Monday, July 18, 2016

Republic Steel Bolt & Nut Division Part II

As I mentioned in the previous post, there is little information available on the internet about the Bolt & Nut plant. Here is an example of how to date an undated photo based on what you know about other things in the photo or not in the photo.

The photo below is of the Nut & Bolt plant and is one of the few full plant shots I have found on the internet. It is undated but it was taken from the Terminal Tower so it has to be after 1930. DK Yard is clearly visible from the rolling lift bridge in the lower right corner through to the left side of the photo. The Carter Road lift bridge, which should be sitting adjacent to and on this side of the railroad bridge, has not been built yet so the photo is definitely prior to 1939. The 5 open hearth furnaces are the 5 tall thin stacks attached to the large building in left center and spaced wider than any of the others. Since this is well before any environmental emission regulations, I would expect the open hearth stacks to be spewing smoke. The steelworker's labor union conducted a strike in 1937 which became known as the Little Steel Strike of 1937. This plant was impacted heavily by that strike until World War II in 1942 when the strike ended (unsuccessfully for the labor union) and operations resumed again for the war effort. Only minimal operations were conducted by "scab" workers during the strike, so that could explain why the open hearths appear to be shut down. So, my best guess on this photo is sometime in the 1937-1939 time frame.

Photo: From the Cuyahoga County Engineer's Photography Collection, Cleveland Memory Project.

This is pretty much all I have found reference the plant. It traces its beginnings back to 1872 as the Cleveland Nut Company. It became Upson Nut Company in 1883 after some mergers with other companies in Cleveland and also in Connecticut. Upson purchased some of the land surrounding the plant including an ore unloading dock and also a pig iron and blast furnace from the Cleveland Iron Company which was next to the plant on Carter Road. By 1905 Upson Nut was America's leading nut & bolt manufacturer. In 1910 Upson constructed the 1200' x 135' building which housed the 5 open hearth furnaces, meaning that now Upson Nut had its own fully integrated steel mill and bolt & nut factory all in one place. In the 1920's the rest of the factory buildings were constructed and the photo above represents the facility at the height of its existence. In 1930, Republic Steel purchased Upson Nut & Bolt and it became the Republic Steel Bolt & Nut Division. The facility operated until the 1960's when competition from foreign producers, higher wages, and environmental regulations caused Republic Steel to start the slippery slope downward. The plant shut down most operations by 1973. In 1984 when Republic Steel merged with Jones & Laughlin Steel to become LTV, the property was abandoned. In 1989, some of the vacant buildings caught fire and the entire facility was razed in the several years following that. (UPDATE/CORRECTION: In 1973, Federal Steel and Wire purchased the Upson Nut & Bolt property from Republic Steel during a period where Republic was reorganizing and consolidating operations in the Cleveland area. Federal Steel and Wire apparently never operated the plant, and began selling off all the bolt & nut manufacturing equipment and the plant was vacated. The 1984 merger between Republic and J&L to form LTV was therefore irrelevant for the Upson plant because Republic had sold off the property over a decade before. In April 1990, some of the abandoned buildings caught fire and the facility was razed shortly thereafter.)

On my layout, the Bolt & Nut plant will be operating at full capacity in the mid-1950's/1960's.


  1. Mr. Leslie,

    Your information seems to be a little off. In 1973, Republic Steel sold off the Nut and Bolt Division to the Alpert family, which operated the plant as Federal Steel and Wire Corp. The plat was torn down, as you have said, and the property sold off to Forest City Enterprises.

    Mark J. Adamcik

  2. Thank you for the information. I mentioned several times that there is little information on the plant available on the internet and much of what I did find is not accurate or is conflicting. And finally, this is for model railroading purposes and is in no way considered a scholarly historical reference. That being said, I do not want to hang erroneous information on my blog so I have made a few corrections to the body based on some further research, which are in bold text.

    As an example, when I search for Federal Steel and Wire Corp, even the Library of Congress has conflicting information. They have photos under "Federal Steel and Wire Corp" but what they show in the photos is the Central Furnaces and American Steel and Wire which was over off Broadway Ave around E 25 St. I do not know the relationship between American Steel and Wire and Federal Steel and Wire, whether they were separate entities or the same or if it was just a naming error.

    I did discover that the fire in the abandoned nut & bolt factory buildings was in April 1990, not 1989.

    I have not attempted to make any visits to libraries or archives in the Cleveland area to try to find more info, although I am certainly considering visiting the Western Reserve Historical Society someday in the near future because they have more photographs and info that is not available online.


  3. When i worked at b &
    N from 1963 to 1966 it was a thriving place
    I worked in the office on the 5th the or ,,6th floor
    At that time they had a single elevator in the office and they had an operator. Bob rostance was the office manager. While the I filled in for a scheduler and had to go onto the floor and order tons if steel for the boltmakers, and had to have it drawn or annealed to keep the machines supplied.b when a train would come into the mill to be loaded with 200 lb kegs, you couldn't see the train because the mill was so big. Too bad I didn't take pictures. Don pesta