Blast furnace photograph   Save
Ohio Guide Collection
Description: Dated 1930-1943, this photograph shows a worker silhouetted against white-hot molten metal being poured from a blast furnace into a ladle. This could be one of any number of steel mills in Ohio. In the early nineteenth century, there were a number of furnaces in Ohio that processed iron. These small industries were made possible by local iron ore deposits in southern and eastern Ohio. In addition, some parts of Ohio also had coal deposits that could be used to fuel furnaces. Because of their proximity to the state's iron manufacturing, by the second half of the nineteenth century communities such as Cleveland, Akron, Canton, and Youngstown had begun to emerge as major industrial cities. Railroads also encouraged the growth of the iron industry. After the American Civil War (1861-1865), iron manufacturers in Ohio began to introduce new processes to refine iron ore. The resulting product was steel, which was much stronger and more versatile than iron. Because Ohio companies such as the Otis Steel Company were quick to adopt new technology, Ohio became the second largest producer of steel in the nation by the 1890s. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the rapid growth of some steel companies led to a wave of mergers that created big businesses like the United States Steel Company (U.S. Steel), Republic Iron and Steel Corporation, and Youngstown Steel and Tube Company. Very often, smaller companies that had produced either iron or steel since the early 1800s were taken over or driven out of business because they were unable to compete with the large corporations. The developments in the steel industry helped to encourage construction of large buildings, such as skyscrapers, as well as bridges and other projects. The automobile industry also contributed to the growth of the steel industry in the early decades of the twentieth century. This photograph is one of the many visual materials collected for use in the Ohio Guide. In 1935, President Franklin D. Roosevelt established the Works Progress Administration by executive order to create jobs for the large numbers of unemployed laborers, as well as artists, musicians, actors, and writers. The Federal Arts Program, a sector of the Works Progress Administration, included the Federal Writers’ Project, one of the primary goals of which was to complete the America Guide series, a series of guidebooks for each state which included state history, art, architecture, music, literature, and points of interest to the major cities and tours throughout the state. Work on the Ohio Guide began in 1935 with the publication of several pamphlets and brochures. The Reorganization Act of 1939 consolidated the Works Progress Administration and other agencies into the Federal Works Administration, and the Federal Writers’ Project became the Federal Writers’ Project in Ohio. The final product was published in 1940 and went through several editions. The Ohio Guide Collection consists of 4,769 photographs collected for use in Ohio Guide and other publications of the Federal Writers’ Project in Ohio from 1935-1939. View on Ohio Memory.
Image ID: SA1039AV_B07F07_011_1
Subjects: Industries--Ohio; Factories; Steel-works--Ohio--Pictorial works; Blast furnaces--United States; Works Progress Administration of Ohio (U.S.)
Places: Ohio