30th Anniversary of the Youngstown Historical Center of Industry and Labor
Posted June 14, 2022
Topics: Industry & Labor
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By Marcelle R. Wilson, Site Manager at Youngstown Historical Center of Industry and Labor

The Youngstown Historical Center of Industry and Labor (YHCIL) opened to the public in June of 1992 as a steadfast reminder of the area’s industrial heritage in wake of numerous factory closures.  As we celebrate our 30th anniversary this year we are planning several events such as a four-part speaker series, an open-house block party, and the digital debut of YHCIL: Thirty Years of Memory, Identity, and Community.  This digital exhibit created by Brooke Bobovnyik, former graduate assistant intern at YHCIL, chronicles the museum and its history.  As illustrated in the digital exhibit, the museum has expanded from its initial inception as a museum and archives to being an inclusive, learning laboratory where the community can meet, participate in events, lectures and hands-on activities, and learn about the past and present of Mahoning Valley’s labor history. This has led to a number of exciting partnerships that continue to push the museum forward.

One such partnership, coinciding with this year’s anniversary celebration is between Youngstown State University’s Excellence Training Center (ETC), Eastern Gateway Community College (EGCC), and the museum to develop a new exhibit centered around a model of a continuous caster manufacturing line that is housed at the museum.  ETC is a “one-of-a-kind workforce-education, innovation and research center focused on advanced manufacturing.”  Our partnership with instructors Carl Kovach (EGCC/ETC) and Jay Wargacki (YSU/ETC) allows ETC students the opportunity of experiential learning by working with YHCIL, Dr. John Liana on this new exhibit.  At the museum, students will be applying the skills and techniques learned in class on the working model by manufacturing any missing or broken parts, repairing the model, and helping to develop an interpretive display explaining the model’s process and function.

The model at the heart of this project is significant in its own way as it represents great advancements of the steel industry during the mid-20th century. Prior to its invention in the 1950s, steel-makers used the ingot casting method where a ladle of molten steel was poured into an ingot mold.  Once the steel solidified, it was removed, reheated and then processed into its final shape—billet, bloom or slab.  This process worked well but up to five percent of ingots were inferior, with cracks and deformations, and thus were scrapped.  The continuous caster, circa 1958, stream-lined the system.  The method enabled the molten steel to be poured and come out as a finished shape.  This was more efficient; it saved money and energy and was more precise with fewer errors and a higher quality end product.

This model was used to develop and build the continuous caster system that was used at LTV Steel, located in Cleveland.

This model was used to develop and build the continuous caster system that was used at LTV Steel, located in Cleveland.

LTV Steel Corporation of Cleveland, Ohio donated the caster model to the museum in March of 1991.  It was constructed in the 1970s and represents state-of-the-art technology of the time.  It is a large model, over 103” wide, 96” deep and 82.5” tall.  It sits upon a dozen or so small wooden tables and is secured to the tables by adhesive.  The model itself is composed of plastic and glued together, making moving it and restoring it a challenge.  You cannot simply snap it apart and put it back together; its age and condition would not tolerate such harsh treatment.  Additional consideration for ways to clean it, test its functions, and repair or replace missing/broken parts using additive and other manufacturing techniques will make this work challenging.

LTV began in Texas as Ling Electric Company in 1958.  It purchased Jones and Laughlin Corporation in 1968 thus entering the steel industry.  Four years later it purchased Temco Aircraft and Chance Vought Aircraft Corporations and changed its name to LTV.  Republic Steel was added to the company in 1984 making it the second largest steel manufacturer in the country.  The company, like many others, suffered from foreign competition and financial difficulties in the 1980s and it would declare chapter 11 bankruptcy twice.  Mittal Steel purchased LTV in 2002 and later merged into Arcelo-Mittal.  Cleveland-Cliffs purchased Arcelo-Mittal in 2020.

This project highlights the museum’s desire to create partnerships with community members, provide hands-on learning, and increase the knowledge about the steel industry.  As we progress with the work, we will post additional information on our social media pages.  To get a “sneak-peak” of this work-in-progress, visit us for Ohio Open Doors on Saturday, September 17 when we will allow the public to see our progress.

Side view of LTV Steel Corporation of Cleveland, Ohio model

Side view of LTV Steel Corporation of Cleveland, Ohio model

For more information on content mentioned here and upcoming events, please visit the Youngstown Historical Center of Industry and Labor’s website and digital archives found here.

Sources:

American Iron and Alloys LLC

https://www.versa-bar.com/AlloyInformation/ContinuousCastingProcess

Science Direct Continuous Casting

https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/engineering/continuous-casting

Investopedia

https://www.investopedia.com/terms/i/ingot.asp

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