deindustrialization

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.

Republic Steel Warren Works - Flyover

Warren, O. 

A sample of the drone footage I commissioned upon hearing of the approved demolition permit for the last blast furnace in the valley. 

I want people to see what an integrated steel mill looked like before they are all scrapped. Unfortunately the basic oxygen furnace side of the mill (where they turned the iron into steel, and then processed it) was already in a scrap heap somewhere at this time. If you look in the background, you see the coke plant, where coal was (and still is) baked into coke. At one time, both plants were part of Republic Steel. They brought raw materials (coal, iron ore, limestone) in one end, and processed steel came out the other. 

Every time I watch this video I think of the "Little Steel Strike" of 1937, when Republic had thousands of scabs that stayed in the mill, who had no food and basic essentials. The decision was made to airdrop supplies to them. They say the strikers tried to shoot down the planes that landed next to the rail yard in this very mill. I don't think anything was ever proven though. Here is an interesting quote from a pilot during the strike, and a link to the Smithsonian article below.

"Pilot Frank Groat, an electrician and part-time pilot hired by Republic, remembered volleys of gunfire as he eased his Waco toward the airstrip. “Every now and then you could hear the bullets whizzing by you as you flew into the mill,” he recalled from his home in Florida. “We never shut off the engines when we came in. We landed, men came out to unload the planes, and we took off. In Niles they used a big net to catch the supplies when we flew over. On those flights we took a second man along, a ‘bomber,’ we called him. He threw the supplies out through the door.”


 http://www.airspacemag.com/history-of-flight/oldies-amp-oddities-the-little-steel-strike-airlift-41977502/?no-ist=&page=1

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/

 

P&LE Gateway Yard

Youngstown, OH. Today is the 50th anniversary of a milestone for the now defunct Pittsburgh and Lake Erie Railroad. Per the Youngstown Vindicator, "Railroad officials gather at the Gateway Yard in Youngstown for the "humping" of the 5 millionth car (enough to circle the earth). Humping is the act of shoving a line of freight cars over a hill onto multiple tracks, to be divided into a new train. 

The P&LE got it's nickname, The Little Giant, because they moved so much tonnage in relation to the amount of track they controlled. While they did offer passenger service, they primarily moved steel, and the ingredients to make it in its raw form: coal, limestone and iron ore. 

I have photographed what is left of the Gateway Yard many times, but on an occasion such as this anniversary, I wanted to show it in it's prime, not the post industrial wasteland I know it as. Check out the video below from YouTube user Erie1264.

 

 

New Castle Refractories Co.

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New Castle Refractories - New Castle, PA

 

I photographed this 105 year old firebrick factory on Industrial Street about a month before they knocked it down. I didn't know it was slated for demo, just how it worked out. There was quite a bit left behind in the office, some interesting reports and employee data. The production floors were gutted, and the kilns were falling in on themselves. The letter they heartlessly tacked to the message board (fig. 4) to let the employees know their livelihood was gone was still there, next to a calendar that stopped in March 09. I have that letter now, it's right next to the one I liberated from Copperweld Steel, where my grandpa worked. 

 

Coincidentally, the company that shuttered and abandoned this plant also bought the refractories arm of Shenango China, which I photographed the same day. I guess there isn't much of a market for firebrick in a valley that no longer makes steel. These are the ripple effects of Black Monday. Trickle down deindustrialization I guess.

 

http://www.ncnewsonline.com/news/industrial-street-venture-rail-crossings-planned/article_402df67c-e642-11e5-a268-e3365e7eb5ad.html

Paramount Theatre

YOUNGSTOWN, OHIO: The projectors at the Paramount theater, which is the big building they are demolishing downtown.  http://www.vindy.com/news/2013/jul/10/curtains-for-paramount-theatre/    I took this the first day I had a real camera, also the first day I ever used one. A dlsr anyways. I have some of the main room and stage but since i didnt know what i was doing they kind of suck. Plus everybody that ever hung out at cedars seems to have taken those same pictures.

YOUNGSTOWN, OHIO: The projectors at the Paramount theater, which is the big building they are demolishing downtown. http://www.vindy.com/news/2013/jul/10/curtains-for-paramount-theatre/  I took this the first day I had a real camera, also the first day I ever used one. A dlsr anyways. I have some of the main room and stage but since i didnt know what i was doing they kind of suck. Plus everybody that ever hung out at cedars seems to have taken those same pictures.

US Steel Ohio Works

YOUNGSTOWN, OHIO: The top photo looks like an old dock on a beach somewhere, but its whats left of conveyor belts (middle row) and the flooded basement left over from tearing down US Steel’s Ohio Works (bottom row). I took these so long ago man, the photos from the roof of the mill have to be at least 5 years old. Actually that was the time me and my cousin Matt got caught by the security guard. The guy was hostile at first because people had been mercilessly scrapping the place, plus he didn't believe that somebody wanted to photograph the ruins before they tore it down. I tell him my whole family was steelworkers, i grew up on Hazelwood and could see the smoke stacks from my house etc etc. It turns out he was some big shot at the mill when it was running, and the head of security after it was abandoned. Guy offered us a tour of the place when he found out i knew his granddaughter, but we didn't take him up on it. That's a big regret of mine. they tore everything down like 6 months later. Don't mind me though I'm just thinking out loud.

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