girard, O. - Youngstown Sheet and Tube Brier Hill Works. 

This is a two for one bonus. Behind the fading "Syro Steel Brier Hill Div" ghost sign, you can see the yellow and black sign they painted over peeking through. The original sign proudly read "Youngstown Sheet and Tube Company". I know this because there was an identical Sheet and Tube sign on the side of the Struthers works that faced the river/Wilson Ave. That building is gone, but I photographed it 15 years ago or so, see bottom photo (old photo, excuse poor quality). If you zoom in on the current photo, you will see the "Syro Steel Entrance" sign on the sloped building that is dwarfed by that roof vent that is sitting on the ground. This was an underground entrance into the mill, and man I want to go down there.  

Niles, O. - Republic Steel 

I took this photo just over 10 years ago. I went back recently to photograph it again with a better camera, only to find they painted it over. Glad I got this when I did.

Youngstown, O. - The Snyder-Bentley Co.

I don't know much about this company, except they are located across the street from what was Carnegie Steel's Upper Union Mills. The were an industrial distributor of some sort formed in the 20's, and they have a cool looking sign.

Youngstown, O.- Brier Hill Slag Co.

This isn't a ghost sign in the traditional sense I suppose, but it's gone so it applies to me. Damn I wish I would have preserved this thing. This sat in front of what was Sheet and Tube Brier Hill works. I took this as they were tearing down the YST office building in the background. I think Youngstown Steel Heritage ( http://www.todengine.org/ ) has the engraved stone sign that was at the top of the building that read "Youngstown Sheet and Tube Company".

Warren, O. - Copperweld Steel Co. 

This isn't a ghost sign either, but my grandpa worked here 33 years so you're going to have to deal with looking at it. Did you know during WWII Copperweld rolled and stretched uranium for the war effort? My grandpa was away fighting ze Germans, but when he came home he worked a rolling mill out there. Wonder if it was one that rolled the radioactive material for the Manhattan Project.

Shenango China, Inc.

New Castle, PA - Having lived in New Castle for a time, I drove past this place often on my way back to Youngstown. You can't see much from 224, but behind the trees sits a 100+ year old factory that looks like it was carpet bombed. This place has a fascinating history, and played a huge part in the employment and lives of the people of New Castle. I could post photos of the sections that look like they were shelled, but I'll leave you with some documentation of the things left behind, some company history, and an emotional statement from one of the employees a few months prior to the factory closing for good. See below.. BUT FIRST, this photo of a china coffee cup. Nothing too exciting right? I noticed it was marked "Mayer China, Beaver Falls PA" so I ask myself what is pottery from Beaver Falls doing in New Castle? It dawned on me when I first got a real camera, I took a trip to a china factory in Beaver Falls, which was demolished shortly thereafter. Turns out I was at Mayer China's original factory. The company was bought out by Shenango, and in the 90's they closed Mayer and transferred the production to New Castle. I will post the images from the trip to Beaver Falls in the future. 

 

The New Castle News of May 8, 1991, printed a passionate editorial from Shenango China employee Patti Ryan that read in part, “As the first wave of permanent layoffs took place April 12, myself included, I’d like to share a few thoughts with my fellow Shenango China employees and people of this community. For all of the “Rah-Rah Shenango China” people who had tremendous pride in their work, it was more than just a job. It was a group of people who grew closer through good and bad times. For those who never felt that sense of pride, it is difficult to put into words. Those of us who have, need no further explanation. Upon visiting Washington, D.C., this past summer, I proudly showed my 8-year-old daughter the Castleton China display in the White House. It was obvious to me that she also understood the pride. It wasn’t necessary to have worked there to felt it. This community will feel the economic impact of this plant closing, along with a sense of loss… Now, the Shenango logo which, to me, always symbolized the pride, is being taken to New York. To put it bluntly, after the corporate rape, our Shenango Indian is being dragged to Syracuse. As consumers, I hope the area people will remember this when making purchases, because the Pfaltzgraff Corp. and its stooges at Syracuse China have done the good and loyal people of this community and Shenango China a great injustice.”

http://www.lawrencecountymemoirs.com/lcmpages/896/shenango-china-company-new-castle-pa

 

"During the late 30’s, Mr. Smith became convinced that America would soon be in the war. He began building three bisque 70′ tunnel kilns and one 105′ kiln. Delayed steel shipment caused the kilns to be raised under circus tents. Wartime created many difficulties. Young skilled workers went off to war. Many employees went to work in defense industries, which paid higher wages.

Although government contracts made up over 50 percent of all production, critical materials forced substitutes. Due to this hardship, more creative methods of decorating, mixing color and packing were devised. In addition, during the war CIO-USWA won the right to represent the workers. With the end of the World War II, it became apparent that a balanced expansion would have to be achieved. The government ware made during the ware was one fire, plain white ware or with little decoration. In the post-war economy there would by a large demand for dinnerware and overglaze hotelware. A building plan was initiated in 1945 and completed in 1947. The addition contained 150,000 square feet for decoration and a 60,000 square foot building with a 200′ tunnel kiln was built for a new refractories division.

During the war, they also made the ceramic parts for land mines. A group of local businessmen including officers of Shenango formed a company for this express purpose. Later this led to a minority stockholder suit, which occupied the officers and directors for a ten-year period."

 http://www.lawrencechs.com/museum/collections/shenango-china-collection/

 

Mackenzie Muffler/Austintown Tool and Die

Austintown, O. - *Update 12/1/2016* When I originally posted this in 2011, all I knew about this place was that my cousin applied for a job here, but was never hired.  There is far more history here than I knew years ago when I saw they were tearing it down, threw on my hard hat on a Sunday and set out to document it.

A recent post about wartime production at a neighboring plant  http://www.therustjungle.com/rustjungle/2016/11/29/youngstown-steel-door , initialed a discussion on this plant, which was located right across Hendricks Rd. Mackenzie Muffler was a division of Buffalo Pressed Steel, who manufactured mufflers for International Harvester tractors and automobiles for the Big 3. During WWII, Mackenzie also produced fuel tanks, much like their neighbors at Steel Door. Perhaps they worked in conjunction, hopefully someone can shed some light on that. According to the article below they went from 150 employees in 1938 to 3,000 during the war, many of them women.  A family friend of ours' mother worked here during the war as a press operator. 

Below are the images from my original post, taken during the demolition of this plant. There was a decent amount of equipment left here that they were cutting apart. Presses, shears, cranes etc. Stickers on one of the employee lockers reference Youngstown Steel Door day, and USWA local 2310 which represented Steel Door and possibly Austintown Tool and Die, not sure about that.

tumblr_llgdc61Ler1qfcoqdo1_1280.jpg
tumblr_llgdc61Ler1qfcoqdo2_1280.jpg
tumblr_llgdc61Ler1qfcoqdo3_1280.jpg
tumblr_llgdc61Ler1qfcoqdo5_1280.jpg
tumblr_llgdc61Ler1qfcoqdo6_1280.jpg
tumblr_llgdc61Ler1qfcoqdo7_1280.jpg
tumblr_llgdc61Ler1qfcoqdo8_1280.jpg