Weirton, West Virginia

Weirton, West Virginia is a town in a stretch of mill towns along the Ohio River on the Ohio and West Virginia border.  The town, and Weirton Steel itself, was created nearly from scratch by entrepreneur E.T Weir.  As E.T. Weir brought his grand vision of a steel making mecca on the Ohio River to reality, he brought with it massive growth, wealth, expansion, and success.  Weir transformed the valley where the town of Weirton sits today from a bucolic expanse of country to one of the nation’s most productive and well-known steel manufacturers in America.  Weirton Steel Company operated a massive and comprehensive production facility that sat on a huge piece of land along the Ohio River.  Their facility was unique because it housed every single component of steel production from coke production straight through to coil rolling and shipping by river, train, and truck.  Other companies that fit into already built towns or communities lacked the ability to build a town around the mill and so were forced to work with the space they had.  So in Youngstown, molten steel was formed in ladles and then poured into ingots to cool.  The ingots were loaded on train cars and transferred to Campbell, OH where the blooming mill formed the ingots into slabs.  Then the slabs were loaded back onto train cars and shipped back to Youngstown, OH to be formed into coils in the tandem mill.  Weirton had every step from coke making and the blast furnaces through coil rolling and eventually coil finishing all in one location.

Because Weirton was built around a steel mill facility, the early days of Weirton had nearly every single person in town on the company payroll.  Police department employees were Weirton Steel employees as were trash collectors, doctors, firefighters, construction contractors, etc.  The town grew from the needs of the steel making business – not the other way around.  Eventually Weirton became an incorporated city and had its own city government, but the unique way Weirton began paved the way for immense success as a steel producer.  And because of the incredible planning involved, Weirton Steel Co. lasted longer than most of the mills of those days until it eventually closed its doors for good in 2003 to steel making.  In the heyday, Weirton Steel Co. employed 12,000-14,000 people in the valley and today, with its one remaining finishing facility, it employs a total of about 850 people including those on salary and those in management.