Historic Structures

Youngstown Works History Republic Iron and Steel Company Youngstown Works, Ohio

From its formation. Republic Iron and Steel placed special emphasis on the Mahoning Valley, and Youngstown in particular, as its production center. The 1899 consolidation included the Youngstown facilities of Brown-Bonnell (total capacity of 100,000 tons of finished iron), the Andrew Brothers Company, and the Mahoning Valley Iron Company. With these companies came rolling mills, a Bessemer converter, and both the Haselton and Hannah blast furnace plants. Brown-Bonnell became the primary site in Republic's Youngstown operation with the decision to consolidate steelmaking there with the construction of a Bessemer plant in 1900. Machinery from two other Republic facilities, the Union Steel Company of Alexandria, Indiana, and the Springfield Iron Company of Springfield, Illinois was moved to Brown-Bonnell. Two Bessemer converters from Union would provide the base of the new plant, although over seventy percent of the plant would involve new construction. As William Hogan observed, "This installation made Republic a much more integrated company and enabled it to assume a more independent position in the industry because it was able to supply more steel to its own mills."

J.A. Campbell, district manager of S.V. Huber & Co. of Pittsburgh, was put in charge of construction, under the direction of Samuel McDonald, the superintendent of the new facility (and former assistant superintendent of the Ohio Steel Company). The Bessemer plant was laid out in a linear pattern, parallel to the Mahoning river between Crab Creek and South Avenue. Since neither the Haselton nor Hannah blast furnace plants could supply the converters directly, a cupola house, with four, twenty-four foot cupolas was constructed for the plant. Fitted with a mechanized material loading system designed by the Crain Elevator Company, the cupola house remelted iron for use in the converters. An electric powered hydraulic ladle transferred molten iron from the cupolas to an iron runner which fed the converters directly. The converter building included two five-ton eccentric converters set back-to-back and blowing in opposite directions. A casting platform ran the length of the building, equipped with a hydraulic pusher that moved ingot molds and transfer cars.

From the casting floor, ingots were transferred to the pit furnace building where they were reheated in furnaces built by Alex Laughlin & Company of Pittsburgh. Cranes, equipped with automatic tongs, manipulated the ingots in and out of the pits. After reaching workable temperature, the ingots were transferred^ to the 32" blooming mill capable of rolling slabs and 4" billets. A 45' X 235' steel framed boiler house, and 55' X 110' brick power house provided the energy for the facility. Three vertical Southwark Foundry engines, including a 30" steam cylinder, 48" air cylinder, and 48" stroke, furnished the blast for the converters. Cranes and motors were powered by a horizontal tandem compound Buckeye engine, connected to a 150 kw. General Electric generator. A bottom house (primarily a maintenance facility for the repair and drying of converter bottoms), and machine shop rounded out the Bessemer plant.

In 1902, the Bessemer plant was rebuilt with two, ten-ton converters, a 40" blooming mill, a 26" and 18" billet mill, and two additional cupolas.19 Another blowing engine was installed by the Allis-Chambers Company with a 46" and 88" X 60" steam cylinders, a 76" air cylinder, and a 60" stroke. The billet mill, which received steel directly from the blooming mill, was comprised of three separate mills: a 2 6" semi-continuous mill capable of transforming blooms into 3" or 4" billets; a continuous billet mill capable of transforming 3" billets into 1.5", 1.75", 2", or 2.25" billets; and a tandem mill that could make flat bars from blooming mill slabs. Both the 26" mill and tandem mill were driven by a tandem compound engine built by the William Tod Company of Youngstown. The continuous billet mill, however, was powered by a cross-compound engine designed by Filer & Stowell company of Milwaukee. Each mill had an inline shearing table with cooling bed, billet conveyer, and scrap conveyor.

The movement to diversify its product base was furthered in October of 1904, when stockholders authorized the construction of a rail mill at the Youngstown Works. Interestingly, the first rails were rolled on April 22, 1905. This remarkable turnaround was due to considerable construction on the foundation and machinery during the winter. Limited space necessitated a unique layout to the facility that contemporary trade journals considered a marked departure from previous methods. The basis of the new design was the use of three parallel roll tables connected with two transfer tables capable of covering an extended distance with less space. The total daily capacity was said to be 1,800 tons of rails, depending on whether or not billets were also being rolled. The new rail mill was designed by Republic's engineering department, under the direction of H.A. Bixler, and the United Engineering & Foundry Company of Pittsburgh.

The Haselton blast furnace plant was first acquired by Republic in 1899. It consisted of one furnace that was rebuilt by the company and put on-line to supply the new Bessemer plant. The facility was approximately .5 miles east of the steel works, on the north side of the Mahoning river. On July 2, 1905, ground was broken for a new furnace, but the decision to build a third necessitated a reconfiguration of plans to coordinate operations. Furnace number two and three were to increase monthly capacity for pig iron by 55,000 tons. A unique design decision was made to construct one hand-filled furnace and another skip hoist filled furnace side by side. The plant was designed under the direction of Youngstown engineer J.W. Deetrick, and equipment was supplied by William B. Pollock & Company of Youngstown and the McClintie-Marshall Construction Company of Pittsburgh.

Furnace number two was a hand-filled type, with vertical hoist system and gravity charged bins designed to alleviate much of the labor involved. The bosh diameter of the furnace was 19' 6" and it stood 85' high. Furnace number three, on the other hand, was equipped with a Brown Hoist top. According to The Iron Trade Review, the skip hoist included a "parabolic bin system with a single suspended larry charging car." To operate the system a larryman, a skip operator, and a general laborer were needed. The bosh of the furnace was 20' 6", and the height was also 85". Each furnace was supplied by four Kennedy stoves (of the center combustion type) 22' in diameter and 97' 10" high. Each group of four included a self supporting stack for waste gas 180' high and 8' 9" in diameter. To insure against down time, the plant included duplicate air, water, and steam lines. Piping was also arranged so that blowing engines could feed either furnace. The furnaces and stoves were constructed on a concrete and fire brick foundation with pilings between 35' and 70' into the ground. The blowing house consisted of five Allis-Chambers engines, three high pressure vertical engines 52" and 96" X 60", and two low pressure vertical engines 96" X 60".

The stock house and yard was located just north of the furnaces, surrounded by a concrete wall. With a 350,000 ton capacity, the yard was serviced by an electric double track steel bin system extending over the length of the yard, and a Brown Hoist ore bridge with seven-ton bucket. The plant has direct access to numerous rail lines, including the Lake Shore & Michigan Southern, the Pittsburgh & Lake Erie, the Erie, the Pennsylvania, and the Baltimore & Ohio. In 1906, a 2.5 mile hot metal railway, with twenty-five ton P-T. Berg hot metal cars, was built from the Haselton furnaces to the converter plant. This railway fed a new 250-ton capacity mixer on the site of the converters. Remarking on this innovation the 1906 annual report notes, "These improvements will greatly facilitate the operation of your blast furnace, and add materially to the output of your steel works, and should reflect lower costs in the operation of both the blast furnaces and steel works."

1911 was a major year for the Youngstown facilities of Republic Iron and Steel. In that year, Republic moved its general headquarters from Pittsburgh to Youngstown, and initiated major expansion to its Haselton blast furnace plant. There was also a new union between the community and the company. In return for the city abandoning a section of the city adjacent to the plant for future mill expansion, Republic constructed the Center Street viaduct.

The expansion of the Haselton plant included eight open hearth furnaces, a 40" blooming mill, a continuous billet mill, a sheet bar mill, and a 500-ton blast furnace (Number five). The construction of the open hearth plant marked a departure for the Haselton facility since it previously produced only iron. The eight furnaces, rated between 60 and 80 tons, were of an "unusually heavy construction," according to The Iron Age. Eighty ton ladles, handled by a 125-ton crain served the plant which had an open working environment. The open hearth building had a wide charging floor, high ceilings, good lighting, and accessible escape platforms to provide a comfortable and secure workspace. The furnaces were elevated, and mains from the gas producers were connected overhead because of the treat of flooding (A 1913 flood resulted in $400,000 in damage to the Youngstown Works).

The 40" blooming mill included a Wellman-Kennedy slab manipulator on each side of the rolls powered by 44" and 76" X 60" stroke, horizontal tandem reversing engines. The mill was capable of producing 4" billets, blooms of all sizes, and 34" slabs, and was connected to the continuous mill by a chain conveyer. The continuous mill included four stands of 21" rolls capable of making a 3 7/8" billet, and six stands of 18" rolls able to make billets between 1 3/4" and 3", and sheet bars 8" wide of varying thickness. Republic made every effort to make the plant as self-contained as possible, with the addition" of a laboratory, machine shop, boiler, and blacksmith shop into the design. The plant, moreover, was designed by Republics's engineering department with no outside contractors. In 1913, a battery of 68 Koppers by-product coke ovens with a 340,000 ton annual capacity, which was doubled in 1915 with an additional 68 ovens. Furthermore, the blast furnaces were overhauled, increasing their capacity from 400 to 600 tons daily. An additional open hearth furnace with a 100 ton capacity was also added.