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Iron and Steel Manufacture

After 1860 the iron and steel industry served as the mainstay and primary determining factor in Cleveland’s transition from a mercantile to an industrial center. The development of the iron and steel industry relied heavily upon reinvested capital from the prosperous mercantile and small manufacturing concerns surrounding Cleveland’s Ohio canal and Lake Erie trade. Sixty-eight percent of all the officers and directors of Cleveland iron and steel companies between 1875 and 1900 came from business and small manufacturing families. Between 1860 and 1880 Ohio maintained second place behind Pennsylvania in pig iron production and assumed second place in output of rolled iron. During this period and through the late nineteenth century, the entire pattern of Ohio iron and steel industry altered. Pennsylvania coal and coke replaced local charcoal for fuel. Ohio ore production declined from 488,750 gross tons in 1880 to 61,016 gross tons in 1900. In 1855 the first ore from the Lake Superior region was mined and available. The successive openings of the Marquette, Menominee, and Mesabi ranges made this area the most important ore-producing region in the United States.

Ninety percent of the Lake Superior ore was transported by boat. Cleveland became one of the major Great Lakes ore ports for the receipt of Lake Superior ore. Increasingly dependent on Lake Superior ore, the Ohio iron and steel industry moved north from its base in the Hanging Rock Region and Hocking Valley to more accessible areas in Cleveland and Youngstown. Railroads between Cleveland and Western Pennsylvania brought coal and coke to Cleveland and carried ore from the ore docks to inland steel producers. Cleveland’s easy access to both ore and coal helped to make the city one of the major iron and steel centers of the United States.

[William T. Hogan, Economic History of the Iron and Steel Industry in the United States, 5 vols. (Lexington, 1972). pp. 17-23,53,62-63, 195-196; John N. Ingham, “Rags to Riches Revisited: The Effect of City Size and Related Factors on the Recruitment of Business Leaders,” Journal of American History 63 (December, 1976): 617-637; Charles Langdon White, “Location Factors in the Iron and Steel Industry of Cleveland, Ohio,” Denison University Bulletin: Journal of the Scientific Laboratories 29 (April 1929): 81-96.]

2650 Broadway Avenue
Cleveland South

Purchasing the land for the Central Furnace in 1881, the Cleveland Rolling Mill Company constructed a blast furnace plant to supply its Newburgh steelworks with iron. In an 1899 consolidation of the American Steel and Wire Company of Illinois and several independent companies, the plant came under the control of the American Steel and Wire Company of New Jersey, which in turn served as the


Cleveland cornerstone in the 1901 formation of the United States Steel Corporation. None of the site’s three blast furnaces built prior to 1901 remain today. Blown in July 1911, Furnace D was reported by Iron Age magazine as “one of the most modern and at the same time most completely equipped with safety appliances,” of its day. Intact but idle today, Furnace D represents one of the early experiments in thin-lined furnace construction. The furnace, 95 feet high and 23 feet in diameter, was built with a one-inch rolled steel shell. The Furnace D designers solved the problem of leakage through the rivet holes by connecting the water-cooling troughs to the shell by drilling and tapping holes so that the troughs could be fastened by means of cap screws instead of drilling through the shell. The designers also paid close attention to safety features by providing three paths against material falling from the skip hoists, and constructing bridges over the plant’s railway tracks. The furnace hearth has been enlarged form 16 inches to 22.5 inches, and the original blowing engines have been replaced.

In 1908 Wellman-Seaver-Morgan Company designed and installed a modern ore dock consisting of two remaining Hulett automatic ore unloaders, with 10-ton capacity buckets and a 10-ton capacity ore handling bridge. Unloading ore for storage or direct shipment to the Newburgh blast furnace at the rate of 250 tons per hour, the Huletts made the Brownhoist and McMyler ore unloaders’ capacities seem “scarcely worthwhile” and these older machines were eventually dismantled. The use of tractor scrapers to distribute ore in the yard replaced the 10-ton ore-handling bridge with no longer remains. Early remaining structures with no original equipment are the blowing-engine house, 1901; scalehouse,1908: main office, 1921; boiler-house, 1927; pumphouse, 1927; In 1936 the Newburgh steelworks closed and left Central Furnaces with no local U.S. Steel operation to utilize its blast furnace products. Today the iron is either cast into pigs or is shipped hot to a local ingot-making foundry.

[“The Latest Thin-Lined Blast Furnace,” Iron Age 89 (1 February 1912): 287-292; William R. Prendry, History of the Cleveland District of the American Steel & Wire Co., (Cleveland, 1936), pp 50-55; Walter G. Stephan, “A 1908 Iron Ore Handling Plant: The New Hulett Machines at Central Furnaces, Cleveland, Ohio,” Iron Age 82 (8 October 1908): 985-987.]

4300 East 49th Street Cuyahoga Heights
Cuyahoga Heights
Cleveland South

In 1907, needing land to expand its Cleveland wire mill operations, the American Steel and Wire Company, a division of the U.S. Steel Corporation, purchased a 70-acre site south of Harvard Avenue in Cuyahoga Heights. The wire mill, put into operation in 1908, consisted of ninety-six 22-inch blocks. The plant also operated a bale tie department and strip mill. By the 1920s the Cuyahoga works was one


of the largest wire mills in the United States. Started in 1909 the cold rolling department was the largest in the world by the 1920s. Several of the original plant buildings remain. The 1,450-foot brick and steel frame hot-strip mill building contains the oldest remaining machinery, a 1927 fifteen-stand Morgan hot strip mill. The plant’s operation today consists of rod and wire manufacture as well as cold rolling and tie manufacture.

[Alburn, This Cleveland, 1: 557-558; Prendy, American Steel and Wire, pp 68-72].

(Republic Steel Corporation)
3100 East 45th Street
Cleveland South

In 1910-1912 the Corrigan, McKinney and Company, iron and ore merchants, built a blast furnace plant with two stacks along the Cuyahoga River to produce merchant pig iron under the name of the River Furnace Company. From this start the Corrigan, McKinney and Company and its 1935 successor, the Republic Steel Corporation, expanded its operations to include an integrated steel-making plant. It is today among the largest basic steel-making plants in Ohio, covering 798 acres of the Cuyahoga River Valley. From 1913 to 1916, Corrigan, McKinney and Company built a seventeen-building steel plant as well as two additional blast furnaces and coke plant. H.T. Harrison, of Corrigan, McKinney and Company, and the Engineering Department designed the entire facility.

The original plant contained a 40-inch reversing blooming mill, a 21-inch four-stand, and 18-inch six-stand, continuous sheet bar and billet mill, all of which have been replaced. The brick, steel, and concrete blooming-mill building, 95 feet by 700 feet, remains. The Mesta Twin-tandem compound single-lever-control-reversing-engine, with two cylinders of 47-inch bore and two cylinders of 76-inch bore, a 60-inch stroke, a rated capacity of 35,000 horsepower, drove the original 40-inch reversing blooming mill. The Mesta was a duplicate of an earlier engine installed at the Youngstown Sheet and Tube Company and is the only one of three ever built that is still in operation.

The 1916 coke plant included 204 Kopper ovens with 12.5-ton capacities. The coke plant’s four oven batteries have been entirely replaced and the only remaining equipment is a Brownhoist coal handling bridge with a 200-foot span. All twelve original open-hearth furnaces have been replaced; the plant presently operates primarily basic oxygen furnaces. When completed in 1916 the blast furnace plant included four blast furnaces, all of which have been entirely replaced. The blast furnace ore dock still operates three original Hulett automatic unloaders (1910-1911) with 10-ton bucket capacities and one of the two 1916 Brownhoist Ore Bridges with a 175-foot span and a 10-ton capacity bucket. The brick, steel frame, and reinforced


Belt-Driven Machine Tools, (c. 1920) at Ferry Cap and Set Screw Company

Wellman-Seaver-Morgan Engineering Company 18-foot nine-inch Vertical Boring Mill, (1912)


Division Avenue Pumping Station, (1918), Two Vertical Triple Expansion Steam Engines Prior to Demolition.

Mesta Twin-Tandum Reversing Engine, (1913-1916) at Corrigan, McKinney and Company


concrete powerhouse, 76 feet by 408 feet by 127 feet, supplied power for practically the entire original plant. The original 832-hp Stirling Boilers with Green automatic condensing chain grate stokers and three 3,000-hp Mesta horizontal cross compound noncondensing engines. Many of the plant’s original buildings, as well as the mill buildings added in 1926-1928 remain intact. With the exception of a 1927 Morgan 10-inch Billet mill, no old mill equipment remains. There are several overhead traveling cranes installed from 1916 to 1927 in buildings with capacities from 15 to 30 tons. The four-story brick and reinforced concrete office building, 261 feet by 60 feet, was designed in 1924 by architects Walker and Weeks. The plant’s machine shop contains several lathes, grinders, presses, shears, bolt cutters, and hammers dating between 1916 and 1927. After 1937 the plant expanded and moved into adjacent land to the southwest along the river an included additional coke ovens, blast furnaces, ore-handling and mill plants.

[“The Corrigan, McKinney New Steel Plant,” Iron Age 100 (15 November 1917): 1180-1186; Republic Steel Corp., Cleveland District Plants, (Cleveland, 1937).]

(Jones and Laughlin)
3341 Jennings Road
Cleveland South

In 1873 Charles Otis obtained a license to use the Siemens open-hearth process in the United States. While several steel plants had experimented with open-hearth process, Otis’s plant was the first to produce steel exclusively through this method. In 1912, lacking the necessary space for expansion of its Lakeside Plant, the Otis Steel Company purchased a 330-acre site along the Cuyahoga River adjoining the blast furnace and coke plant operations of the Cleveland Furnace Company. In 1913-1914 the American Bridge Company designed and built the original brick and steel furnace-mill-annealing-shear-building, 765 feet by 420 feet, as well as eight other buildings, including a stock house, machine shop, smith shop, millwright office, turbine house, pumphouse, and powerhouse. In 1923, meeting the demands of a growing automotive industry, Otis built eight mills for rolling auto body and full finished sheets. The new mills occupied a 1320-foot by 200-foot row of connecting steel and brick buildings. The purchase of the Cleveland Furnace Company made the Otis Riverside plant a completely integrated steelworks.

In 1942 Jones and Laughlin Steel Corporation purchased the Otis Steel Company and initiated a vast expansion and modernization program. Most of the site’s early structures remain but are now used primarily for storage and maintenance shops. Furnaces and mills date from the 1950s and 1960s; none of the early steel production equipment or engines remain. A 1917 5-ton Alliance Traveling Crane remains in use in the original mill building. The only blast furnace or ore-handling equipment which remains after the ore


dock started receiving shipments from self-loader boats is the 1919 Hoover and Mason ore-handling bridge with 305-foot 4-inch span. In 1960 the coke plant was dismantled and the plant now receives coke from the Jones and Laughlin Pennsylvania coke facilities.

[Alburn, This Cleveland, 1: 548-552; Otis Steel Company, The Otis Steel Company: Cleveland, Ohio, (Cleveland, 1939).]

(Midwest Wire Company)
2800 Tennyson Avenue
Cleveland South

In 1881 on a thirteen-acre Tennyson Avenue site, the Eberhard Manufacturing Company started manufacturing a wide variety of carriage, wagon, and saddlery hardware. By 1890 the plant was the largest malleable-casting vehicle hardware plant in the United States. With the growth of the motor vehicle industry, Eberhard began manufacturing bus and truck hardware and, for a time, malleable-casting spoke wheels for trucks, busses, and passenger cars. In 1959, having ceased its foundry and molding operation, Eberhard leased part of its plant to the Midwest Wire Company. Midwest occupies the entire plant in 1974. The oldest remaining building is the boiler-engine house (1885) which has no original equipment. The two connecting molding buildings, 620 feet by 70 feet, 380 feet by 70 feet, were constructed in the early 1890s. In 1897 Knox and Eliot, architects of Cleveland’s Rockefeller Building, designed the three-story brick and steel warehouse, 60 feet by 170 feet and in 1898 they designed the two-story office building, 55 feet by 90 feet. The one-story foundry building, 70 feet by 200 feet on East 90th Street was constructed in 1901. Most of the annealing, rolling mill, and stock complex was constructed between 1895 and 1910. None of the early foundry, milling or annealing equipment remains today. The Midwest Wire Company operates one Morgan-Conner Multiple Wire Drawing Machine constructed in 1927.

[The Industries of Cleveland, (Cleveland, 1888), p. 85.]

(Forest City Foundry Company)
2500 West 27th Street
Cleveland South

During the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, heavily dependent upon the only slightly behind Cleveland’s iron and steel industry, the foundry and machine shop industry represented Cleveland’s second largest industry. In 1888 the Walworth Run Foundry Company started operations on West 27th Street, making light gray iron castings for registers, furnaces, and stoves. In 1928 the company merged with another Cleveland foundry, the Forest City Foundry Company. Today the foundry continues to operate on the same site, one of the oldest Cleveland foundries, and one of the


few remaining jobbing iron foundries. A remaining brick and steel portion of the foundry was built in 1897. In 1907-1908 the Kaufman Arch Company designed the four-story brick and reinforced concrete machine shot, 170 feet by 56 feet, along West 27th Street. The Foundry’s two cupola furnaces date from the 1940s and no early machine tool or boiler equipment remains.

[Cleveland: Some Features of the Commerce of the City, (Cleveland, 1917), p. 46, 55.]


2685-2751 East 79th Street
Cleveland South

During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the manufacture of iron and steel products was Cleveland’s second largest industry in terms of dollar value and manpower employed. In 1878, seeking a closer supply of raw materials and a more favorable market, James H. Van Dorn moved his six-year old ornamental wrought iron fence business from Akron to Cleveland. In 1878 Van Dorn started manufacturing jail cells, known as “fences built indoors,” and soon the company became the largest jail manufacturer in the world. The Van Dorn Iron Works Company manufactured a diverse line of iron products which over the next fifty years included structural ironwork, iron lawn benches, weathervanes, electric streetcar parts and vestibules, bicycle parts, metal office furniture, Warner and Swasey telescope domes, truck frames and bodies, fenders and cabs, railroad equipment, mailboxes, and automotive parts. In the 1940s Van Dorn dropped most of its previous iron manufacture and began its present manufacturing of a diverse line of containers and plastic-injection molding machines. While none of the early ironworks machinery remains, manufacture continues in the old ironworks buildings. The one-story brick and iron machine shop with monitor windows, 210 feet by 80 feet, constructed in the early 1890s, and the three-story brick and iron office building, 32 feet by 66 feet, designed by Van Dorn in 1894, the steel structural shop, 290 feet by 120 feet, constructed in 1899 remain intact. In 1918 William Dunbar designed and built the brick and steel frame assembling shop, 120 feet by 85 feet, and a building, 120 feet by 120 feet, along Grand Avenue. In 1919-1920 Van Dorn again built along Grand Avenue, this time a three-story brick and reinforced concrete building designed by Ernest McGeorge and measuring 265 feet by 44 feet by 121 feet.

[Alburn, This Cleveland, 2: 786; Van Dorn Company, One Hundred Years at Van Dorn, (Cleveland, 1972).]


1242 East 49th Street
Cleveland North

By designing and building the machines necessary to manufacture twist drills in the 1870s, Jacob D. Cox, C. C. Newton, and F. F. Prentis pioneered the Cleveland manufacture of machine tools. Organized in 1876, the Cleveland Twist Drill Company is to day the world’s largest manufacturer of twist drills. The Company moved to its present location in 1888 and occupied buildings No. 1 and No. 2, which were replaced in 1937 with a five-story brick and reinforced concrete building designed by George S. Rider Company. Of the Company’s twenty building, the oldest remaining are No. 4 (1899) and Nos. 5, 6, and 7 (1906). These were built of masonry, steel and brick, and had wooden floors. Buildings No. 9 (1918), No. 10 (1918), and No. 16 (1907) are of brick and reinforced concrete.

Innovation in the manufacture of twist drills has come largely in the composition of the metals in the annealing or hardening process. Cleveland Twist Drill Company still operates many milling


and grinding machines from the early 1900s. Designed by both outside companies and Cleveland Twist Drill Engineers (CTD), these machines remain intact except for the conversions from belt-drive to individual electrical engines for each unit. The early equipment includes: J. D. Cox Jr. Flat Bed Milling Machine, c. 1900; No. 3 Brown and Sharpe Internal Grinder, 1905; CTD Speed Lathe Point Machine, 1905; Whitney Hand Milling Machine, 1905; New Milling Machine, 1905; CTD No. 2 Duplex Milling Machine, 1905; CTD No. 1 Milling Machine, 1905; Whitney Hand Milling Machine, 1905; Cox and Prentis Company Milling Machine, 1905; CTD Hand Straightening Press, 1906; CTD .5 Milling Machine (flutes and wheel clear at the same time, a major innovation), 1909; No. 0 Brown and Sharpe Milling Machine, 1910; CTD Bench Grinder, 1913; Chicago Speed Lathe Reamer, 1916; CTD Straightening Machine, 1917; CTD Duplex Milling Machine, 1918; No. 2 Brown and Sharpe Milling Machine, 1919; Leland Gifford Multiple Drill Press, 1919; Leland Gifford Five-Spindle Drill Press, 1920; No. 1 Brown and Sharpe Milling Machine, 1920; Kearney and Trecker Milling Machine, 1920. The Company’s rod-drawing, cutting and stock-finishing work is relocated in the Cleveland Twist Drill Company’s Kentucky works.

[Alburn, This Cleveland, 2: 782; Jacob D. Cox, Sr., Building an American Industry: The Story of the Cleveland Twist Drill Company, (Cleveland, 1951); Rose, Cleveland, pp. 408-409, 935.]

2151 Scranton Avenue
Cleveland South

Taking advantage of the raw material supplied by Cleveland’s iron and steel industry and serving local manufacturers and western markets, Cleveland’s bolt and nut industry established the city as a major bolt and nut center during the nineteenth century. A large number of bolt and nut manufacturers operated in factories in the Cuyahoga River Flats and especially in the area bounded by Carter and Scranton Avenues. The Ferry Cap and Set Screw Company is the only bolt and nut manufacturer remaining in this area. In 1907 Thomas Ferry built a two-story brick building, 40 feet by 150 feet, on Scranton Avenue. In 1909 a third story was added. Ferry, who manufactured specialty screws and fasteners, had built across the street from one of the Cleveland’ largest bolt and nut factories, Lamson and Sessions. I. P. Lamson served as the first president of Ferry Cap and Set Screw Company. The original tow-story building now serves as the center of a greatly expanded plant. In 1914-1915 a three-story building, 176 feet by 40 feet, of brick mill construction was added. In 1919 two three-story brick, wood beam, and steel additions, designed by Ernest McGeorge, were added.

Still Manufacturing a specialty line of fasteners. Ferry Today uses several machines which predate 1930. Some of the equipment lines are belt-driven from a central power source. Equipment installed between 1907 and 1930 and still in use includes eight Detroit Machine


and Tool Company Five-spindle drill presses, seven Chas G. Allen Company multiple-spindle drill presses, six Chas. G. Allen single-spindle drill presses, five Cook Company shaver and slaughter machines, five economy shavers, three 3/8-inch Spider feed machines, two ½-inch drum hopper machines, two American Gas Company rotary carburizer furnaces, two A. P. Schraner Company spotters, two Garvin tappers, a No. 1 Bristol miller, a ¾-inch chain drive trimmer, a single-spindle tapper, and a 1923 Waterbury-Farrel Company horizontal screw-thread rolling machine.

[Cleveland: Some Features of the Commerce of the City, (Cleveland, 1917), p.46.]

(Federal Steel and Wire Company)
Cleveland South

Upson Nut Company was a major bolt and nut manufacturing center during the late nineteenth century. In 1893 Cleveland’s production of bolts and nuts surpassed all other American cities. In 1905 the Upson Nut Company was America’s leading manufacturer of bolts and nuts. Upson originated as the Cleveland Nut Company, a partnership established in 1872 between the Union Nut Company of Unionville, Connecticut, the Aetna Nut Company of Southington, Connecticut, and the Lamson and Sessions company of Cleveland. In 1883 the company name change to the Upson Nut Company. Manufacturing a wide variety of cold and hot pressed and forged nuts, bolts, and washers for carriages, machines, plows, and tires, stoves, cutlery, and carriage hardware, the company continued operating on its Scranton Avenue site and in the adjoining plant purchased from the Lamson and Sessions Company. In 1910, absorbing the operations of some Scranton Avenue Carter Avenue neighbors, Upson operated a completely integrated steel works. The Cleveland Iron Company operated a pig iron and blast furnace operation on Carter Road which started in 1870. The facility became the River Furnace plant of Pickands-Mather and Company, and in 1910 was owned and used as the ore-handling and blast furnace section of the Upson Nut Company.

In 1909 Upson purchased the site of the Maher and Brayton Company, a car wheel foundry which had operated on Carter Road since 1880. In 1910 Upson constructed the 1,200-foot by 135-foot connecting line of steel frame and brick buildings housing five open-hearth furnaces, a bar mill, and a blooming mill. This building’s steel production was supplied with iron from the recently acquired riverside ore-handling and blast furnace facility. The steel was in turn used in the manufacture of Upson nuts and bolts. In 1912-1913 Anton Burchard designed the six-story brick and reinforced concrete office building, 105 feet two-inches by 106 feet ten-inches and the one-story brick and steel forge shop, 630 feet by 174 feet. In 1920 the Bourne-Fuller Co. purchased the Upson Nut Company and the Union Rolling Mills Company. Between 1924 and 1929 Bourne-Fuller Company added seven four- and five-story buildings designed by H. K. Furgeson Company on line with


the 1913 forge shop. In 1930 Republic Steel Company purchased the Bourne-Fuller Company. After 1935, when Republic’s Cleveland properties included the McKinney Steel Company, the Upson plant served as the Republic Bolt and Nut Division. The blast furnace, ore docks, and open-hearth plant were dismantled. In 1973 Federal Steel and Wire Company purchased the Bolt and Nut Division and sold all of the bolt and nut manufacturing equipment. Most of the buildings are vacant. A 1910 Morgan 11-inch bar mill and several Morgan Company and Alliance Company overhead traveling cranes dating from 1910 to 1913 with 5-15 ton capacities remain.

[Civil Engineers’ Club of Cleveland, Visitors’ Directory to the Engineering Works and Industries of Cleveland, Ohio (Cleveland, 1893), pp. 39, 65-66; W. R. Wilbur, History of the Bolt and Nut Industry of America, (Cleveland, 1905), pp. 172-177.]


Peerless Motor Car Company (1906)

Peerless Motor Car Company (1906)


American Steel and Wire Company: Central Furnace Plant, (1911)

National Carbon Company, (1893)

Corrigan, McKinney Company, (1910)