Historic steel factory soon to disappear

GOING AWAY — Yorkville’s former Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel location is being demolished. The mill operated for more than a century to provide metal to various locations in the United States and was bought by CJ Betters Enterprises. -- Miranda Sebroski

YORKVILLE — A piece of history will soon be gone, as the former Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel facility in the village is being demolished.

The steel mill operated for more than a century and helped supply the nation with metal for various needs. The operation has been closed for a number of years and has stood dormant in the Jefferson County portion of the village.

The building was purchased by CJ Betters Enterprises, a management and leasing services company based in Aliquippa, Pa., that had plans to demolish the structure in 2017. The company said it wanted to to free up space in the village, but also wanted to create a safer area since the building was older and not meeting safety codes.

Representatives of CJ Betters Enterprises could not be reached for comment.

Yorkville Mayor Karen Vargo said that while village officials have been in contact with the owner, not much has been said about what is in store for the location.

“We haven’t heard much really. The owner has kept us abreast of his plans to tear down any parts of the plant that he did not intend to utilize,” Vargo said. “However, we do not know any definitive plans for the future use of the area.”

Other former Wheeling-Pitt mill sites also have shut down over the years, including those in Wheeling, Steubenville, Mingo Junction, Martins Ferry, Benwood and Beech Bottom. After closing mills in Wheeling and Benwood, the company continued operations at the other sites until 2006, when it was obtained by Esmark Inc. In 2008, Esmark sold the assets to the Russian firm Severstal, and in 2011 RG Steel acquired the remaining assets. That firm filed for bankruptcy a year later, leaving buildings vacant.

According to a 1956 edition of the Wheeling News-Register on file at the Ohio County Library, the Yorkville portion of then-Wheeling Steel was historically noted as the birthplace of cold reduced black plate for tinning, and the first tandem mill of its kind was installed there in 1928. It was a major producer of electrolytic and hot-dipped tinplate, black plate and terneplate. There was also a metal decorating plant for coating and lithographing the tin, terne and black plate. Two electrolytic tin plate lines produced tin plate at rates up to 1,000 feet per minute.