Entering just about any city when I was growing up, one could see smoke pouring from tall stacks at the major industries.
Now that's not the case. Although the cleaner air is a good thing, the fact that many of those factories are not producing goods anymore is not.
Hundreds of industries have disappeared from Ohio's landscape, and thousands nationwide. The closing of those plants, coupled with modern technology, has reduced manufacturing jobs considerably.
Many of the old factories have been torn down, while many of those still standing are either abandoned and rotting away, or have been redeveloped and converted into facilities housing smaller businesses.
I recently got thinking about all the now defunct plants that thrived when I was growing up, and those I've seen and learned the history of during road trips to various places.
Major cities such as Pittsburgh and Youngstown have seen the steel industry go by the wayside. Huge plants operated by Youngstown Sheet & Tube, Republic Steel and U.S. Steel were among the casualties in Youngstown, which has seen its population drop by more than half since 1970.
Cleveland, Lorain, Canton and Massillon have seen many major steelmaking facilities close, too.
In my native Tuscarawas County, the clay industry -- which once boasted 18 plants countywide -- is gone except for Belden Brick's plants in Sugarcreek and Superior Clay's Uhrichsville plant.
Once thriving glass plants in Cambridge, Bellaire, Lancaster, Tiffin and Moundsville, W.Va. and tire-making plants in Akron are gone. East Liverpool and Zanesville still produce some pottery, but not like when they were major pottery centers.
In recent years, three once thriving plants in Kent have been demolished -- Gougler, RB&W and Ametek Lamb. The iconic Star of the West flour mill closed a few months ago.
Over in Ravenna, two historic manufacturing complexes highlight the landscape just south of downtown -- the defunct Cleveland Worsted Mills and Oak Rubber.
TUSKY COUNTY SITES
Growing up in Tuscarawas County, I remember my dad talking about the huge Royal Sewer Pipe Works north of Uhrichsville. Most of it was torn down before my time, but I've gone by the site dozens of times and the four-lane Route 250 now runs through it.
I recall when the Robinson-Graves clay plant was operating on Route 36 just west of Uhrichsville. Some of the other clay plants in the county were Universal, Federal and Larson. Former Aurora Mayor Lynn McGill told me he worked at one of the Federal plants in Mineral City in his younger days.
Reeves Manufacturing was a longtime major steel plant in Dover. For many years it was famous for making galvanized trash cans. It ceased business several years ago, but the buildings still stand.
Dover once had an American Sheet & Tin Plate Co. plant, which is gone. Another of the company's plants was in my hometown of New Philadelphia, and it's still there, now housing the Gradall hydraulic excavator plant. My cousin worked there for a while when it was operated by Warner & Swasey.
The Joy Manufacturing plant, where my family's longtime neighbor Lorin Kail worked for more than 35 years, closed three years ago after being operated by Howden Buffalo. It originally was the Ladel Conveyor & Manufacturing Co. and made large industrial/mine ventilation fans.
Some of the other factories I remember in Tusky County which no longer exist were Shenango Penn Mold in Dover, IF Manufacturing in New Philly, Heller Files in Newcomerstown, Alsco Anaconda in Gnadenhutten and what my dad always referred to as "the sweeper works" (it made vacuum cleaners) in New Philly.
The New Philadelphia Brewing Co. went out of business in 1949. It was on the Southside, where I grew up, and a good friend of mine's dad worked there for a short time. It was razed when the Route 250 bypass was built in the mid 1960s.
Greer Steel in Dover and the Timken Co. roller bearing plant in New Philly are still in operation.
MORE FAMOUS SITES
I've been familiar with Canton for as long as I can remember, and there were many famous manufacturing facilities there. The Timken Co. has been there since 1902, and the Harrison Avenue plant has existed for many of those years.
My dad worked at the E.W. Bliss factory, which later became a Babcock & Wilcox plant. Bliss made large metal presses and B&W made fossil fuel-fired boilers. The plant once occupied four huge buildings, which were originally the Westinghouse Naval Ordnance Plant at the start of World War II.
My dad retired in 1977, and B&W closed the plant a few years later. The four buildings still stand, with smaller companies occupying them (Ohio Steel Slitters and ChemPower are two).
Other major Canton plants which are long gone include Hercules Motors Co., Dueber-Hampden Watch Co. (I-77 now runs through its former site), Diebold and the Harvard-Weber Dental Co.
The 26-acre Hercules site is being redeveloped. The Harvard building still stands, but I don't believe it is occupied.
The Hoover Co. ceased operations at its North Canton plant about five years ago, and that site is being redeveloped. Republic Steel's huge facility in Massillon is gone. My uncle worked there for a few years in the 1940s. Its headquarters building was razed a couple of years ago.
Some of the old C.M. Russell Co. buildings in Massillon still stand; others have been razed. Russell made steam-powered traction engines, which are still commonplace at antique power shows. I go by that site from time to time.
One summer during my college years I worked at U.S. Ceramic Tile Co.'s East Sparta plant, which was shuttered a half-dozen years or so ago, but the buildings still stand.
Among other still standing defunct plants which I've passed on my road trips are the Longaberger Co. in Hartville and Frazeysburg, Sharon Steel and Westinghouse Electric transformer site in Sharon, Pa. and Marion Power Shovel Co. in Marion.
Crews were finishing up demolition of the old Fostoria Glass complex in Moundsville, W.Va. the last time I was there. The former Weirton Steel plant in Weirton, W.Va. sprawls across the city, and still produces some steel products, but its old blast furnaces are idle.
There are few old-style blast furnaces left. A couple still exist and are tourist attractions at the Carrie Furnace complex in Pittsburgh.
The Bellaire Glass Co. site in the Ohio River town is now occupied by a Kroger grocery store and other retail shops. The Greenville, Pa. Steel Car Co. plant, which made rail cars, has been razed, as has been the Pullman-Standard Steel Car Co. in Butler, Pa.
I recently read that a closed steel plant with which I'm familiar is getting a new life under the name ACERO Junction. It is Mingo Junction's sprawling former Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel plant.
Mingo Junction, which is just south of Steubenville along the Ohio River, is where some scenes in "The Deer Hunter" movie were filmed. The Mingo Junction and Weirton steel plants once employed thousands of workers.
There are dozens of other old plants in towns I've visited, which I've looked up the history of as part of my road trips, but there's obviously too many to list here.
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