Columbia Steel Corporation, Ironton, Utah

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The iron plant at Ironton was built in 1922-1923 and was shutdown in 1962. Work to dismantle the mill began in August 1969, and was completed by October 1971. It consisted of 60 major structures, including several multi-storied power and storage buildings, two blast furnaces, and a coke tower. USS donated the 338-acre site to Brigham Young University after its closure in 1962. In 1978 Provo City purchased 58 acres and in 1991 took an option on another 149 acres, which was sold to Provo in 1999. Environmental cleanup of the site began in 1998 and was completed during 2000.

Like its sister company Carbon County Railway, Columbia Steel Corporation was headed by L. F. Rains, at least until Columbia Steel was sold to United States Steel in 1930.

Mark Hemphill has summarized some of his previous research, parts of which were published in 1995 in his book Union Pacific Salt Lake Route.

The original capacity of Columbia Steel at Ironton, 1924 to 1943, was 600 tons of iron per day, but it did not always run at that capacity (Great Depression, etc.). After 1926, some of Ironton's output went to the adjacent Pacific States Cast Iron Pipe Co., which opened in 1926. The rest was split between Pittsburg and Torrance (the former Llewellyn Steel, purchased by Columbia Steel in 1923). There was no other source for pig for the open hearths at Pittsburg or Torrance, unless Columbia wanted to purchase on the market and strand its investment in its own blast furnace.

In 1943, a second 900-ton/day blast furnace was opened at Ironton -- it was owned by the Defense Plant Corporation. In 1943, 75% of the output of the two Ironton blast furnaces went to Pittsburg and Torrance, with the rest to PSCIP or other foundries, according to trade magazine Blast Furnace & Steel Plant.

In 1944, the DPC Geneva Works began producing steel. But the mill operated only for a short period, then was partially idled, as the steel demand for the war soon declined rapidly.

In 1946, USS purchased Geneva from the DPC, A hot-rolled coil mill was added, and hot-rolled coil began being shipped to Pittsburg in early 1949. Also post-war, Kaiser Steel purchased from the DPC the second (900-ton) blast furnace at Ironton, and for a period it supplied pig to both Fontana as well as to Chicago District mills. Ironton ran off-and-on after WWII.

After 1949, the preponderance of pig iron moving from either Ironton or Geneva (which did have a pig machine) to Pittsburg or Torrance would have been foundry pig. The open-hearths at Torrance were shut down in 1952.


Columbia Iron & Steel Company, 1908

February 1908
The Columbia name comes from the original steel company, "Columbia Steel Works," which had a small-scale steel plant in Portland, Oregon, that processed scrap steel into other usable products. The company's pioneering steel plant was on a site adjacent to the Columbia River. In early 1906, government "experts" had been successful in producing a half ton of steel from river sandbar deposits of black sand at the mouth of the Columbia River. The half-ton of steel was made into usable products, such as small tools and wheel rims, by the Columbia company. Similar black sand deposits were reported as existing all along the Pacific coast, from Alaska to lower California. To take advantage of the newly discovered resource, the Columbia Steel Company was organized in Portland in August 1907, and its new steel plant was expected to be in operation by February 1908.

Columbia Steel Company was incorporated in Nevada in November 1909, to build a steel plant at Antioch in Contra Costa County, California. The site, today known as Pittsburg, was adjacent to the Mount Diablo coal field and the Black Diamond mining district where coal had been mined since the 1850s. The twelve coal mines in the Mount Diablo region had been the largest in California. The steel plant was in operation by December 1910, in what was called the "Black Diamond District" ("The Wonderful Growth of the Black Diamond District"), when a newspaper news item reported that the steel plant was the largest steel casting plant on the Pacific coast.

November 1911
The Columbia Steel Company was reorganized as Columbia Iron & Steel Company in November 1911.

October 1916
Columbia Steel adds another open hearth furnace to its Pittsburg, California, steel casting plant. (Blast Furnace & Steel Plant, Volume 4, Number 10, October 1916, page 498)

July 1920
Columbia Steel builds a new rolling mill at Pittsburg, California, to its existing steel foundry, then the largest west of the Rocky Mountains. Principal products were railroad and sugar mill castings, also ship components during the war. Produces about 7,000 tons of open-hearth steel monthly. Construction began August 1919, completed March 29, 1920. The rolling mill consists of six large steel buildings. (Blast Furnace & Steel Plant Volume 8, Number 7, July 1920, page 401-403, "Columbia Steel Company's New Plant." )

Southern California Iron & Steel Company, 1914

April 1914
The Southern California Iron & Steel company had been organized in April 1914, as a reorganization of the California Industrial Company, which had been organized in 1909 as a small-scale processor of scrap steel and scrap iron. The company's steel plant went into operation on April 9, 1915 when its open-hearth furnace was "blown in." The steel process was to use oil instead of coal as its fuel source. The company had just received a shipment of 250 tons of pig iron from China. The first furnace had been 15 tons capacity. In January 1916, a second furnace with 30 tons capacity was put into operation, with pig iron still coming from China.

January 1917
In its annual report, published on January 9, 1917, the Union Oil Company of California stated that Southern California Iron & Steel company was one of its principal subsidiaries, and had shown a "marked" increase in earnings.

July 1917
In its report for the first half of 1917, the Union Oil company reported that it had sold its interest in the Southern California Iron & Steel company for a "satisfactory figure."

In August 1917 Southern California Iron & Steel filed a suit to recover the value of a contract purchase in January 1917 of 1,400 tons of scrap iron from a Mexican company, but the shipment went to San Francisco instead due to a higher price being paid.

September 1918
Southern California Iron & Steel company began purchasing iron ore from a quarry at Siam in San Bernardino County. The first shipment was for 1000 tons.

July 1919
Southern California Iron & Steel, "one of the largest heavy manufacturing enterprises in Southern California," announced its expansion to a new location on 25 acres in Huntington Park, moving from its current location at Fourth and Mateo streets in Los Angeles, where it was being constrained in its need to expand its operations. The new location would employ up to 700 men, compared to the current number of 400 men. The company had been a major supplier to the ship building industry during the war.

Columbia Steel Corporation, 1921

November 1921
The Columbia name was retained when a merger created the Columbia Steel Corporation in November 1921, combining Columbia Iron & Steel Corporation (with steel plants in Portland and Pittsburg, California), with Southern California Steel Company of Los Angeles (with a large steel plant in Los Angeles), and Utah Coal & Coke Company (with coal deposits in Utah's Carbon County, and iron ore deposits in Iron County).

January 1922
Columbia Steel Company announces it will merge with the Southern California Iron & Steel Co. of Los Angeles and the Carbon Fuel Company of Salt Lake City. Capitalization will be increased, plans will be developed for general expansion of both plants with increased output, and it is proposed, ultimately, that a 500-ton blast furnace be build in the vicinity of Salt Lake City with coke ovens. L. R. Rains is president of Carbon Fuel Co. (Blast Furnace & Steel Plant Volume 10, Number 1, January 1922, page 105)

August 11, 1922
Columbia Steel received Utah Public Utilities Commission approval to construct a subsidiary called the Carbon County Railway. At the same time they withdrew their application to build another subsidiary called the Iron County Railway which was to be constructed from Lund, on the Union Pacific, to their iron ore properties in Iron County. The steel company withdrew their application based on the Union Pacific's protest in which Union Pacific stated that they were intending to construct the Cedar City Branch. (Utah Public Service Commission case 577; applied August 11, 1922)

The iron ore bodies in Iron County had been discovered in the early 1850s by Mormon pioneers. The particular deposits near Iron Mountain were first located in the 1870s but by the 1920s had not yet been commercially worked. The mines were to be developed to furnish ore for the new Columbia Steel Company's new iron mill that was being constructed near Springville. The actual mining was done by the steel company's subsidiary Columbia Iron Mining Company, and also by the Colorado Fuel and Iron Company to supply its mill in Pueblo, Colorado. Columbia's mill near Springville, called Ironton, went into production, producing pig iron, on May 1, 1924. The construction of the Cedar City Branch also included the 4.5 mile Iron Mountain Branch to Desert Mound, which left the Cedar City Branch at Iron Springs (mile post 20.28).

September 1922
Columbia Steel Corporation, a recent merger of Columbia Steel Co. of San Francisco and Utah Coal & Coke with operations in Carbon and Iron Counties, Utah, announces plans for additions to its plant at Pittsburg, including a new rod mill, wire mill, nail works, and other structures, at an estimated cost of $1,500,000. Capitalization is $15,000,000. Address is 503 Market Street, San Francisco. (Blast Furnace & Steel Plant Volume 10, Number 9, September 1922, page 489)

October 18, 1922
LA&SL received ICC approval to construct the 32.5 mile Cedar City Branch. To be completed by December 31, 1923. (ICC Finance Docket 2527)

The branch was to be constructed to serve the developing iron ore mines in the district west of Cedar City.

November 23, 1922
Columbia Steel Corporation was incorporated under the laws of Delaware on November 23, 1922. (Ogden Standard Examiner, November 1, 1929)

December 20, 1922
Columbia Steel Corporation was organized in San Francisco, to consolidate the holdings of Columbia Steel Company of Pittsburg, California, and Portland, Oregon, and Utah Coal & Coke Company of Utah. (Ogden Standard Examiner, December 20, 1922, "today")

February 1923
Columbia Steel Corporation, recently reorganized with capital of $20,000,000, is perfecting plans for additions to its plant at Pittsburg, including an addition to open hearth department, new sheet and wire mills. Plans have been arranged for the immediate construction of a new blast furnace at Provo, Utah, work on this will be "pushed to completion." Wigginton E. Creed, president of Pacific Gas & Electric, is president of the corporation. The company is a combine of the Columbia Steel Co. with mills at Pittsburg and Portland, Oregon, and the Utah Coal & Coke Co. of Salt Lake City. (Blast Furnace & Steel Plant Volume 11, Number 2, February 1923, page 181)

February 21, 1923
About 400 acres was "turned over" to Columbia Steel Corporation for use to build its new plant between Provo and Springville. The Provo Chamber of Commerce had purchased a total of 1200 acres at the site, for $147,000, and was asking the Ogden and Salt Lake City chambers to contribute to the total amount. Construction was to commence on March 1st and was to take about 14 months for the first portion to be completed. The contractor was John Moor & Sons of Chicago. (Ogden Standard Examiner, January 13, 1923; February 21, 1922, "today")

April 1923
Construction materials were arriving daily, as construction commenced on the site of Columbia Steel's new plant. Grading for the spur track was completed, and rail was to be laid within a week, which would allow ten thousand tons of sand and gravel to be moved to the site for use in the completion of needed foundations. The Koppers Company of Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, was on contract to build the on-site by-product coke ovens, as soon as the rail spur was completed. On April 26th, contracts were signed to start construction of the blast furnace foundations, and the sewer and drain pipes. On May 1st, construction formally began. (Ogden Standard Examiner, April 21, 1923; April 27, 1923; May 1, 1923)

June 26, 1923
UP's Cedar City Branch was officially opened, including a ceremony presided over by U. S. President Warren G. Harding, who arrived by special train. Harding died on August 2, 1923. (Signor, LA&SL, page 94)

July 13, 1923
The Columbia coal mine began make trial shipments of coal in late July 1923. (Coal Index: The Sun, July 13, 1923, p. 1, "about to begin")

August 1923
Columbia Steel is pushing construction on its new "steel works" on site recently acquired in Utah. Foundations for the blast furnaces (note plural) are being laid and superstructure work will be commenced at a later date. Work is under way on four hot stoves, warehouses, and general shops. Operations at the iron ore properties are progressing and active mining will be commenced early in September 1923. The company has taken over the Llewellyn Steel Company of Los Angeles, and has acquired its entire capital stock and Los Angeles plant, which consists of open hearth furnaces, rolling mill, and other departments. Pig iron from the new Utah blast furnaces (again plural) will be shipped direct to all three mills. (Blast Furnace & Steel Plant Volume 11, Number 8, August 1923, page 460)

September 14, 1923
First coal was shipped from the Columbia Mine in mid September 1923. There were 200 miners working. (Coal Index: The Sun, September 14, 1923)

September 1923
Columbia Steel has acquired more land at Pittsburg for $75,000 for expansion of its mill there. Plans will be announced soon. (Blast Furnace & Steel Plant Volume 11, Number 9, September 1923, page 512)

February 16, 1924
The fires of the coke ovens were started at Columbia Steel's new plant at Ironton, to heat the bricks. After 60 days, the coke ovens will be ready to use. (Ogden Standard Examiner, February 16, 1924)

March 15, 1924
This day had been set aside as the day of celebration of the completion of Columbia Steel's new plant at Ironton. A crowd of 40,000 to 50,000 was expected. (Ogden Standard Examiner, March 8, 1924)

April 1924
Columbia Steel is completing the construction of its blast furnaces at Ironton, Utah, including three stoves and auxiliary departments. It is proposed to remove the company offices at Provo to Ironton, and a new two-story office building will be occupied in the near future. The company has disposed of a bond issue of $1 million. It is proposed to install new by-product equipment in the months to come. (Blast Furnace & Steel Plant Volume 12, Number 4, April 1924, page 218)

April 1924
Columbia Steel's mine at Iron Mountain was producing 600 tons of iron ore per day, with plans to increase production to 1000 tons per day by April 20th. (Ogden Standard Examiner, April 17, 1924)

May 1924
On May 1st, the first 20 tons of pig iron was drawn off the blast furnace of Columbia Steel's new plant at Ironton, at 6:30 p.m. By May 4th, 100 tons had been shipped to the company's fabricating works in Pittsburg, California, for the manufacture of wire, nails, sheet steel, and reinforcing bars. By May 7th, 500 tons had been shipped, but it would be about 80 days before full production of 350 tons per day would be reached. By May 22nd, production had reached 250 tons per day. (Ogden Standard Examiner, May 2, 1924; May 4, 1924; May 7, 1924; May 22, 1924)

May 1, 1924
Columbia Steel Corporation's Ironton plant began operations. Between 1924 and 1934, the plant produced: 1,189,598 tons of pig iron; 825,574 tons of coke; 44,702 tons of sulfate of ammonia; and 35,939 tons of benzol. The pig iron produced at the plant is shipped to plants in Pittsburg and Torrance, California. (Utah Public Service Commission, Case 1658, concerning Salt Lake & Utah Railroad's request in 1934 to increase freight rates)

June 3, 1924
The first car load of pig iron from the Columbia Steel plant at Ironton was received in Salt Lake City by Salt Lake Iron & Steel company, to be made into iron and steel castings. (Salt Lake Tribune, June 3, 1924)

June 7, 1924
This day was set aside as "Steel Day" in Provo, with a celebration to be held on the hillside east of the just-completed iron plant of Columbia Steel at Ironton, Utah. A crowd of 25,000 was expected to attend. The celebration was to include an air circus, 15 bands, a free barbeque, and a baseball game between the Ogden Elks club and the Provo Elks club. The site of the celebration was selected to allow the crowd to observe the 11 a.m. pour of liquid iron from the blast furnace into molds. The barbeque was to be held in the Springville city park, and in the Provo North Park. After the barbeque, a wild west show was planned at Timpanogos Park in Provo. Utah Governor Mabey was planning to attend. (Ogden Standard Examiner, June 1, 1924; June 8, 1924)

November 1924
Production at Columbia Seel's plant at Ironton had reached 400 tons per day. "Going by at night, the traveler finds the whole country is illuminated by the burning of the waste gas from the coke ovens. A great torch waves a welcome." (Ogden Standard Examiner, November 5, 1924)

January 1925
Columbia Steel put into operation 33 coke ovens during 1924. This was 33 of the nationwide total of 712 by-product coke ovens were built in 1924, more than any year since 1918, including 33 for Columbia Steel, the only to be installed west of the Mississippi that year. The following comes from the January 1925 issue of Blast Furnace & Steel Plant magazine.

The by-product coke and gas industry in the year 1924 was characterized by the completion of more by-product coke oven capacity than in any other year since 1918. A total of 712 ovens, having an annual carbonizing capacity of approximately 6,500,000 tons of coal, were completed and put into operation.

An interesting feature of this is the fact that all of this capacity is in the Becker type oven and all plants were designed and built by The Koppers Company.

The operating results from these plants and from the Weirton Steel Company's plant of 37 Becker type ovens which was completed in 1923, indicate very clearly that the Becker type oven has firmly established itself in the by-product coke oven industry. It will be noted that among the plants put into operation was a 366 oven extension for the Carnegie Steel Company at Clairton. The coke plant at Clairton was already the largest in the world. With this additional capacity, the Clairton plant now carbonizes over 22,000 tons of coal per day.

[Columbia Steel's Ironton plant near Provo, Utah, had] a daily carbonizing capacity of 1,000 tons of coal per day. This plant carbonizes the high volatile Utah coal, producing coke which is used in the blast furnace of the Columbia Steel Company at Provo, with excellent results. Heretofore, it has been considered impossible to produce a satisfactory blast furnace coke with these coals. This plant has now been in operation for over six months and the results secured to date show conclusively that a satisfactory blast furnace coke can be made from these coals in the Becker type ovens. The successful operation of this plant is a very definite step forward in the by-product coke oven practice.

Another interesting part of the 1924 construction has been the successful operation of the coal gas plants of the Becker type. It will be noted that four plants of this type were completed, all of which are operating with excellent results. (Blast Furnace & Steel Plant, Volume 13, Number 1, January 1925, page 39-41, "By-Product Summary." )

February 1925
... the Columbia Steel Corporation's plant at Provo, Utah [is an] entirely new plant having the distinction of entering entirely new territory." The site of the new furnace was fixed by the location of the large ore and coking coal deposits nearby, and its comparative closeness to the Pacific Coast markets "where Columbia basic and foundry iron has already become a decided factor." The chief competitor is European, especially Belgian, blast furnaces. The furnace was blown in during April 1924 and is producing about 370 tons daily of basic and foundry grades of pig iron with a coke consumption of about 2,250 pounds per ton of pig iron. Local high-volatile coals are coked in the 33 Koppers Becker type ovens. The iron ore averages 56 percent iron and seven percent silica, about 15 to 20 percent is magnetite. The furnace has a hearth diameter of 15'-0", bosh diameter of 19'-0", height 83 feet, eight tuyeres (nozzles), four stoves of 4'-1/2", checker opening with 50,000 square foot heating capacity each, operating on gas. The stock house and bin has allowed uninterrupted filling this winter in temperatures ranging from 30 degrees to minus 36 degrees. (Blast Furnace & Steel Plant, Volume 13, Number 2, February 1925, page 66-69,72, "Blast Furnace Progress in 1924.")

March 1925
The following comes from the March 1925 issue of Blast Furnace & Steel Plant magazine.

Columbia Steel Corporation's pig iron plant is three miles south of the town of Provo, on a site that slopes gently to Utah Lake. The coal mine operated by the company is near Sunnyside and is served by a branch line to the D&RG Railroad. A branchline to the iron mines has been built by the Union Pacific. The mine has been opened by an adit and the ore is mined by a series of surface mill holes. Ore is graded into two classes and is discharged either into charge bins or stockpiled at the plant. Coal is crushed to 1-1/2" at the mine and sent to the coal preparation plant or stockpiled. Limestone is derived from local sources near Provo.

The plant consists of a single blast furnace (nominal capacity of the furnace is 350 tons daily), coal preparation and conveying machinery, a by-product coking plant, power plant, shops, laboratories, and charging bins. The plant is modern in all respects; steel and concrete are largely used in construction. Conveyors and electric locomotives are used for transportation. The plant was designed by Freyn, Bassert & Co., noted Chicago blast furnace engineers, and erected by Columbia Steel. Iron and slag are handled in ladle cars, the ladle cars hauled by wire rope to the casting plant where two lines of molds. After casting and cooling the pigs are loaded into steel cars for shipment.

The coke plant makes three sizes, furnace coke for the furnace, domestic coke which is loaded into cars for shipment, and breeze, which is used at the power plant along with furnace gas and coke oven gas. The benzol product is sold locally and the tar is sold to the Barrett Company, which has a small plant nearby. The ammonium sulphate is shipped to Hawaii.

The power plant has five 617-hp boilers, two GE generators driven by Curtis turbines, each of 1,500 kW capacity, and two Ingersoll-Rand rotary blowers of 30,000-50,000 cfm capacity at 18 lb. pressure. Additional power is supplied by Utah Power. The power house is a brick and steel building. Plant manager is L. F. Rains. (Blast Furnace & Steel Plant magazine, Volume 13, Number 3, March 1925, page 123-125, "Making Pig Iron from Utah Ore"; reprinted from Engineering & Mining Journal Press)

May 1925
Columbia Steel Corporation entered into a contract for Utah Iron Ore Corporation to furnish 1,500,000 tons of iron ore from its Desert Mound open pit mine, at a minimum of 500 tons per day, with delivery to start in July 1926. (G. D. MacDonald, The Magnet, page 19)

December 1925
"The Columbia Steel Corporation, San Francisco, Cal., has acquired iron ore properties at Iron Mountain, Utah, heretofore held by the Milner-Dear-Leach Company, totaling more than 900 acres, and plans for extensive developments in the near future." (Blast Furnace & Steel Plant, Volume 13, Number 12, December 1925, page 505, "The Open Hearth")

September 1926
The coal used at Provo is 100 percent Carbon County coal containing more than 10 percent oxygen and over 40 percent volatile matter when dry. "It is undoubtedly the lowest rank coal being carbonized in America, yet a very satisfactory furnace coke is being obtained." P. W. Jackson, blast-furnace superintendent, stated that "the March production of 11,528 tons of iron with a low fuel consumption per ton of iron, compares favorably with any practice in the country, and the limit of progress has not yet been reached." (Blast Furnace & Steel Plant 14, Number 9, September 1926, page 391)

March 23, 1927
LA&SL received ICC approval to change the 1.87-mile industrial spur serving the Columbia Steel iron plant at Ironton in Utah County near Provo, from an industrial spur, to a track with full common carrier status, as an extension of LA&SL's interstate rail system, rather than as a spur within its system solely within the State of Utah. LA&SL had an agent located at Ironton to attend to its business. The spur was built in 1923 to deliver materials needed for the construction of the steel plant. The approval was protested by the Salt Lake & Utah Railroad interurban line because they felt that they should be receiving a large portion of the traffic from the steel plant. The Union Pacific spur crossed both the D&RGW and the SL&U, with the portion from the D&RGW crossing to the steel plant being operated as joint trackage because the steel plant received its coal from the Carbon County coal mines served by the D&RGW and the Utah Railway. The steel plant received its other raw materials from sources on the Union Pacific; iron ore from Iron County on Union Pacific Cedar City Branch, limestone from the Topliff quarries in Tooele County on Union Pacific's Fairfield Branch, and manganese from Pioche, Nevada on Union Pacific's Pioche Branch. LA&SL argued that when the spur was constructed, it did not invade the territory of SL&U because the iron plant was new, and SL&U did not already have provide an existing service, and that SL&U was not entitled to the interstate traffic merely because the LA&SL spur crossed its line. An investigation by the ICC found that the SL&U was not entitled to participate in interstate commerce merely because its own line was situated near to and adjacent to the iron plant. Many researchers have observed that the much larger (and better connected, politically) Union Pacific, and its LA&SL subsidiary, simply stole the interstate traffic from the much smaller Salt Lake & Utah. (ICC Finance Docket 5543, in 124 ICC 207; submitted on March 12, 1927; decided on March 23, 1927; appealed on July 1, 1927; appeal rejected on November 12, 1927; appealed again on April 6, 1928; appeal rejected on May 8, 1928)

LA&SL built the spur in 1923, crossing the lines of both D&RGW and Salt Lake & Utah, for the purpose of providing service to the new Columbia Steel iron plant. The spur terminated at the newly constructed five-track yard located between the SL&U mainline, and the plant itself, where the steel company received inbound railroad traffic, and delivered outbound traffic. At the request of Columbia Steel, the interchange yard was designated by LA&SL as Ironton. Previously, SL&U did have a small interchange yard in the nearby vicinity, used solely during sugar beet season to interchange loads of sugar beets. Later, a new plant for the manufacture of cast iron pipe was built west of the D&RGW line, and a new spur was established to also serve a creosoting plant.

July 1927
The growth of business of Columbia Steel has required a plant enlargement: Koppers Construction Company has been contracted to add 23 Becker type ovens to the original 33 ovens, along with added by-product and benzol capacity. The total annual carbonizing capacity will be approximately 600,000 tons of coal. (Blast Furnace & Steel Plant, Volume 15, Number 7, July 1927, page 365)

April 1928
Operation has started of the new battery of 23 Koppers by-product coke ovens. The company now has a total capacity of 400,000 tons of coke. (Blast Furnace & Steel Plant, Volume 16, Number 4, April 1928, page 521)

September 1928
Columbia Steel with plants at Provo, Portland, Pittsburg, and Torrance, will make additions including a new tin-plate mill of 50,000 tons annual capacity, with operation planned for early next year. (Blast Furnace & Steel Plant, Volume 16, Number 9, September 1928, page 1225)

April 1929
New tin-plate mill starts operation on March 12, 1929, the first plant devoted to this product west of Chicago. Plant was built in six months. Plate is delivered to either Southern Pacific or Santa Fe cars. (Blast Furnace & Steel Plant, Volume 17, Number 4, April 1929, page 557-559, Hulse, A. 1. & C. E. Dougan. "New Tin Mills at Pittsburg, California.")

October 31, 1929
Columbia Steel Corporation was acquired by United States Steel Corporation on October 31, 1929. Columbia Steel acquired the Milner-Dear-Lerch iron holdings near Iron Mountain, Utah, "several years ago." By October 1929, Columbia Steel owned property containing 60 million tons of coking coal and 30 million tons of high grade iron ore. Plants were located at Ironton, Utah, Pittsburg, California, and Portland, Oregon. (Ogden Standard Examiner, November 1, 1929)

Between May 1, 1924, the date that Columbia Steel Corporation opened the Ironton plant, and 1934, the plant produced: 1,189,598 tons of pig iron; 825,574 tons of coke; 44,702 tons of sulfate of ammonia; and 35,939 tons of benzol. The pig iron that is produced at Ironton is shipped to plants in Pittsburg and Torrance, California. (Utah Public Service Commission case 1658)

December 1937
Columbia Steel announces an extensive modernization and rehabilitation program, including a new office building in Los Angeles for the company's southern California sales force, and enlarge warehouses. New machinery is being installed at Torrance. (Blast Furnace & Steel Plant, Volume 24, Number 12, December 1937, page 1309)

January 1938
The Provo blast furnace was blown in on December 3. It was blown out on September 39 for relining and other repairs after operation since 1931. The furnace will supply iron for the company's mills at San Francisco, Pittsburg, and Torrance, California, and for the Pacific Coast trade in general. (Blast Furnace & Steel Plant, Volume 26, Number 1, January 1938, page 103)

March 1941
Columbia Steel Company has announced a $5 million-plus enlargement of its Pacific Coast facilities to include additional steel making and finishing mills. The decision recognizes the growing steel demands of the region as well as National Defense needs. The company operates steel works at Pittsburg and Torrance, ore and coal mines and a blast furnace in Utah, open hearth furnaces, rolling, wire, nail, sheet, and tin mills, foundries, and a wire rope and fence plant. (Blast Furnace & Steel Plant, Volume 29, Number 3, March 1941, page 341)

U. S. Steel's Columbia Mine was expanded in 1942 by the addition of 500 coke ovens. The 500 beehive coke ovens were constructed at Columbia by the War Department to increase the coke capacity.

A blast furnace for making pig iron was moved from Illinois to Ironton, but the war was almost over by the time that the blast furnace went into operation, therefore both the beehive coke ovens and the blast furnace were only in operation a short time. It was reported that the construction of the beehive coke ovens at Columbia cost $3 million and the movement and installation of the blast furnace cost $9 million. Kaiser purchased both the beehive coke ovens and the blast furnace from the War Assets Administration. (Gibson, Arthur E. "The Kaiser Mine, Sunnyside", Centennial Echos from Carbon County, 1948, p. 261)

November 1942
A second blast furnace is scheduled to go into operation at the Ironton Works as early as December. This previously inoperative furnace was shipped to Ironton from Joliet, Illinois, and is being enlarged and modernized. It was owned by Defense Plant Corporation. (Blast Furnace & Steel Plant, Volume 30, Number 11, November 1942, page 1287)

August 1943
The Ironton No. 2 furnace was blown in on July 1, 1943, and is now producing pig. This is the second furnace to be blown in the far West in the previous six months (the other was Kaiser), for a total of three furnaces in the West. Ironton No. 2 is rated at 900 tons daily. The Ironton No. 1, rated at 600 tons, was until 1942 the only blast furnace in the far West. Approximately 75 percent of the pig is shipped to coast plants of Columbia steel in Pittsburg and Los Angeles, with some foundry grade being marketed (locally). (Blast Furnace & Steel Plant, Volume 31, Number 8, August 1943, page 919)

December 1951
Columbia Steel Corp. and Geneva Steel Company, both fully controlled by United States Steel, were merged to become Columbia-Geneva Steel Company.

U. S. Steel's iron plant at Ironton was closed in 1966.

Steam Locomotives

Builder Builder
Date To
Columbia Steel
(100) 4-6-0 Rhode Island 2491 Jan 1891 Jun 1923   1
200 0-6-0 Baldwin 57585 Dec 1923 (new)   2
300 0-6-0 Baldwin 58379 May 1925 (new)   3

General Notes:

  1. Above roster information furnished in April 1988 by P. Allen Copeland, later published in Locomotives Notes II, Number 113, page 1.
  2. A visit by a group of California railfans in 1939 (see Colorado Rail Annual #18), along with recollections of retired Ironton workers, suggests that only two steam locomotives were operated at Ironton: CSC 200 and 300. (information from Steve Seguine, via email on March 4, 2003)
  3. Number 300 changed from May 1923 build date to May 1925. (correction from Jay Reed via May 3, 2007 email)
  4. Ownership changed from Columbia Steel Co., to Geneva Steel Co., in June 1946; to United States Steel Co., in December 1951; to United States Steel Corp. in January 1953. (information from Jeff Terry, via email on February 26, 2003)
  5. Steam (numbers 200 and 300) was used at Ironton throughout the mid 1950s; replaced by center-cab GE diesel locomotives borrowed from Geneva Works by 1960-1961. (information from Steve Seguine, via email on February 26, 2003)
  6. The following steam locomotives have been carried in roster listings as being sold to Columbia Steel, but were more likely locomotives that were shipped to Ironton to be scrapped.
Builder Builder
Date To
Columbia Steel
  0-8-0 Pittsburgh 42075 1907 30 Jul 1942 built as EJ&E 2-8-0 95, rebuilt to EJ&E 0-8-0 528 in March 1929, retired by EJ&E in January 1942; sold to Columbia Steel Corp. in July 1942.
  0-8-0 Pittsburgh 42076 1907 30 Jul 1942 built as EJ&E 2-8-0 96, rebuilt to EJ&E 0-8-0 529 in March 1929, retired by EJ&E in January 1942; sold to Columbia Steel Corp. in July 1942.
  0-8-0 Baldwin 26570 Oct 1905 1 Aug 1942 built as Chicago, Lake Shore & Eastern 100; to EJ&E 300; sold to Columbia Steel Corp., in August 1942.
  0-8-0 Baldwin 26571 Oct 1905 1 Aug 1942 built as Chicago, Lake Shore & Eastern 101; to EJ&E 301; sold to Columbia Steel Corp., in August 1942.
  0-6-0 Baldwin 37377 Dec 1911   Built as Bingham & Garfield Ry. 301; to Utah Copper 301 in 1937
  0-6-0 Baldwin 37671 Apr 1912   Built as Bingham & Garfield Ry. 305; to Utah Copper 305 in 1937


  1. Columbia Steel 100 was built in 1891 as Oregon Short Line 1464; renumbered to OSL 616 in 1897; renumbered to OSL 1513 in 1915; retired in June 1923 and sold to Carbon County Railway. (disposition unknown) (19-1/2x24 cylinders, 62 inch drivers)
  2. Columbia Steel 200; (disposition unknown) (21x26 cylinders, 51 inch drivers)
  3. Columbia Steel 300 was donated to Geneva Recreation Association (GRA) in 1960, placed by crane on May 28, 1960 for display in GRA Park, Provo, Utah; GRA Park closed and property sold, locomotive donated in January 2003 to Heber Valley Railroad; moved to Heber City in July 2003; locomotive was missing one of its main drive rods, which was to be fabricated as part of its restoration. (21x26 cylinders 51 inch drivers) (See also: photo and article at


Research in online newspapers.

Research in the issues of Blast Furnace & Steel Plant magazine, completed during 1994, furnished by Mark Hemphill.

Union Pacific Salt Lake Route, by Mark W. Hemphill, 1995, Boston Mills Press, ISBN 1-55046-138-9