WARREN, Ohio (WKBN) – Part of Warren’s southeast side now looks a lot different, as the last remaining blast furnace in what was the Youngstown Steel District was torn down Sunday afternoon.
It happened around 12:30 p.m.
A few steelworkers who once worked in the furnace gathered to watch it come down. What stood for 96 years, helped win wars and build America took but a mere 10 seconds to fall.
“That’s a bad thing to see the last one go like that,” said Rick Rowlands, who runs Youngstown Steel Heritage — a company that collects pieces of the area’s industrial past.
At its peak, there were 27 blast furnaces — not in only Warren, but Youngstown, Sharon, Hubbard, Sharpsville, New Castle and Lowellville. Now there are none.
The Warren plant torn down Sunday has been through several owners in the past 20 years. It was first called the Trumbull Cliffs blast furnace in Warren, then Republic Steel and eventually RG Steel.
The plant shut down about five years ago.
When built in 1921, it was known as Trumbull Cliffs — the largest blast furnace in the country. For most of its life, it was part of Republic Steel, but changed ownership nine times.
“This is 150 years or better of industrial activity steel-making in the Valley,” Rowlands said. “One of the more iconic pieces of it are now gone.”
As a collector of Youngstown Steel Heritage, Rowlands would have liked pieces of the blast furnace for his collection. But he could never find the right person to get them.
The four stoves next to the blast furnace are still standing. One person Sunday said they’re loaded with asbestos, and may remain there, because it would not be cost-effective to take them down.
The blast furnace itself will be cut up and sold as scrap.
WKBN was told by more than one person Sunday that an effort was made to try and keep the demolition of the Warren blast furnace secret. Perhaps, that’s why it was done on a Sunday and only a few steelworkers showed up.