By DANNY RESTIVO
Clayton Ruminski said his interest in industrial history began when he was a child living on Spring Street in Hubbard.
“We used to ride four-wheelers behind my house, and there were remnants from the old furnace that used to be there,” said Ruminski. “I was always really curious about it.”
Ruminski, a graduate student in history at Youngstown State University, is presenting “Iron Valley: A Century of Change at the Hubbard Furnace” at the Youngstown Historical Center of Industry and Labor. Ruminski’s exhibit features 32 rare photos of the Hubbard blast furnace that operated from the 1870s to the 1960s.
While most people think Youngstown is synonymous with steel production, Ruminski said the Hubbard furnace’s production of iron in steel country made it unique for the area.
“Around the turn of the century, most people stopped making iron and turned to steel,” said Ruminski. “Steel could be mass produced, it was cheaper, and it was stronger than iron. You can do more with steel than with iron.”
Ruminski said he’s still trying to research why the Hubbard furnaces continued to create iron while steel production was more lucrative. He said he thinks stubbornness and the cost of technology played a role. Whatever the reason, Ruminski said people should take note of the area’s iron history.
“This used to be such a big part of our area, and it shouldn’t be forgotten,” said Ruminski, who said the furnace employed about 400 people in its peak production years in the early 1900s.
Bill and Debbie Bancroft, both of Hubbard, visited the exhibit Thursday night. The couple said they were young but recall when the steel industry began to leave the area. They were not familiar with the local furnaces that produced iron, however.
“This is pretty interesting because I never knew this stuff was in our city,” said Bill Bancroft. “I never realized how big a part of the community it was either.”
The Hubbard furnace, which was located along Little Yankee Creek near state Route 7, was bought by Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. during World War I. Outdated equipment prompted the company to close the furnace in 1960.
Ruminski said he gathered more than 300 photos from various people, historical agencies and The Vindicator archives during his three years of research. He said he’s still searching for more photos from Hubbard and other areas with iron furnaces in the area. He said anyone willing to share photos can contact the Youngstown Historical Center of Industry and Labor at 330-941-1314.
IF YOU GO: Exhibit hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday through Friday and noon to 4 p.m. Saturday throughout April.