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.”

New Castle Refractories Co.


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.

Weirton Steel Corporation


Weirton Steel. Weirton WV. These are pretty old, took them while they were tearing down the blooming mill building. I was one of, if not the, last person to photograph the engine that drove the blooming mill (last photo). That TWENTY FIVE THOUSAND HORSEPOWER monster I was standing on was built by the William Tod Company. It was built in the big grey mill building under the Market Street bridge in beautiful Youngstown, Ohio. You know the historic building the downtown gentrifiers want torn down to build a dog park or something. There are 2 Tod engines left in the world, one of them is preserved on Hubbard road if you wanted to see how insanely massive they are.

Paramount Theatre

YOUNGSTOWN, OHIO: The projectors at the Paramount theater, which is the big building they are demolishing downtown.    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.  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.

Truscon Steel Company


Youngstown, O.

Bunch of detail shots from the old Avanti plant on Albert Street they tore down recently. A lot of car parts, signs and the old moulds for the fiberglass car bodies. This was a Republic Steel plant, the Truscon division, where they made steel trusses. The Avanti was a Studebaker they built in the 60s that other companies built when the company folded. The Cafaro’s bought the company, moved the production to the old Republic mill in Youngstown. The whole mill complex is demolished and they make the Avantis in Mexico now.

Weirton Steel


Weirton, West Virginia - Dead 15 and 50 town overhead cranes in the rolling mill engine shop.

I shot this shortly before this building came down; was there to document the Tod Engine that ran this mill. As far as I know then engine still sits in the yard rusting away where the rolling mill shed was. 

Iron City Brewing Co.

Pittsburgh, PA. A can of "Steel Valley Beer" I found in the original Lawrenceville plant, which dated back to the 1860s. They were tearing down parts of the brewery, as Iron City was bought out and being brewed in Latrobe. Even thought we all know where the real Steel Valley is (cough YOUNGSTOWN cough), I like the bust of Joe Magarac on the can. You know, the steelworker's Paul Bunyon.

“Steel Valley Beer” Iron City Beer Brewery. Pittsburgh, PA. 

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 , 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.