History lost: Vast Valley steel mill under demolition


In August 1913, a writer described the opening of the $2 million Trumbull Steel Co. south of downtown Warren as “a very important change in the whole character of this city.”

The new mill – which in 1929 would become Republic Steel, then decades later WCI, then several other companies – occupied 70 acres along the banks of the Mahoning River.

Today, the mill occupies about 1,100 acres, but it doesn’t produce steel anymore — and less and less of the mill is there every day as demolition of millions of square feet of factory buildings progresses.

The current owner, BDM Warren Steel Holdings, bought the mill in August 2012 out of bankruptcy for $17 million and attempted to find a new operator. But a year later, BDM filed paperwork describing the demolition of nearly all of the complex.

The mill last operated as RG Steel, but it started to lay off its workforce in June 2012, the same month it filed for bankruptcy. It had about 1,200 employees.

By the end of 2015, most of the mill will be gone, according to a time line that BDM gave to Howland Township officials. It estimates that demolition completion will be at the end of August 2016.

That blast furnace — described in the 1950s as one of the largest in the world — has the distinction of being the last blast furnace in the Mahoning Valley, where there once were scores of them.

The BDM time line doesn’t mention the demolition of the blast furnace.

The size of the facility alone is enough to make people understand what an important force the mill has been over the decades: It occupies almost 1 square mile each of Howland and Warren townships — or about 4 percent of the land mass of each township. One small corner of the mill is within the Warren city limits.

The city of Warren made money by selling millions of gallons of water to the mill every day and processing the plant’s wastewater, and the community benefitted from the 5,000 jobs it used to have. In 1964, the payroll was $41 million.

Debbie Murphy of Vienna, who worked at the blast furnace for 16 years, said the mill also was important to the families who relied on it for their livelihood.

Read more about the importance of this facility to Valley residents in Sunday's Vindicator or on Vindy.com.

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