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Bessemer Block, Youngstown, Ohio.

April 30, 2012

From Dependable Highways, Vol. 3, Nos. 3-9, 1916:

From The Blast Furnace and Steel Plant, Vol. 7, No. 9, September, 1919:

From History of Youngstown and Mahoning Valley, Ohio by Joseph Green Butler Jr., 1921:

The Bessemer Limestone Company

The Bessemer Limestone Company was organized in 1885. After the sale of the properties of the Brier Hill Limestone Company at Hillsville, Pennsylvania, to the Carbon Limestone Company in 1881, J. G. Butler, Jr., at that time general manager of the Brier Hill Iron & Coal Company and the Brier Hill Limestone Company, directed the purchase of a large tract in Hickory Creek Valley, about 2 1/2 miles south of Hillsville, and organized a company for the operation of this tract. This company was financed principally by the Wheeling Steel & Iron Company, the Brownell Iron Works and Dewey, Vance & Co., all manufacturers of cut nails at Wheeling, and the product was at first shipped principally to that point. The firm was known as Tod, Butler & Company. For its development the Pennsylvania Railroad Company constructed a branch from Coverts Station to the quarries, which were high up the hills, and around these quarries the Village of Bessemer soon grew up.

Formed originally as a West Virginia corporation in 1888 the company took out a new charter under the laws of Pennsylvania and added considerably to its holdings. The first officers of the new company were J. G. Butler, Jr., president; W. B. Schiller, now president of the National Tube Company, secretary; Jacob D. Schilling, now superintendent of mines for the Utah Copper Company, superintendent. The operation was at first carried out entirely by hand and the stone was not crushed as at present.

As the plant was expanded and operations progressed it was found that the limestone was overlaid with a strata of shale of a quality that immediately suggested its usefulness in the manufacture of brick, and in 1901 a brick plant, containing six kilns, was erected. This was increased in size in 1903, again in 1906, and again in 1911. It has now 12 kilns and produces regularly about 2,500,000 brick per month. In 1905 the manufacture of paving brick was commenced, and it was found that the company’s supply of raw material for this purpose was very large as well as of the best quality. This activity has developed with great rapidity, a special paving block plant having been erected in 1907 and increased from time to time until it is now the largest unit plant of its kind in the world. In this plant are made 48,000,000 paving blocks per year. One of its features is a continuous kiln, the burning chamber of which is more than half a mile in length. This plant was owned by a subsidiary corporation known as the Bessemer Brick Company, and it was sold to the Metropolitan Paving Brick Company on March 1, 1917, which now operates it.

In spite of the rapid progress made by the two allied companies, it was not until 1913 that quarrying stone by means of steam shovels was begun. This was followed by the installation of very large crushers. This new and modern equipment came into service at a period when it was badly needed, as immense quantities of stone were quarried, crushed and shipped to blast furnaces for the manufacture of pig iron needed for war purposes, and classified as a war necessity by the Government. Vast amounts of crushed limestone were also furnished for road building, and from 1906 to 1910, practically all of the improved roads in the Mahoning Valley were built of material from this plant.

Another plant was established by the company in September, 1905, near Lowellville, this plant being operated by the Arrel Limestone Company, a subsidiary. In 1911 an agricultural limestone plant was erected, and this plant has prospered. It uses the waste from the limestone quarries, pulverizing it for use as a fertilizer. A washing plant was erected in 1919, by which the screenings from flux stone are cleaned and made marketable, this proving a large economy.

In June, 1919, the operation of a remote haulage system was designed to eliminate locomotives and crews formerly used in the quarries. By this means the cars laden with stone are moved from all parts of the plant to the loading docks by a leverman in a tower. This is a most modern and efficient contrivance and has proven highly economical.

A large cement plant, which will use waste materials and produce about 1,000,000 barrels of Portland cement per year, is now in course of erection and will be completed in the summer of 1920. Previous to beginning the erection of this plant the company was reorganized and its name changed to The Bessemer Limestone & Cement Company, with a capital of $3,000,000. With the completion of the cement plant, its products will be blast furnace flux, agricultural limestone, washed limestone for all construction purposes, and Portland cement.

The Village of Bessemer, which has grown up about these operations is a prosperous community of 1,600 people, with houses largely of brick, churches, schools, a good hotel, and all other conveniences of urban life. It has been the policy of the company to always look well to the comfort and satisfaction of its employes, and they enjoy many advantages unusual in a village of this size.

The present officials are: J. G. Butler, Jr., chairman of the board; W. B. Schiller, president; F. R. Kanengeiser, vice president and general manager; G. G. Treat, secretary and treasurer; J. A. Johnson, superintendent.

From the Lawrence County Historical Society’s Facebook page:

In 1885 steel men from Youngstown, Steubenville and Wheeling organized the Bessemer Limestone Company to produce limestone for use in blast furnaces. The operation was located in Bessemer with vast acreages of raw materials. At the turn of the century the company was confronted with what to do with the increasing tonnage of “overburden” resulting from expanding limestone quarrying. Tests indicated much of this “by-product” was an excellent grade of shale for making brick. Thus in 1901, the Bessemer Brick Company began operating with six kilns having a total capacity of 10 million brick annually. More capacity was added in 1903, 1906 and in 1911 and 1912 producing in excess of 30,000,000 brick a year. Bessemer brick was used in the Gazette-Telegraph Building in Pittsburgh, the Central YMCA in Cleveland and Bessemer pavers were used paving the very first tunnels under the Hudson River. This is a photo of the construction of Brick Plant #1 about 1900.

From Brick and Clay Record, Vol. L, No. 6, March 13, 1917:

Metropolitan Buys Bessemer Brick Plant

Announcement was made in the February 27 issue of “Brick and Clay Record” of action taken recently by the stockholders of the Metropolitan Paving Brick Company of Canton, Ohio, which involved an increase of $5,500,000 in the capital stock of the company, raising the capitalization to $7,500,000. It was stated that a large part of this increase would be used in the extension of the present plants and in acquiring new property.

As a part of the last mentioned plan, it has been learned from an authoritative source that the Metropolitan company has purchased paving brick plants Nos. 1 and 2 of the Bessemer (Pa.) Limestone Company, together with sites and certain rights in the clay deposits. The Bessemer Limestone Company will continue to operate its crushing plants and incidentally will supply shale for the operation of the brick plants at that point.

Claude C. Blair, formerly vice-president and general manager of the Bessemer Limestone Company, will become salesmanager of the Metropolitan company. Fred R. Kanengeiser, formerly general superintendent of the Bessemer plants, will become general manager of the Bessemer Limestone Company. R. C. Wallis, who was Mr. Kanengeiser’s assistant, will be commissioned by the Metropolitan company to the management of the Bessemer brick plants. John R. Rowland, treasurer of the Metropolitan company, is severing his connections with that concern to become vice-president of the Mahoning National Bank at Youngstown, Ohio.

While there is somewhat of an understanding in the trade as to who will occupy the office of president and general superintendent of the Metropolitan Brick Company in the future, no definite action has been taken. Therefore, these officers will be announced at a later date. It is not believed that the personnel of the force at the Bessemer brickplants will be materially changed,

It is with great satisfaction that the members of the Institute of Paving Brick Manufacturers, of which organization Mr. Kanengeiser is president, have received in an informal way assurances that he will not resign his leadership for the time being at least.

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7 Comments
  1. I have several of these bricks that I use on a garden pathway. Your blog has given me the most info so far on these Bessemer Youngstown Block bricks. I want to link to your Bessemer page if you approve.

    • A link would be great, thanks! So do you live near Youngstown? Where did you find them. I found several in landfill in Boston. Practically everything in Boston is built on landfill. Seems like they would only have been made between 1900-1917, unless Metropolitan Block continued use of the name which seems unlikely since their brand name was already so strong.

      • suki17 permalink

        I live 7 miles from Ytown, you can see pix of the path at my site above. Please respond about the moss question. Thanks for answering so soon. I took the liberty of posting link last nite – had to post by 10 – figured I could remove if nec.

  2. I read your blog and answered about the moss there. I love the moss. I let it grow on mine.

  3. Pulled one out of a trashcan yesterday, directly across 12 St. from the Dept. of Commerce in NW Washington DC. Found this site by typing Bessemer Brick Youngstown, the first tand third word remaining mostly evident on the block

  4. Gina permalink

    My father in law lives in youngstown and his entire driveway is made with these bricks. We are trying to sell them because his neighbors have made it clear they intend to loot the place when he moves out in a couple days. There has to be at least 2000 of them. Do you know what kind of interest there is out there for these bricks?

    • Beth permalink

      Have some leading down to my yard (steps) . Live outside of Syracuse ny

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