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Central Furnace Works: 1908

Cleveland circa 1908. "Central Furnace Works." Foundry of the American Steel & Wire Co. on the Cuyahoga River. 8x10 glass negative. View full size.

Cleveland circa 1908. "Central Furnace Works." Foundry of the American Steel & Wire Co. on the Cuyahoga River. 8x10 glass negative. View full size.


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American Steel & Wire co.

A link to a diagram of the facility: American Steel & Wire Company, Central Furnaces & Docks, General Plan of Works Showing Trestle

How the area looks today, not much left! Birdseye view from Bing maps:

Just another piece of vanished history.

The USS Central Furnaces plant was demolished in early 1984; by April only the 2 stripped and gutted furnaces themselves were still standing. Just about everything else, including the last 2 surviving 10-ton capacity Hulett unloaders, was gone or in pieces.

This plant was the first major iron/steel producing plant to be demolished as a whole within the industrial flats of Cleveland, a sign of things to come. The large furnace at the north end of the plant, "A" furnace, was built in 1953-54 by the McKee company, it being the second last blast furnace to be built in Cleveland.

The smaller furnace to the south was built in 1911. The plant was shut down in September 1978 in part due to EPA issues and declining business, among other reasons. I read that this plant originally started at this site in 1881, but the earliest photographic evidence of the plant's existence that I have come across dates back to at least 1901. In addition to unloading ore for its own use, this small plant unloaded ore and limestone for other local blast furnaces that were located on the east side of Cleveland just north of the intersection of what is now Broadway and Harvard Avenues, along the old Cleveland & Pittsburgh line of the Pennsy road. The location of these obscure blast furnaces was known as Emma Furnace plant, according to an old city street map from 1905 that I saw at the Cleveland Public Library. The Central Furnace plant unloaded the ore/stone and then railed the materials to Emma via the Newburgh & South Shore railroad. I read that rail service to the Emma furnaces was discontinued in the early 1930s, which indicated that the Emma plant was shut down at least in part by the Depression.

I have never located any photos of the Emma furnaces but the literature and street map indicate that this plant existed. The 2 10-ton Huletts were built in 1908 at a brand new ore dock and storage yard that was located south of the Central Furnace plant, the Hulett dock being located between the Erie railroad right of way and Jefferson Avenue. These unloaders were equipped with weighing hoppers for loading ore into trains and a complete description of these Huletts can be found in The Iron Age, October 1908. A former neighbor who worked with the demolition crew that tore down the plant told me that the Huletts were detonated(!) with charges but that the 2 blast furnaces were pulled down by cables attached to D-9 or similar type of bulldozers, after the furnaces' foundations had been torn or jackhammered away. Most other Hulett demolitions usually began by cutting large pieces off the machines or by knocking the trolleys off the main girders of the bases.

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