The Wheeling-Pittsburgh Mill, Ghost of Steubenville, Ohio

During its heyday in the 1940s and ’50s, Steubenville, Ohio was known as “little Chicago” for its teeming industry, bustling downtown and reputation for political corruption. But that was a lifetime ago, when the steel mills were running.

According to Wikipedia, the Steubenville area lost a greater percentage of its population between 1980 and 2000 than anywhere else in the country. More recently the region has been trying to market itself as a suburb of Pittsburgh, advertising the lower cost of doing business.

Youngstown photographer Tony Nicholas shot these photos of the city’s Wheeling-Pittsburgh Mill, which was closed in 2005. According to CoalCountyUSA, Severstal, owner of the plant and others in the Ohio Valley, said “Those plants just aren’t going to be coming back.”

Nicholas had this to say:

In the past year I met Rick Rowlands who started the Youngstown Steel Heritage Foundation.
He has a site in Youngstown were he is salvaging steel industry machines, etc. a fantastic place. He travels around the region gathering machines, train cars, anything used in the steel making process.

He has been working in Steubenville for a few years I believe, restoring equipment at the Wheeling-Pitt mill. I finally arranged a trip down there with him around a month ago. I spent 10 hours wondering around the mill, basically in awe of the place. It was beautiful and mysterious at the same time. There was so much personal stuff lying around it was as if they just shut it down and went home. I shot around 500 images and really need to go back and sink my teeth into the place.

Below is a small sampling:

Thanks so much to the talented Mr. Nicholas for sharing these photos with us! Stunning!

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