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Wade Klaffer posted
Mclouth Steel Trenton Mi in the late 50’s
This plant was once the fourth-largest steel producer in the USA. It was closed by 2005 because this article has interior photos taken by "urban explorers." McLouth Steel was founded in 1934 with a strip mill using slabs from other firms. He bought a couple of electric furnaces. But in the 1950s the scrap steel market slowed. (All of WWII surplus had been cut up?) So he started making his own steel using the first BOF in a America, and the fourth worldwide. (The BOF was developed in Austria.) In 1964 he became the first American integrated producer to base all of his production on continuous casting. He filed for bankruptcy in 1981. Chinese exports must have been a big issue for the steel industry because this plant did not fail in the 1980s because it was slow to adopt new technologies. In fact, he was bleeding edge. The reference that was cited: "The Technology Century, the Engineering Society of Detroit, edited by Mike Davis" From that reference, we also learn: "It also talks of the dawn of Detroit steel making.... In 1856, on the shore of the Detroit River across from Belle Isle, Dr. George B. Russell built the first American iron blast furnace west of Pittsburg. It operated ‘til 1905. As a matter of fact, the first steel produced in America by the Bessemer process was made by Dr. Eber Brock Ward’s Eureka Iron Company at Wyandotte, Michigan in 1864. (You may recognize the name of modern-day Eureka Road)." [nailhed1] A map of the plant
This was from his second visit, which was legal. Note the line of synchronous electric motors along the right side. I presume these motors are part of the 6-stand 60" hot strip rolling mill that was installed in 1954.
This is one of the first three 60-ton BOP furnaces that were installed in 1954. These were the first installed in North America. [nailhed2]
Wikimedia, License: CC BY-SA, Transkohr
Of course the gear and the shaft size is the first thing that caught my eye. But then I noticed the control panel in the left background. After the 1981 bankruptcy, the employees took over 85% of the ownership. I guess they were not interested in automating the controls with computers. Or did they piggyback computer monitoring on top of the old wiring?
Computer control was one of the many technologies that McLouth pioneered.The year 1958 marked even more expansions and upgrades for the McLouth Trenton mill. The Number Two blast furnace was put online, as well as two more 110-ton basic oxygen furnace vessels and two Rust Furnace Co. slab reheat furnaces to handle stainless steel. A few years later another 110-ton basic oxygen furnace vessel was added.
The Ironmaking and Steelmaking article notes that McLouth pioneered the first use of computer control in steelmaking:Online computer control of steel making processes became a reality with the first use of computers on a hot strip mill in 1962. McLouth Steel used a General Electric 312 computer for gauge control on the finishing train of a semi-continuous mill. The aim was to set up the initial roll gap and then establish correct gauge as soon as the head end of the strip emerged onto the runout table.[nailhed2]I recommend looking at the photos in nailhed1 and nailhed2 and reading the history in nailhed2. Nailhed's coverage is so good that I'm not even going to bother to look at the results of some Google Searchs because they are full of the financial and environmental issues of the 21st Century.
I used Google Earth to find the images that show a change in the 21st Century.
If it is shut down in Mar 1999, it was rather recent because it still has piles of raw materials.
Goggle Earth, Mar 1999
It has been shutdown because there are no piles of raw materials.
Last image with the blast furnaces.
The BFs have been torn down.
The remaining buildings stood for more than a decade.
But they also are now going away.
A Jun 2021 Satellite image still had some buildings left.
This article first appeared on towns-and-nature.blogspot.com
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