CAPTIONS FOR THE U.S. BLAST FURNACE PLATES
IN BECHERS' BLAST FURNACES
For Blast Furnace Enthusiasts and Modelers
Photography by Bernd & Hilla Becher
January 1, 2000
Text and Technical Data by Mike Rabbitt and John Teichmoeller
First Person and Editorial Commentary by John Teichmoeller
When Blast Furnaces was published in 1990, many of us choked and forked over the money for it simply because the images were so dramatic. (My copy was a birthday present from my mother, and I even was able to get it at a nice discount.) Unfortunately, this is a photo book and has no technical data on the actual blast furnaces illustrated. Moreover, because this is an "art" book, the artists--who have done other books similar to this (one on water towers, another on gas holders, a more recent one--favorably reviewed in IA by none other than Jet Lowe, etc.) do not want to reveal the mysteries of their art and don't even give us a technical appendix containing some of the details of their processes. I wrote a review of this book which appeared in the Fall, 1991 Lineside. This review broke down the number and type of images. My recommendation was that the hard core steel modeler would have to have a copy of this book, but I offered a quiet hope that maybe there was a German version of the book with more text. I have subsequently learned that there was indeed not only an German but also a French edition of the book; unfortunately, neither had any more descriptive text than the English edition.
I had an opportunity to share a luncheon table a few years ago with Jet Lowe, the chap who takes those marvelous, breathtaking HAER photographs (like looking back from the end of the boom of the now-demolished shipyard hammerhead crane several hundred feet above the concrete at the Philadelphia Navy Yard) and was curious as to whether he knew the Bechers as professional colleagues and or knew of a more thoroughly documented version of the book.. The answer was "no" to both questions. so I can't even share an anecdote about the Bechers with you.
Nevertheless, it occurred to Mike and me that a productive exercise would be to record what we can tell about the images of the U.S. blast furnaces pictured. Now that the Walthers steel project is available, this information will become more and more useful, especially as fewer and few blast furnaces remain. Just the multiplicity of top, stove and cast house treatments can allow the modeler infinite possibilities with the Walthers kit. If you were not wise enough to invest in the book when it came out, you may have some work ahead of you, but still it will probably be easier than getting data on nonexistent blast furnaces. Copies of the book may probably be obtained in the "secondary market," through rare book sellers (e.g. Second Story Books in Rockville, MD) and at better stocked libraries. (One correspondent offered to send me photocopies of copies he had made from a library volume he had located --I thanked him but reminded him I had done the review and have a copy. )
The images in this tabulation are listed and described in the order of the first occurrence of each location in the book. However, we have then grouped all the location images together. Thus, for example, all the Youngstown images are grouped together. In all cases we will reference each image by plate number in the book. Moreover, we have rearranged the images somewhat. Toward the end of the book, some overall site images appear; accordingly, where these are available, we have used these to lead off the site image group. Within each location, we have further rearranged the images to use successively closer views of the furnaces. It was not possible to positively identify all the sites simply because we don't know it all, at least yet. Finally, after transcribing and editing we were able to juxtapose images which we felt were of different views of the same furnace. Hence the resulting order of images is not necessarily in the same order as that in the book. Many thanks to the recipients who have taken the time to offer corrections and improved interpretations to the images. This is exactly what we hoped would take place, and there is more that could be done.
Another aside and wishful thought--back in 1982 at the SIA meet in Harrisburg I met an artist named Claus Grutzka. Mr. Grutzka gave a paper entitled "The Vanishing Blast Furnace." He spoke of the history of the blast furnace in Pennsylvania, its change, historical eras. His perspective was the blast furnaces as art. I believe he claimed to have painted most or at least quite a few of the blast furnaces standing in the US or at least Pennsylvania since coming to the U.S. from Silesia in 1961. His presentation I believe showed some slides but few if any samples of his work. His handout was a meaningless sheet of paper. He did not mention where or when his work had been exhibited or cataloged. Most of it is in the collections of private clients (industrial magnates, undoubtedly.) He appeared to be in his early 60s at the time so he may not still be alive. I don't claim to be terribly well connected in this field, but I have never heard of or seen any citation of his works since then in any of my readings including the publications of the Society of Industrial Archaeology. If anyone is aware of an illustrated catalog of this body of work, I would be interested to know more.
As another aside, collections of the Bechers' photographs from time to time, as with David Plowden's appear in fine arts exhibitions. For example, just a couple weeks before our first RRISIG meet in Pittsburgh in 1994, such an exhibit was mounted at the Grimaldis Gallery in downtown Baltimore. I enjoyed viewing the photos but didn't have enough money in my checkbook to purchase any of the prints.
If we may be permitted an editorial comment: After going through these photos it was quite interesting that these furnaces typically represented far from the cutting edge technology. At the time of their demolition there was invariably hand-wringing in the local and national press about the dissolution of our industrial infrastructure. A review of this entire work will suggest that not only was this demolition timely but indeed long overdue in our current economic environment of absolutely needing to improve productivity and cost and quality control.
There are a total of 76 images of U.S. blast furnaces covering roughly 28 different sites and perhaps 69 different blast furnaces as near as we can tell. Locations range from Pittsburgh, Youngstown, Cleveland, Chicago and the "Alabama Iron Belt (Birmingham/Gadsden area). Of blast furnaces standing in the East, some significant ones were not covered in the book. These include Warren, OH (the famous Trumbull Cliffs Furnace,) Weirton, Lorain, U.S. Steel's Fairless Hills, PA works and Bethlehem's Lackawanna Works. There is no coverage of CF&I's Pueblo, CO plant.
Where we are not positive about identification we will so note. In some cases identification is verified by references with Dean Freytag's The History Making and Modeling of Steel; these are noted with the page number and "HM&M." After transcribing and editing the tape from the original presentation of these photos, we have been able to make additional correlations. For example, in our collections of blast furnace photos in books accumulated over the years we may be able to correlate these images with the Becher images and better identify both. Perhaps you will be able to notice additional items or correlations that we missed. The version of this paper you are reading has benefited both from reader input as well as field observations subsequent to its initial compilation.
Youngstown, Ohio 1983; LTV Steel/Youngstown Sheet & Tube; everything gone (On the following plates, information from Richard Rowlands, Youngstown area steel property expert is noted as RR)
1 Youngstown Ohio, 1983. United States Steel, Ohio Works, furnace number not known. RR This plant was the subject of several of Howard Fogg's P&LE paintings, one specifically identified as Ohio Works, another labeled "Industrial Scene, Youngstown, OH".
(Dean Freytag disagrees--feels this furnace is in Campbell Works.) Notice two downcomers going down to a common Y before going to the dustcatcher. This looks like the standard furnace top in many of our model furnaces in the drawings Mike has. It's connected at the top. There's probably a crossover at the top, and some furnaces you'll see like this have an explosion valve here in the center. That's a pillar crane on the right. You can see the hoist. It will swing. This crane will assist at getting the bells out of the furnace when they have to change the big bell or small bell. You will see this on most furnaces--maybe all. Later we will see some real interesting ones.
75 Youngstown, Ohio 1983 Same as 1 RR. Notice the trusswork across the top with the circular holes and the solid railings on the lower platform and staircases. These help keep tools and parts from falling off and killing people below. On the catwalk to the stoves, the railing is solid halfway up, again perhaps for the same dropping prevention reason. Again, double downcomer with connection. This was an "intermediate" top.
94 Youngstown, Ohio 1980, Youngstown Sheet & Tube Campbell Works RR. Also subject of at least two of Howard Fogg's paintings. This was a small, early furnace. The downcomers only about 3-4' in diameter. This one was built typically from the period 1915-1924--possibly a rebuilt from an earlier furnace shaft because these are small furnaces. Notice they've carried up an awful lot of top works with the very high vertical relief valves. The explosion valves are at the top. The service crane rails can be seen as an outrigger on the right. This one has four offtakes coming out of the top and coming down to the downcomer. Two diagonals have pipes going up to the explosion valves--a combination. Note the steep slope on the cast house roof. The clerestory at the top of the casthouse as well as the gap between the casthouse roof and the apron roof next to the blast furnace stack allows the fumes from casting to escape. Love those weathered P&LE gons down in the yard. Notice the different sheet planes on the roof, reflective of many changes made over the years.
95 Youngstown Ohio, 1980. Brier Hill Works, Youngstown Sheet & Tube/LTV Steel, Jeanette Furnace. RR Erected 1917. Operated until September, 1977. Description of preservation plan by Jeannette Blast Furnace Preservation Assn. appeared in SIANews, Spring, 1993. They were unsuccessful. Jeannette was demolished 2/5/97. Subject of a classical painting by Howard Fogg showing a P&LE Alco switcher on the Lake Erie &Eastern line to the west of Jeanette. There is an uptake with a downcomer connection (right) and another downcomer connection on the left. Notice the different sizes of the pipes--small diameter to large diameter. The pipe is going down into the gas cleaning equipment. The light colored smaller pipe is a pressure relief line, probably installed when they converted this to a higher pressure operation and used this a blowoff line if they had problems with pressure regulation. This is a set of 4 3-pass stoves instead of the more modern 2-pass stoves. The very top has a double beam craneway with all sorts of nice truss supports. Notice the very high topworks and very open structure and relatively simple structure. The reasons is they had a very steep skiphoist and had to get it high enough so they could dump into the center of the furnace. So the top structure had to be raised accordingly. If you had a shallow skiphoist, this whole topworks could have been reduced in height. So the height of the top depended on the angle of your skiphoist. This casthouse is what you might think of as the "standard" shape [similar to the Walthers model] but with a lot of siding removed. It would not have surprising to find out that a lot of that siding was removed while the plant was in operation. Often it would fall off (corrosion) and once it was off there was little incentive to put it back on because the openness kept the fumes out. So with our models this would facilitate detailing the inside.
106 Youngstown, Ohio 1981. USS Ohio Works RR These babies are old furnaces. [Mike thinks he has a journal reference but can't locate it presently] They date from the turn of the Century, maybe 1910. This is the cover photo. This furnace has had a mortal injury. Notice the crumple in the fourth ring on the stack from the bottom. This furnace has had a hot spot with a melt through. If you lay a protractor to it, you will see the stack is actually leaning about 5 degrees to the right. She is dead. This is a small furnace. Notice the octagonal brick casthouse with sloping roofs with corrugated metal extensions. These cast houses give Mike the impression from the size that they might have been pig bed casthouses. Again, very steep skiphoist. All the apparatus at the top is a set of material distribution gear. Mike is not sure , but this may have been one of those skip bucket furnaces instead of skip cars--a big bucket instead of a car. Look at the bridge going from the bell platform to the top of the stoves and observe all those steel bents supporting the catwalk. The high pressure relief line is that pipe that goes WAY up into the air above the downcomer. The little building to the right next to the cast house has the motors for the skip hoist. Behind the furnace we originally stated was the north end of the P&LE's Gateway yard; however, this is farther to the south, so this must be P&LE's subsidiary Lake Erie and Eastern's yard. Notice the tops of the stoves--"mushroom." These were probably later, redesigned. These would not have been tops contemporary with the original construction but instead would have dated from the thirties or forties. The bulbous shape is not because the workers were Russian Orthodox but instead to deliver better gas flow. We believe this is the southern furnace in the group of 5 that comprised those at the Ohio Works.
107. Youngstown, Ohio, 1981 USS Ohio Works RR. Different furnace in the same row. Probably at the north end. Same commentary as 106 about casthouse. Notice the first stove next to the furnace how it was extended above the others. This was done to increase heating capacity and is newer than the others.
116 Youngstown, Ohio, 1981. USS Ohio Works RR Looking "straight down the line." North(?). This is the same furnace as the cover photo and 106. Good view of the skip hoist and house. The hoist house is hanging over the high line. The high line is a two track one, quite typical of the older systems. Modern furnaces being built in the twenties and thirties had 3 tracks for better traffic flow.
117 Youngstown, Ohio, 1981. View of Republic Steel furnace, No. 5 per Dean Freytag , from Center St. bridge. RR This was Republic's Haselton Works. Just to the east of this complex was a fantastic rail junction called Center St. Jct. Here the Erie, PRR, P&LE and B&O crossed. Over the years articles and photos taken here appeared in the enthusiast press. Some of my favorites were in Rails Northeast August, 1982 and May-June, 1980, Trains, April, 1964, p. 40 and on pages 71 and 72 of Baltimore & Ohio Sunburst Trail to Chicago--Cumberland to Chicago by Ori, Salamon and Orozi. This must have been a wonderful site to watch action. Always something going on. The Center St. bridge was closed to vehicular traffic in the final years of the furnace (it is finally getting rebuilt--1996-1997) but you could walk out on the sidewalk. Howard Fogg did a painting depicting distant view of this and several other furnaces in the complex. Dan Williams from Cleveland built a wonderful model of this furnace from this one view. The model is illustrated on page 153 of HM&M. The only shortcoming is that he didn't have enough of a view of the dustcatcher to tell that it was up on legs and put it on the ground; the photo artfully conceals this. Only the true aficionado, of course, would notice. Again very steep skip hoist and slanted uptakes going up to a center collection point and two downcomers coming down to a dustcatcher buried behind the furnace out of sight. The "lizard skin" effect on the stack immediately above the cast house are cooling plates. This is a "thin wall" furnace, made of relatively thin, maybe a foot thick, firebrick. They install cooling plates that continue on down. The plates have water cooling apparatus. The platforms are for servicing the cooling plates and for the temperature monitors. The furnace stacks were instrumented as soon as it was realized that it was desirable to monitor and avoid hot spots. This one has an early top. You didn't see much of these tilted uptakes. I'm not sure who originated this design but they weren't' around for long. The projection on the left is the craneway for the crane to service the bells.
(Whew, glad we made it out of Youngstown. For this whole Youngstown section, a couple hours with Rick Rowlands and his large database would clarify a lot of the questions and add much detail. Rick hosted a tour of the Mahoning Valley for the Three Rivers Chapter of the Society for Industrial Archaeology in the Fall of 1997 and may have produced some handouts for that.)
Per Richard Rowlands, all of the above in Youngstown except Jeanette were demolished between 1981-1984. As noted earlier, Jeannette survived until 2/97.
Aliquippa, PA LTV/Jones & Laughlin Steel--gone.
This was a tough site to photograph. The mill went for miles with the Ohio River along one side and PA Route 51 along the other side. There was no place to pull off. Most of the site is now a pathetic, vacant field. Howard Fogg did a memorable painting showing the P&LE between the highway and the furnaces that was part of the P&LE's publicity series. After John Barriger left the P&LE, his successor, Curtis Burford continued the calendar painting project using other artists. The 1967 calendar had twelve paintings commissioned by Pittsburgh artist Norton Peterson. The January, 1967 painting featured the "new" blast furnace at Aliquippa in a view "taken" from on top of the ore pile. Outstanding.
202. Aliquippa, PA, 1986. Distant view taken from land side, probably from south side of ore pier.. Apparently after works was shut down and after ore piles removed. Normally you could not get this view because of ore piles. When Aliquippa was originally built, there was a line of five furnaces. An Aliquippa works track chart and site plan revised to 8/1/83, courtesy Gary Lasher, shows the blast furnaces designated Nos. 1-5 from north to south (or downstream to upstream; or in this photo, left to right.) Furnaces 1-2 and 3-4 had paired cast houses. Mike knows of a journal reference describing the original installation exists but has not had time to dig it out yet. (John Gallagher says the location is pronounced "Quippa." ) The central furnace is a total new furnace--don't know the date (probably from the 40s and 50s) because it is very similar in style to the Edgar Thomson furnaces we have drawings of. [After our initial presentation, I acquired the 1967 P&LE calendar. According to the caption, this then "new" furnace stands "26 stories high," has "a working volume of 54,000 cubic feet, she is one of the largest blast furnaces in the country." The furnace on the left is of the same style is probably a rebuild on the original stack. The height from the ground to the bell platform is about 100' because this was pretty much standardized in the early 20th Century. The one in the center has the same stack height but sits higher because the cast house floor was raised to get the larger ladles in. The biggest difference in height is in the top height.
The two small buildings left of the center are of unknown purpose.
2. Aliquippa, Pennsylvania, 1986 This is one of the older furnaces. It appears to be a telephoto shot of the top of the rightmost one in the overall view, 202. The bulges in the elbows are due to the fact that it was lined inside with brick to prevent erosion of the pipe from the ore dust. (Bob Johnson points out that he thought all these pipes were lined; the bulges must have had an extra thick layer!) To the right is the girder representing the extension of the craneway used to service the bell. This top is dense. Notice the multiple levels of platforms, stairways, etc. Notice the little platforms ringing the downcomers that aren't even decked. On the top closest to the camera is a pillar crane used to service the explosion doors. The beam is cantilevered to reach each of them. The tops of the pipes are connected with trusswork to stiffen them. Notice the heavy power lines coming through the scene--often omitted from models.
88. Aliquippa, Pennsylvania, 1986. Believe this is the same furnace as photo no. 2 taken from a different direction, obviously taken from catwalk of adjacent furnace or stoves. The stacks on the right are probably coming off the stove system in the back. There appear to be counterweights on the ends of the balance beams on the very top. Are those birds perched up there? Anyway, this needs more study--it looks a little weird. Every blast furnace plant engineer had his own ideas about how to make things work.
Cleveland, OH --This appears to be a mix of shots taken of a combination of the J&L, Republic and U.S. Steel/American Steel and Wire properties. Many of these are now gone.
3. Cleveland Ohio, 1980. AS&W/USS Central Furnace--believe this was the south furnace (p. 30 HM&M) Demolished 1984. Four uptakes continuing through a nice platform system on top. Four arms coming down to dual downcomers to a dustcatcher. The downcomers appear to come into opposite sides of the dustcatcher. This would not work too well, creating a lot of turbulence. The cast house roof shows layers of plating with gaps between allowing for plenty of ventilation. The stair tower going up is partially enclosed as is the bridge going back to the stoves. The rectangular mass beyond the stairs is probably an elevator shaft for servicing the tops of the furnaces and stove. The pipe that comes out of the center of the dustcatcher would have piping on the side out of view taking the gas to the next phase.
92. Cleveland, Ohio, 1980. Same as No. 3. Note the 4-stack blower house in the background. (HM&M p. 28) Here you can see the piping coming off the top of the dustcatcher going off to the gas cleaning equipment, a better shot of the stair towers on the left. The little arms at the very top are the operating arms for the blowoff or explosion valves. These will open at various times during the tap. You will see them periodically in different positions. They were controlled by a cable system running down to the cast house. You can see these cables in other photos but maybe not here. Some of the cabling got pretty wild in some cases with pulleys all over the place. You can see some of the older 50 ton wing ladles down in the cast house. These wings would engage in either a pig machine or open hearth. Undoubtedly there was a pig machine here. Where is the crane? Not quite sure! The cranes would not necessarily drop the bells all the way to the ground. Sometimes they would erect staging, or drop to the cast house floor, or use tackle to pull it outward.
159. Cleveland, Ohio, 1980. This is the same furnace as in No. 92 and No. 3 taken, I believe, a bridge over the Cuyahoga River.
20. Cleveland, Ohio 1986. This was one of a pair of Republic furnaces on the W. side of the Cuyahoga River. We don't know what their designations were but they were demolished in the mid-late 1980s. This is a small furnace. This has a relatively small stack. We have four very short uptakes. There were two jib cranes at the top. The beam for the other crane is visible and it only goes over to the center line so they could just reach down through all this stuff and pick up the bell. When they removed the bell they had to remove part of the skip hoist top. Notice the columns on the right vs. the platform support columns on the left which has a truss bracing--possibly a later addition to stiffen it. Two downcomers, high pressure relief pipes. On the right side we see the dustcatcher with an outlet pipe curving off the top going over to the gas washer behind it. The gas washer is surrounded with platforms and has a pressure relief pipe coming out of its top too. There are four stoves visible, and they are not all the same height reflecting the period of their installation. The black spots on the cast house roof cannot be identified. Perhaps they were holes or lifting rings or remove plating. (It's amazing the things you notice you didn't before when you blow these photos up!)
21 Cleveland, Ohio 1980. Believe in same complex as No. 20, sister furnace. Notice the four uptakes connected by the crosspiece and the triangular junctions with double downcomer, one for each side. The craneway is visible. The top crane is a trusswork jib boom off center. A bridge goes across to the stoves. The sheaves on the left redirect the cables for the skip hoist. There are several pyrometer platforms on the stack to service the skin.
103. Cleveland, Ohio 1980. This is the same furnace as No. 21. Note the "twin bridges" (Scherzer rolling lift, one B&O, the other Newburgh and South Shore) visible in distance, to the north. Only the southern one (one on right) is now standing. The dust collector is the vertical cylinder on the left connected with a large diameter arched pipe to the gas washer which in turn feeds into the next gas washer then to piping to the rest of the plant. The catwalk across the tops of the stoves is made of a very light looking truss and supported by light bents. There is a lot of water piping visible here (small diameter pipes) for all the gas washers. The streaky appearance is probably a result of the fact that this was not in operation. The ring on the gas pipe at the lower right side of the photo is a very large expansion plate system supported by a single column, not uncommon.
108. Cleveland, Ohio, 1980. Believe this is the same as No. 21 and 103. This was nicely visible from 3rd St. alongside the B&O's Clark Ave. yard. Again, the downcomer is visible. This furnace has a much larger piping system at the top than its sister to the south. The vertical metal staves about halfway up the stack are reinforcements, perhaps added after they saw some heat buildup.
204. Cleveland, Ohio, 1986 This is an overall shot of J&L/LTV Cleveland Furnace 1, now designated LTV C-1, still in service. Looking south. The concrete piers are the remains of the piers for the Clark Ave. bridge, a sadly demolished super spotting location. You used to be able to walk across this bridge and photograph right down into the cast house--ca. 1981, before they tore the bridge down. HM&M p. 65. Iron and Steel Engineer, February, 1959, pp. 86-104, will tell you more about this site than you want to know. The building with the stacks contains the boilers for the blower engines. This plant appears to be an A.G. McKee design, built ca. WWII, similar to Mike Rabbitt's plan set No. 2. McKee did a lot of design work, and a lot of furnaces in the Pittsburgh area were reflective of this design, including all of U.S. Steel's furnaces. You can tell an A.G. McKee furnace by the signature piping coming into the top of the dust catcher as well as the style and structure of the top. It's definitely an A.G. McKee casthouse. Mike believes their archives are intact and maintained by another engineering company. (J&L acquired this plant in 1942 from Otis Steel and began a mammoth modernization program. According to I&SE, No. 1 was new in 1952, completely replacing an older furnace on the site. The I&SE article further describes the specifications of No. 1 and her now defunct [collapsed in 1996 but stoves still standing @ 1997, painted green] companion, No. 2 but does not tell the firm responsible for the engineering.) This furnace is one of the few photographed in the book that is still standing and operating.
4. Duquesne, Pennsylvania 1986 U.S.Steel
This furnace is now entirely gone. The hulk of partially dismantled furnaces at Duquesne was toured by SIA, 6/93 and the tour briefly described in the Fall, 1993 issue of the SIA Newsletter. Duquesne, of course, was the site of a revolution in steel. The furnaces themselves were described in general and with historical context and site plan in "A Revolution in Steel: Mass Production in Pennsylvania, 1867-1901," by William Sisson, and in more detail in "The Development of Modern Blast Furnace Practice: The Monongahela Valley Furnaces of the Carnegie Steel Company, 1872-1913 by Joel Sabadasz, both in Volume 18, Nos. 1 and 2, 1992 (double Iron and Steel theme issue) of IA . This entire site was the subject of a HAER full or partial recordation, but only fragments of the survey have been published in the form of the IA article to date. You used to be able to get a great view of this furnace from the rt. 837 bridge. See Bessemer & Lake Erie in Color by Robert Lorenzo and Nathan S. Clark, Jr., p. 125. Believe this furnace was built by Pennsylvania Engineering Corporation and that the original construction drawings of these are with the rest of the PECOR material at the archives in Easton. Note the skip hoist that is bent above the middle. This was not very common. Also, the skip hoists on several of the Duquesne furnaces were free-standing. They were not supported by the furnace tops. This does look like it was supported by the top. Notice the plate girder bridge crossing over to the stoves, again uncommon. Observe the domed top of the stove. This is not a complete hemisphere. Mike notes that many modelers, including Mike before he studied the matter throughly, make the mistake of making this a full hemisphere. (Yet Bob Johnson points out that there is a prototype for everything--full hemispherical stove tops may be uncommon but they do exist, witness photo No. 196 at USS/TCI's Fairfield Works mentioned below.) Cast house roof has the "gill" effect with roof plating separated by spacers to give plenty of ventilation. The skip hoist engine house is the building on the left. The pipe in the lower right is probably a gas main and not a bustle pipe. Notice how high the downcomers are on the furnace platform.
97. Duquesne, Pennsylvania 1980. Interesting set of steel structure on the top. Notice the high structure for the hoist house and the cables. Mike believes this was a steam powered hoist hoise up to the end. The tall stacks behind the furnace were not from the stoves. Instead, these were part of the power house. The stoves are somewhat to the right. The powerhouse was in a very high building and the stacks were very tall. This looks like it was in the early phases of demolition. Notice the brick construction on the cast house with the arched windows.
Pittsburgh/Braddock (J. Edgar Thomson Plant/ USX Mon Valley Works--APEX Steel)
Site is still operating but the particular furnaces illustrated here may be gone. You need long a telephoto shot from across the river to get anything decent here from public property.
5. Braddock/Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 1980. Uptakes go all the way to the top platform. Downcomer goes down , joining the one from the other side and then entering the dustcatcher. Notice how far out the downcomers came--quite a distance. Notice the boltheads in the elbow area. They probably had wear plates inside the pipes to counter erosion from the dust. The steel structure between the downcomers is interesting.
Edgar Thomson at one time had 6 or 7 furnaces. The number was reduced over the years. In 1943 they built what were called the B and C furnaces which are now 1 and 2, not 5 and 6 as referred to in one of the SIA articles. These were 1300 ton furnaces. This particular furnace in this picture Mike believes was rated at 7-800 tons, an older furnace.
6. Braddock/Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 1980. This is one of the other older furnaces. Notice the sweeping curve of the downcomer on the right. Want to have been the sheet metal guy laying that one out? Notice all the various angles coming down. One of the things they finally figured out was the turbulence and pressure drops that resulted in all this piping. This was ultimately causing major problems in the gas flow. That's one reason why they eventually went to the very high furnace structures because this equalized the distances the gas was flowing and stop the turbulence and venturi effect. You can see the twin crane rails on the right and the jib crane on the very top. Notice on the top left the operating lines to the explosion doors and you can barely see a line dropping vertically to the right, so you had all sorts of control cables. You can see the cooling plates on the lower portion of the stack along with platforms to access them. The skirt roof above is to protect the furnace shell which is partially exposed at that point, so that we had lots of additional platforms and staircases on this one.
Pittsburgh/ Homestead, PA--U.S. Steel (Carnegie-Illinois)Carrie Furnaces
Although this site is part of the Homestead Works, the blast furnaces were actually across the river in Rankin. Site plan available from M. Rabbitt.
199. Homestead/Pittsburgh, 1980. This is almost a "stock" art view that one would simply label "The Blast Furnace." Views from a similar location (up on the hillside) have been published in various places over the years. Carrie Furnaces No. 1 and 2 were built 1947, engineered by A.G. McKee & Co. These furnaces were originally rated at 1300 tons. They are identical in all manner to Edgar Thomson B and C furnaces (Rabbitt Plan set No. 2) except they had more space in front to put the gas cleaning equipment (visible here) than they did at Edgar Thomson. By the time this photo was taken, the set of stoves on the left had been extended to get additional heating capacity. The furnaces were now probably about up to 2000 tons per day. Down in the lower area there were originally two precipitators. They show up in photos, e.g. in 1947, but by 1980 they had long since been removed. The pipe in the foreground is an 8' diameter gas main that goes through the entire plant circling around to the right through the other furnaces. The blowing engines for this particular set of furnaces were located to the right. The big buildings to the right of the furnace with the tall stacks that might suggest themselves as blowing engines were not. This was the boiler house and generator house--this was the electrical power plant feeding the rest of the plant. So the cold blast came in from the adjacent furnace area. Off to the left rear we can see one of the ore bridges. Behind the blast furnaces and out of sight is that bridge that took the hot metal across the river to Homestead. Here they used those 75 ton Pollock Kling-style cars (General Model/Suydam/Buckeye Models/Circle Enterprises and, now State Tool & Die) as well as the tiny bottle cars such as No. 36 that is parked in the weeds at Station Square. The open hearths were across the river in Homestead. So basically, this particular set of furnaces was "modern" vintage 1947. They stood until the bitter end. All you can see of these is the "salamander" of one, now, sitting in the middle of a vacant field. The furnaces that remain standing at Rankin were those to the west of these.
7. Homestead/Pittsburgh, 1983 This is No. 7 at Carrie Furnaces. No. 6 and No. 7 had overlapping stoves--i.e. they were in the same vicinity. The lines visible on the right operate the skip hoist. They go off to the steam engine house. Double downcomers, very compact upper works. This furnace was reinforced by a set of very heavy metal staves going vertical and horizontal. [Water cooled?] You can see the B&O rail line down below. You can still get a decent shot of these from up on the hill with a good telephoto lens. There is a way to get down there but I never figured out how and stopped because of all the broken glass in the back alleys on the way down so settled for distant photos in 1995. This and its companion are still standing and there is an effort to preserve them but God knows if it will be successful. Unfortunately, all the rest of the steel plant that these supported has been demolished, so you can't really build a museum with context.
Fairfield, AL--U.S. Steel
196. Fairfield Alabama, 1983. --Overall View. Another recent aerial photo of this site appears on pp.72-73 of Birmingham Bound, the 1998 book releasing high points of the HAER recordation of the Birmingham District. Mike doesn't have any information in his archives about this site. Courtesy Dale Sailors, technical data on Fairfield furnaces No. 1-6 may be found in the August 1939 issue of Blast Furnace and Steel Plant. Since this article was written, obviously, there were modifications made to at least some of these furnaces. Mike was able to offer the following visual interpretation. The group here is a classic example of the older furnaces on the right with newer or rebuild on the left. The one on the left looks like a relatively modern furnace, from the 40s or 50s as does the second from the left. The six-stack building looks like the boiler house feeding the blower engines further back somewhere. We do know that the only one standing is designated No. 8 which in early 1997 according to Dale was nearing a relining. It is now conveyor fed and the only furnace on the site. Based on a study of the aerial photo in BB, I believe No. 8 is behind the photographer in No. 196 so it is not visible in the photo. The sites were numbered for blast furnaces but Dale does not believe there were ever 8 standing at once, perhaps never more than 5. There are only 4 visible in this photo and we are not able to identify them as to number . They didn't use all the spots that were numbered, hence the designation of No. 8. This was not at all uncommon. We do know one was No. 7 . Dale's Directory of Iron and Steel Works of the United States and Canada, 1984 volume, contains specifications for Fairfield No.7 and No. 8. According to information in BB, published after this presentation was made, No.8 was "installed in 1978, produces 6,000 tons of iron (the equivalent of 50 Vulcan statues) daily. Charged with raw materials by a 1,000 foot long conveyor, this furnace melts pelletized iron ore....Furnace burden for one day's run includes 8,000 tons of iron ore (imported via barge and rail from Canada, Brazil, Venezuela and Minnesota), 3000 tons of coke (imported from Japan and Australia) and 500 tons of limestone (quarried locally)" .The silver looking building is still there--or was the last time Dale was there. The coke plant was on the other side but gone now too. There were 8 coke batteries and a big byproducts facility as well as a refractory facility over there. The coke was conveyor fed to a large silo which is not in this view; from there it went into the stock house for the current furnace. Now there are two dumphouses, one on each side of the stock house, which dump and then conveyor feed into the furnace. Note the contrast between the old brick building at the far left and its more modern steal sheathed mate to its right. Interesting to note that all that stuff in the immediate right foreground is one of those oft discussed but seldom seen or photographed pig caster (the inclined concrete ramp with a roof over it.) In front of it are bottle cars. Dale reports that plant currently uses 20 bottle cars. We got a chance to visit this furnace during the 1999 SIA Fall Tour. They even cleaned up the cast house before our visit. None of us had ever seen a cast house so tidy. There were no heavyweight technical handouts, but the brochure we did received noted that the 2000 degree air from the stoves is supplemented by a natural gas, oxygen and pulverized coal mix through the 26 tuyeres. In addition to ore pellets, coke and limestone, the charge includes scrap as well as slag from the Q-BOP furnace. My notes record that the stove and furnace controls are provided by Davy. We were told No. 8 was last relined in 1996, and they hope this project is good for 15 years.
8. Fairfield, Alabama, 1983. An OLD, OLD furnace. Very small furnace, looks like the rightmost furnace in No. 196. Big fat downcomers, looking slightly diseased; diameters probably 5-6'. . Skip hoist is visible, as are the arms for the pressure relief valves. The "flamingo" looking metal sculpture on the top of the dustcatcher looks like a light fixture of some kind.
104. Fairfield, Alabama, 1983. Same place. Appears to be the rightmost two furnaces in No. 196. Look at the marvelous high stacks coming off the dustcatchers. The piping on the right is the gas mains. These furnaces were arranged in the so-called echelon arrangement, with each cast house 15-20 degrees angled to the blast furnace row. These two were built identical at the same time. Lots of interesting piping bridges, for example, the one in the background , being supported by heavy trussworks. To the left of the skip hoist what looks a little like a coke oven is probably bins associated with the high line.
9. Gadsden, Alabama 1983. Dale Sailor's Directory of Iron and Steel Works of the United States and Canada, 1984 volume, contains specifications for furnaces No. 1 and 2 at this site but we don't know which one this is. Dale's notes indicate that this is actually Etowah, Alabama. It is obvious that this is a very small furnace, maybe 500 tons. This facility has changed ownership over the years, as with a lot of these plants. They were once part of Republic, at this time operating as Gulf States Steel. They do give tours; Dave Moltrup received a good one after he was harassed by plant security taking pictures outside the gate in October 1999. The same day, Dale Sailors and John had a good around-the-fence tour without problems. There is only one furnace there now, and the one in this image has been demolished. However, its stoves are still standing and perhaps in use to get more heating capacity. Note the very large plate girder at the top supporting the skip hoist sheaves with lines going way out in the air on the left. On the left on the pipe leaving the dustcatcher is a good illustration of an open goggle valve. Note the steel structure around the furnace shell with bracing supporting the top works. There are little platforms attached to the downcomers without decking, probably for servicing clean out holes. Closed rails on the platform. It's an old, old furnace. Maybe they were getting 700-800 tons a day out of it at the end with modern appliances. Dean notes that for modelers building the Walthers furnace, using the steel plate railings is one heck of a lot easier than using the open railings. Dale notes that this plant is the highest polluter in the state of Alabama. The plant is about an hour northeast from Birmingham and if you visit, there is a perimeter road that circles the entire plant that allows you to photograph almost everything in the plant. Also there is a State Road that allows you to get a view south right down into the cast house, much like the old Clark Ave. bridge in Cleveland. You can also get a nice panorama of the plant from this point, with the coke plant on your left (to the east) the blast furnace in the center with the mill buildings in the distance, and the melt shop on the right (west). To get a good shot of the blast furnace, a 200-300mm telephoto lens is helpful, and you can set up a tripod on the bridge. In downtown Gadsden there is also a nice HO historical diorama layout in the
Arts and Cultural Center which contains a decent model of the coke ovens and blast furnace.
74. Gadsden, Alabama, 1983 Again, an older furnace. The "other" one from Plate 9 and the one that is still standing in 1999. You can get this photo with about a 250mm lens from the road that runs along the west side of the plant. The diagonal pipe from the dust catcher is a pressure relief line with its own explosion door. The specifications provided by Dale indicate No.1 is 89', 11 3/4" high, while No. 2 is 105' 9 ½" high, so if we saw an overall site view we could identify them based on height and the different piping. Based on the extensive steelwork in the top of the furnace in plate 9 and 93, I would guess this is the higher one and thus No. 2.
93. Gadsden, Alabama, 1983. This is the same furnace as Plate 9 taken from a view about 75-80 degrees counterclockwise. Again, the plate girder top structure with the crane more visible in this view. A big open cast house . It looks like you could drive up into it, suggesting that it may have been a pig-bed casthouse. There is no provision visible for ladle cars.
Pittsburgh, PA-- J&L/LTV Eliza Furnaces
The book Eliza, Remembering a Pittsburgh Steel Mill, with photographs by Mark Perrott and introduction by John R. Lane was published by Howell Press, Charlottesville in 1989. The book chronicles the demolition with striking photographs and is accompanied by a series of interesting oral history interviews. This is a "must have" only if you are in love with this site, as it does not have detailed documentary, technical, historic or graphic information. According to the book (the best source I have since I didn't collect clippings from the Pittsburgh papers at the time) these furnaces were shut down in 1979. Demolition started (based on the photos) in the spring of 1980. By early 1981, P-1 and P-3 were still standing.
200. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 1980. Overall view from hillside at edge of Schenley Park. B&O's Laughlin Jct. is below. U.S. Steel building is the monolith in the background to the left of center. On the other side of the Monongahela River was the open hearth and formerly Bessemer shops. References: Iron & Steel Engineer Proceedings, 1954.
There were originally 6 furnaces here. Starting from the right, the furnaces were numbered P-1 through P-6 ("P" for Pittsburgh.). Five are visible here. P- 5 is gone. Note that P- 3. is larger than the others. P-3 was called Ann or Big Annie, and she was the last to operate--supposedly the only one from 1975 on. Mike used to have a girlfriend named Big Annie but we'll leave it at that. P-4 has the smallest top structure so is probably the most antique in its architecture. P- 2 and P-6 were rated at approx. 750-800 tons/day perhaps up to about 1000 tons at one time if they pushed it. The little one, P- 4, was down at about 650-700 and they could push it to maybe 800. P- 3 was nominally rated about 900 with maximum capacity of 1100. Page 25 of the Perrot book describes a breakout and explosion in P-1 but the date is not given. The last tap from P-3 was made at 10:45am on June 22, 1979. Demolition of all the furnaces was complete by June, 1983. Somewhere I have a clipping showing toppling of the final stack.
This particular set of furnaces had an enclosed, two track high line with steam heating and gas piping going along to thaw the cars. The furnaces were completely rail supplied. They had no ore bridge. There was a reserve stockpile with about 80,000 tons of material some distance away (to the west.) They were totally dependent on the ore stockpiles at Ashtabula, Conneaut, etc. This is an excellent model railroader's plant because it provides for plenty of traffic. The buildings on top of the stock house were the hoist houses for the skip hoist. Across the river you can see the four stack s from one of the open hearths on the South Side. You can also see, on the left, part of the hot metal bridge that crossed the river. It is still standing, as is the power house behind furnace 4. Notice the varying heights of the stoves down the line--depending on when they were rebuilt and the whim of the engineers. This is a good set of furnaces from a modeler's perspective. (B&O diesel guru Jim Mischke of Albuquerque is planning a layout based on the Laughlin Jct. area. I look forward to seeing his interpretation. I always thought this area, with the wye, stub end passenger station, tunnel, etc. was very modelgenic and I'm surprised John Armstrong never published a design based on it.)
201. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 1980. Closer view of the two westernmost furnaces (nos. 1 and 2.) . "Hot metal bridge" is visible to right as are the open hearths and rolling mills on the South Side. No. 1 is actually close to the size of the Walthers furnace. The uptakes come up to a center point. But there are two downcomers, one on the visible side, and one on the other side. They come down to a dustcatcher which is located behind the stoves. So this furnace is one of those strange combination designs. The older furnace, No. 2, has uptakes with downcomers coming off the center, a different arrangement than No. 1. There are a total of 8 stoves between the furnaces with slightly different heights. You can get a better view here on the front of the stock house shed of the steam and gas pipes for car thawing.
12. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 1980. This is No. 2, taken from the river side. It had to have been taken from the crane gallery of the power house. The horizontal pipes appear to come off the side of the dustcatcher. What a strange piping arrangement. That's what we will call it. Possibly to dampen gas turbulence.
13. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 1980. This is No. 2 taken from the hillside.
72. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 1980. Same, No. 2, taken straight on from the hill side.
10. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 1980. This appears to be No. 4. This what Mike calls a lightweight topworks. You don't have much in the way of downcomers. Only some explosion doors. Very bad piping for gas flow. Take a look at the up and down staircases going across these varying height stoves. The stoves for furnace No. 3 almost dwarfed this furnace. This, Mike believes, was the 700 ton furnace and had a 16' hearth and was built quite early. They went through many different evolutions at this plant. It's an old one.
11. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 1980. This looks like No. 6. We are looking west, and Laughlin Jct. is in the background. Lots of cooling plates on this furnace shell. Lots of cranes visible on top--jib crane in the middle. Different height stoves.
109. Steubenville, Ohio, 1986, Wheeling Pittsburgh Steel. (Original information was updated and corrected based on a field visit in 10/98 JT) This is Wheeling-Pittsburgh No. 2, one of a pair in Steubenville, this one closer to the road. There are 4 furnaces total at what W-P calls its Steubenville Plant, the other two being a mile or so downriver at Mingo Jct. This furnace was still standing but not operating in 1998. Look at these weird downcomers--looping out. Very, very steep, plate girder skip hoist. There is no ore bridge visible here, but there is one on the site. This is a very tight plant. Mike has reviewed a set of insurance plans of this map, and you can see this--they show everything except the cast house trackage in the five large sheets--which would cost a fortune to Xerox. Mike has only seen European plants with this style of downcomer and doesn't see why they didn't use a single downcomer instead of the doubles. (Backwash from the audience--plant engineer was named Herr Schleicher, no he was Polish, etc., but it was true, Steubenville had a heavy European contingent.) On the right you see the elevated connecting bridge going between furnaces. Back to the downcomers, Mike thinks it was a matter of experimenting with gas flow designs.
15. Steubenville, Ohio, 1980. Closeup of furnace in 109
14. Steubenville, Ohio, 1980. This is a closeup of the companion furnace to the one in 109, No.1, the one closest to the Ohio River.
91. Steubenville, Ohio, 1980 Same as 14.
102. Mingo, Junction., Ohio, 1986-Wheeling Pittsburgh Steel . This was Wheeling-Pittsburgh No. 4, at one time very visible from alongside public road. We've probably all seen this one. The architecture of the top by now should be relatively identifiable for those of us who have not fallen asleep. The major pipe at the top of the three pass stoves was the cold blast from the blowing engines. The air would go down, up, then down into the bustle pipe. There would be a big crossover valve up here to turn the blast off and permit the gas which is being burned at the bottom to go up, down and up the stack. Furnace was demolished in 1993 or 1994 according to guide on a plant tour in 1998. Existing furnaces still standing at Mingo are No. 3 (closest to road, partly visible on the right of this photo) and No. 5, near the Ohio River. No. 5 is said to be oxygen charged, substantially increasing its production.
161. Mingo Junction, Ohio 1986. The book has a section on stoves but this and 159 are the only ones of US furnaces. The brick building with the arched-top windows is probably the blowing house. It is hard to tell which furnace these belong to, but I am guessing they are the stoves to No. 3, taken from the north side.
96.. Johnstown, Pennsylvania, 1980. Bethlehem Steel, gone. The Assn. of Iron and Steel Engineers has a profile of the plant (ref. --Mike to pull from his files) giving every dimension you ever wanted to know. Also, the America's Industrial Heritage Project book entitled Historic Resource Study--Cambria Iron Company, by Sharon A. Brown, 1989) has site plans and description of the whole plant and is a "must-have" for anyone interested in this site. Neither Mike nor I know enough about the site to correlate the photos with the furnaces on the site plans, unfortunately. This one is one of the relatively modern furnaces in the set. The little car in the foreground is a transfer caboose. Bob Yagodich has made a nice HO model of this car, exhibited at the 1997 PRRT&HS Convention. This is obviously "H" Furnace and the joke is on John Teichmoeller. Notice how steep the casthouse roof was. It reminds you of an Alpine village. The large overhangs give good protection to the molten slag and hot metal. Let's call this the "chalet style" casthouse. This was characteristic of many Bethlehem plants. Another characteristic was that this siding--at least on many--was not corrugated; instead it was just flat steel plates. It's hard to tell here because the streaks give the suggestion of corrugations. Possibly plated with rejects from the mill. Brendan Brosnan asked if these roofs built up snow in the winter. The answer is no--they were sufficiently steep and warm that that was not a problem. Water and mud were a problem in the winter, though. The flood of 1977 caused Bethsteel to cease iron production and eventually tear the furnaces down and convert this whole plant to an electric steelmaking facility. Primary products were blooms and billets for bar, rod, wire and axles. Parts of the plant have been sold off to other operators subsequent to 1993, and I believe it is still operating buy not by Bethlehem.
16. Johnstown, Pennsylvania, 1980. This is the same furnace as No. 96 from a different angle. Here we can see there are 2 dust collectors. Relatively minor top but notice the structural steel bracing. The crane is on the right with the two hooks visible and the relatively modern set of cranes at the very top.
100. Johnstown, Pennsylvania 1980. Believe this is in the lower works. Perhaps this was the furnace whose only remnants now visible from the Amtrak station are the stoves. It was last used to produce ferromanganese. Proportions--look at the ratio of the top to the stack. There is a very steep skip hoist which meant the top had to be high. There is a large hoist house and an interesting elevator shaft behind it. Check out the expansion loop in the white pipe, probably a steam line. It looks like a big gas main underneath it.
101. Johnstown, Pennsylvania, 1980. Believe lower works again. Bethlehem style cast house, double downcomers, relatively small dustcatcher linked with the long horizontal pipe to the gas cleaning gear. The piping here is a little difficult to figure out.
73. Johnstown Pennsylvania, 1980. Same furnace as 101 and a mirror image of 16! This is looking straight on the skip hoist with the double dustcatchers and the connecting piping fully visible--one for each downcomer.
17. Monesson, Pennsylvania, 1979. Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel
Gone. This was a nice site to photograph from public streets. The P&LE line ran alongside. The famous blast furnace duo modeled at the Severna Park, MD model railroad club is said to have been partially inspired by this setup. Bethlehem Steel bought the rail mill and was trying to sell it as one package to offshore interests @4/97. Old plant. Kris Rosmiller, who is modeling this plant, identifies this as Furnace No. 1. Observe the strange uptakes with caps, solid platform railing. This is an old, old furnace that has been rebuilt many times. This one is so weird that if you built a model like this we would probably ridicule you unjustifiably! They were cold and painted in red lead when I first saw and photographed them in 1982. Kris' research says that there were 3 furnaces here at one time (I believe all 3 were standing in 1982 when I was there first.) Nos 1 and 2, the oldest, had a combined output of 1200 tons/day when they were first built. After No. 3 was built (known as Jane), with an original capacity of 1200 tons/day, Nos. 1 and 2 were only used occasionally. When No. 3 was rebuilt in 1965 she was increased to 2500 tons/day.
South Chicago--U.S. Steel
203. South Chicago, Illinois, 1978. We don't have any hard information about this plant yet but there must be lots of data in the professional/trade literature on it that can be uncovered with some research. It can be stated however that this is an old plant, appearing to be built around 1915 or so. It's gone now. There are four furnaces visible here. Dale Sailors indicates a movie (he forgets the name) was filmed there after the plant was shut down. The plot involved cold fusion. Some scenes were shot during demolition of the plant showing bomb explosion effects but in some scenes things appeared mostly intact--perhaps five minutes of such footage. He indicates it is currently available at video stores. There was an excellent article entitled "The South Works Narrow-Gauge Railroad," by John F. Humiston in Railroad History No. 180 (Spring 1999), pp. 73-126. This article covered the rolling stock, equipment and work environment. However, due to the magazine's format, there were no good pictures of the blast furnaces, and the site plans reproduced were too small to discriminate anything meaningful.
18. South Chicago, Illinois, 1978. Old furnace. This appears to be the leftmost furnace on plate 203. The skip hoist is supported by bents as opposed to the furnace stack. (Some of the Duquesne skip hoists were supported in this way, too.)
Gary, Indiana--U.S. Steel
205. Gary, Indiana, 1982. Overall view with what appear to be 10 blast furnaces visible. This view is looking at the line with the south side of the row on the left of the picture. Mike has a plan of the Gary Plant but he will not be adding it to his plans inventory because he can't find a way to reduce an 18' x 100' sheet down to reasonable size. This plant was beyond focus. What you see here is a series of older furnaces. The second from the right appears to be one of the older ones, perhaps one of the original ones. There were twelve furnaces in line, and Mike thinks they counted from 1 at the left. The far furnace on the right here appears to be one of the newest ones. In this picture No. 1 and No. 3 appear to be twins and in original form. It's not clear whether some of the original 12 have been demolished by the time this photo was taken or if they are to the left of the photo.
110. Gary, Indiana 1982. Based on top structure and details of house around base of furnace, this appears to be No. 3 from Photo 205. Study the octagonal cast house and the downcomers ducking under the skip hoist to the dust catcher on this side which is not as common. In the back at the right you see the train coming in on the ore side of the bins. This is a three track ore bridge. The structures on the left of the blast furnace are the boiler plant or open hearths.
111. Gary, Indiana, 1982. Wonderful example of "echelon" blast furnace formation. Top structure is similar to either No. 1 or No. 3 from the overall view (205), but there are differences and house structure is distinctly different. Mike Pennie suggests this furnace stood to the left of those visible in Photo 205, the overall view.
19. Gary, Indiana, 1982. This one is taken from an elevated position, perhaps from the ore bridge, of what looks like same one in No. 111. Notice that on the older ones the dustcatchers are still tucked in behind in a very tight location, causing more traffic problems. Are those 3-pass stoves (stacks on top)?
89. Gary, Indiana, 1982. The south side of the furnace in Photo 19, whichever one it is. This view reinforces how tight it was around the dust catcher. A stairway is visible crawling up under the skip hoist. The columns support the skip hoist--it is not being totally supported by the furnace.
112. Gary, Indiana, 1982. Further down the line, from the other side (north), one of the more modern furnaces, probably No. 2 in the overall view. (Bob Johnson notes the position of the elevator between furnace and the cylindrical stack and the absence of another furnace in the background that would probably show if this was No. 4.) This is an older furnace with a relatively new top on it to increase capacity. There is a fortune in Overland slag pots sitting there.
113. Gary, Indiana, 1982. This looks like No. 7 in the overall view because the next in line also has skinny downcomers and is probably No. 6. Notice the skinny downcomers. One of the old furnaces with a little tiny rebuild top! They just took the old uptakes and stacked some extra piping on top of it. By now you should have just a few ideas as to how to make your Walthers kit a little different from everybody elses. About 50, in fact, if you haven't fallen asleep. The actual furnace is comparable in size to the other older style at the start of the sequence. Notice the huge dustcatcher. They probably modified that piping, too. Bottle cars are visible on the right with hand-painted lettering. Imagine the rail congestion in a plant like this, even with the crossovers visible.
Baltimore, MD-Sparrows Pt.--Bethlehem Steel
Originally blast furnaces on this site were designated A,B,C,D,E,F,G,H,I, J, and K. According to Mark Reutter's book Sparrows Point, Furnace I was built in 1956. However, our tour guides say there never was an I, perhaps because of possible confusion with the numeral 1. Such is the mythology of plant tours. You really can't believe anything unless you get it from official records. In any event, in 1978, furnace L was built, the largest blast furnace in the Western Hemisphere. As of 1975, A,B and C (much rebuilt from their designated ancestors of the 1890s, of course) were still standing. By 1960, there were 7 blast furnaces on the site according to Reutter. At the time these photographs were taken, H,J K and maybe others were still standing. The last time I toured the plan in 3/97 , H and J were standing. I and K was presumably demolished to make room for the infrastructure of L. They might be down now; Bethlehem doesn't publicize demolitions down at the Point. The photos here then probably cover H and J and maybe K and or others, but cannot be further identified without discussion with one of the workers; even then, identification is dicey, as many steel workers seem to have limited site knowledge as noted. Many traditionally ended up working inside one building the major part of their career. The best source of information about the physical plant is often an outside vendor. The blast furnaces were arranged echelon fashion in a row on the south side of the property, running east and west. The high-line was on the south side. Next to it was the ore yard alongside the ore harbor at the mouth of Baltimore Harbor. In 1997 John spoke with some of the folks at Sparrows Pt. He sent copies of these photos to one Ted Baldwin of Public Affairs requesting identification; the request went unanswered, and John has not had a chance to follow up.
98. Baltimore, Maryland, 1981. An older furnace. Note the signature Bethlehem casthouse. But no "FCE" lettering. Notice the cooling staves supporting the furnace shell. Very lightweight topworks. In this photo, left is east, right is west and we are looking south. The mouth of Baltimore Harbor is beyond the photo. The archives in Easton have a photo album recording the original plant in gorgeous, large negative format. Another source of original photographs of this plant--a "builders photo album of Maryland Steel" is in the Hagley Museum in Wilmington.
99.. Baltimore, Maryland, 1981. A sister to the furnace in Plate 98. It looks like the same one visible on the right side of image 98, and almost from the same angle.
22. Baltimore, Maryland, 1981. One of the other furnaces at the point. Note all the platforms going around the shell. This has a more massive structure on top indicating it was a later furnace or is a rebuild of one of the earlier ones.
86. Baltimore, Maryland, 1981. Another view of one of the upgraded furnaces--same as in Plate 22. Note the little repair cranes over each of the explosion doors on top.
23. Baltimore, Maryland, 1981. This is another view of one of the older ones. Details appear to be same furnace as Plate 98, but structure same as the one in 99. Old, old furnace. Not much there on top. Notice the fabricated diagonal crane rail struts.
87. Baltimore, Maryland, 1981. One of the newer furnaces or more modern rebuild of an older one--this looks like a '40s style architecture.
Ensley, AL. Gone--demolished by late 1985 or early 1986. Mike has no hard data file on this plant other than knowledge that this is an old plant. This plant was built by Tennessee Coal and Iron, then bought out by U.S. Steel in the early 1900s but still operated as the TCI Division. At one time there were six furnaces here, described in the 8/39 issue of Blast Furnace and Steel Plant.
195. Ensley, Alabama, 1983. Overall view. This looks like a pig-bed casthouse plant. The style of the tops dates them to about the turn of the Century--1910. Dale Sailors offered some commentary based on his knowledge of the site. He indicates the large stacks on the left are still standing. One of the furnaces was for ferromanganese production, while another produced iron for company foundry use. They made many things out of iron, even including iron picture frames for executives. There are reports of an accident where the top blew off of one of the blast furnaces. That could be why there appears to be a gap at the right side. There was a terrible traffic problem in the plant because hot metal had to be hauled uphill to the open hearths. The heights of the furnaces on the specification tables provided by Dale from Blast Furnace & Steel Plant show No. 6 was the shortest, No. 5 next shortest, Nos. 2, 3 and 4 about the same height and No. 1 a little over 3' shorter than Nos. 2, 3 & 4. Of the five furnaces visible here, the one on the left seems to be slightly shorter than the one to its right and there seems to be a gap between the right-most furnace and the three stoves. Therefore, I would guess the furnaces in this photo are, left to right, Nos. 1,2,3,4 and 5 and 6 is gone. (The specs. showed No. 6 had three stoves, while others had between 5 and 7 each, so the three lonesome stoves also support a "missing" No. 6.)
Birmingham Bound, pp. 2-3 has a 1994 aerial photo showing the vacant site with just some stacks and one building remaining, and there is a vignette photo on the cover showing the remains of a hot metal mixer.
194. Ensley, Alabama, 1983. Tops and casthouse roofs. To give you an idea of how old this plant is, notice the downcomer exiting the stack itself on the right-side furnace and the second from the left here. Appears to be Furnaces 1, 2, 3 and 4 in No. 195.
24. Ensley, Alabama, 1983 This is the second from the right in Plate 194 (No. 3.) Notice the grab iron steps on the pipe.
25. Ensley, Alabama, 1983. This is the furnace on the right in Plate 194 (No. 4). Notice the jib crane on top driven by chain. This would be used to get the bell out. We see what appears to be that "chalet" style cast house architecture but there is no known connection of this plant with Bethlehem. Maybe Bethlehem's engineer started out here. Brendan Brosnan says Wisconsin Steel in Chicago had the same architecture, too. Downcomer coming out of stack.
26. Ensley, Alabama 1983. Furnace No. 5 in Photo No. 195., the far right one. Look at all the junk up there. Notice the open eaves on the cast house. This was only a year and half before the plant was demolished and it obviously hadn't been operated in some time.
105. Ensley, Alabama, 1983. Could be titled simply "Abandonment." This is furnace No. 5 (note how much shorter it is than one barely visible in left side of photo--also, you can see the same corrugated panel ajar at the end cast house near the roof peak.)
27. Ensley, Alabama, 1983. Looks like Furnace No. 2. Simple, lightweight structure on top. Again, if you built a model like this, the rest of us experts would probably ridicule you for your ignorance. Dale Sailors observes that the large horizontal pipe had those vertical sections to collect dust. Notice the clean out doors.
114. Neville Island, Pennsylvania, 1980. Shenango, Inc. Gone
Tough site to photograph close by. This view appears to have been taken from a river cruise boat--edge of railing visible at bottom.
There were a pair of blast furnaces here. This was the southern one. The high line curves around on a loop. Observe the very lightweight structure of the skiphoist.
85. Neville Island, Pennsylvania, 1980. Same as 114.
115. Birmingham, Alabama 1983.-- Sloss Furnaces. Last owned by Jim Walter Corp. Currently a Public Park. This is a decently interpreted site. There is a pig caster on site as well as two unique early Pollock bottle cars. Ancient plate girder skip hoist--basically a girder bridge. Very simple. The skip cars are visible inside. Very simple top too. The receiving hopper is the funnel-shaped structure; below it is the bell. There is a single downcomer coming out the side. The dustcatcher is hidden behind the silo-shaped item. These are old furnaces and are fully documented. Dale Sailors reports a just-published book that interprets the site well--perhaps it is an abstract of the large HAER recordation that was done in the early 1980s. It's called Sloss Furnaces and the Rise of the Birgmingham District. Dale reviewed it in the Fall, 1998 Lineside. The book apparently points out that the simple top structure wasn't a result of the furnaces being old and primitive as it was an adaptation to the type of charge they used. One furnace is cosmetically restored; the other is being stabilized in the weeds. Birmingham Bound, pp. 41-43 has a nice spread on Sloss including a decent aerial photo of the site and a pretty good size reproduction of one of the HAER drawings. Believe this photo is of that furnace, No. 1.
197.Bethlehem, Pennsylvania 1986. This is the only photo of this site in the book. This signature view was originally supposed to change with the planned demolition of all the blast furnaces, designated left to right A through E However, hard work on the part of those dedicated to making this site the premier U.S. iron and steel museum has resulted in their hopeful long term retention. The August, 1997 issue of Smithsonian had an article discussing this project, but there was little definitive information in it. More than you ever want to know about this site is at Easton, PA. RRISIG member Brendan Brosnan did an article on modeling the rowhouses in April, 1997 Railroad Model Craftsman. A great painting of this view, made in winter, was reproduced as a center spread in the April, 1944 Fortune as part of an article on Bethelehem. This was part of the series of articles commissioned by Henry Luce on American companies. An interesting book describing the iron and steel industry in the Lehigh Valley is The Anthracite Iron Industry of the Lehigh Valley by Craig L. Bartholomew and Lance E. Metz, published by the Center for Canal History and Technology in Easton, 1988, in conjunction with the SIA's meeting there. Unfortunately the book's scope limits itself to the early, not the present site. It presumably has been fully recorded by the folks at Easton, and I can only hope that my annual membership support of the Hugh Moore Park enables this material to go further than being relegated to the archives.
A furnace on the left has its original shell with a 1940s-50s style topworks and the original 3-pass stoves. C,D and E are total rebuilds after they either blew up or had to be redone from wear. F and G are long gone. C furnace also still has her original stoves. The last furnace in operation was D.
198. McKeesport, Pennsylvania., 1986 U.S. Steel, National Tube Works. This marvelous view was available from public property. The railroad tracks in the foreground are the B&O. The October, 1994 B&O Historical Society's calendar had a nice shot taken along the tracks here. I may be hallucinating but I am almost positive this had been demolished by 1986--I don't remember seeing it in September of 1984 because I photographed the Duquesne Works right across the river at the time, drove through McKeesport, and would certainly have photographed this at the same time. Kris Rosmiller probably has a lot more information on this site. The remains of the tube mills themselves are being used by other companies now; site was toured by SIA in 1993 and photography was permitted.
These furnaces all started out the same size (4 of them) but y ou can see that there have been some height variations have resulted as well as some variations in the stoves. For the right side group of stoves, there must have been an L shaped pattern because they wouldn't have had five stoves serving two furnaces. For a view taken from the "other" (west--river) side of the two furnaces on the left, see pages 46-47 of Industrial America--1940-1960--173 Photographs by Andreas Feininger, published by Dover, 1981 but no longer in print per Amazon.com. This is a shot that will make your jaw drop. The caption does not identify the location but it is unmistakably this. It will show you all the stuff over there including a large roundhouse with McKeesport Connecting steam locomotives as well as lots of stacks, powerhouses and other stuff you can't see in this view. Mike identified and correlated this view, and it is a good example of what we, and hopefully you, will be able to do going forward now that we have learned more about blast furnace architecture, these sites and the specific furnaces. Get your Post-it® notes out and start writing captions for your collection. The roundhouse was still standing when we drove by the site in October, 1997 with the B&O Historical Society, but we did not go back and tour it.