Corrigan-McKinney rose from the valley much further south from the Flats, and its presence still dominates the broad expanse along the Cuyahoga. Founded by James Corrigan, Jr. , thousands of trains must have rumbled up from the lake over the last century filled with taconite and limestone to feed the steel mill’s hungry furnaces. Note the river of slag flowing out of the blast furnace above.
Corrigan-McKinney was acquired by Republic Steel in 1935, but since these historic photographs were taken after that date, the company must have kept its name for a while after the acquisition. Today, the complex is owned by Cleveland-Cliffs. To say that the current steel mill and its two blast furnaces, now largely hidden behind shell-like buildings looks like something out of Dante Alighieri’s Inferno is an understatement. The two flares are burning off excess gas produced in the blast furnaces. A nasty white haze from the limestone used in the blast furnaces to forge the steel hangs over the whole valley, and the stench, like brimstone, is horrific. I only rolled my windows down for short periods of time to snap these photographs.
The photograph below, despite the Library of Congress’s insistence, is not from 1968, but probably from the 1930s, if the automobiles are any indication. Note the Great Lakes freighter, which has worked its way all the way up the Cuyahoga River. The two blast furnaces’ steady diet of taconite pellets, limestone and coal are all heaped in piles in front of the mill, no doubt dumped there recently by trains or freighter.
I’ve seen the railcars below over at Granite City Steel crossing the road in front of me; the sludge-covered tanks are filled with molten steel and then are hauled off to the strip mills. The scene below looks like something out of a science fiction movie, but it is right here on Planet Earth.
Blooming is the process after the blast furnace where the steel moves along its way and begins to be formed into strips or rods.
Look at that monster below! All I can think is asbestos! (St. Louis Patina legal department: The author and board of directors of St. Louis Patina make no claim that there is still asbestos present at this steel mill.)
Back to the present day, and I drove by more of the hulking buildings that make up the more modern steel mill.
I was actually surprised Dille Avenue, which still passes by the mill, is still open to the public, but I suppose there is some traffic that uses it to cross the valley.
I couldn’t help but think: what is it like to live in the neighborhoods around here? There is such a stench, and that cloud of limestone dust in the air just sort of creeped me out. I’ll probably end up getting a cease and desist letter for saying this, but I don’t think it’s a good idea to have this steel mill in the middle of a low-income neighborhood like this.
Off in the distance is this huge building. I am not sure what it is.
It may be a power plant that provides the huge amount of electricity needed to power the huge furnaces in the steel mill.
There are more bascule bridges up this way, relics of the large number of rail lines needed to haul all of the raw materials to the mill.