Youngstown Steel Heritage Museum Sets Open House

Steel museum open house
Rick Rowlands, executive director of the Youngstown Steel Heritage Museum, stands under what is believed to be the oldest overhead electric crane in America. The museum will hold an open house on Saturday.

The Youngstown Steel Heritage Foundation is holding a spring open house from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at the Youngstown Steel Heritage Museum, 261 Hubbard Road.

The open house will serve as the groundbreaking for the “Hook and Bucket” sculpture that will be built over the summer and dedicated on Sept. 21. The “Hook and Bucket” will be a 55-ton, 40-foot tall, full-size representation of the ingot teeming process in a steel mill.

Made entirely from actual steel making equipment built in the Mahoning Valley, the sculpture will be dedicated to all the men and women who made steel in the Mahoning Valley and will serve as the focal point of a future steel “Hall of Fame” to be constructed in front of the museum building.

A variety of demonstrations, including blacksmithing, also will take place at Saturday’s open house. The public is invited to attend.

The museum formerly was known as the Tod Engine Heritage Park. Youngstown Steel Heritage Museum Executive Director Rick Rowlands said the foundation board decided to change the name of the museum because its collection has grown beyond the Tod Engine, which is its centerpiece.

The Tod Engine is a stationary steam engine that drove rolling mills at the Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co.’s Brier Hill Works. The engine, which weighs 260 tons, will turn 100 in 2014.

The open house also will feature America’s oldest electric overhead crane, which was built in 1893 by Morgan Engineering in Alliance. Rowlands believes it is the oldest one still in existence in the United States since the first-ever electric overhead crane was built in 1888.

Rowlands said the crane has a 25-ton capacity and is 40 feet long. He said the 2,600-square foot Youngstown Steel Heritage Museum was designed to accommodate the historic piece.

Also featured at the museum is a locomotive and hot metal car used in the steel making process. Rowlands said the locomotive was acquired from Valley Mold in Hubbard and was used to switch railroad cars at the foundry. The hot metal car hauled iron from the blast furnace to the steel mill. It was originally built in Youngstown and was brought back to its birthplace from Pittsburgh.

In addition to those pieces, the museum also houses a set of rolls from a roll former used to make corrugated steel siding, which was purchased at an auction earlier this year at the former RG Steel Plant in Warren.

The Youngstown Steel Heritage Foundation was established in 1993 to preserve the Valley’s steel making past. For the past 16 years, the Youngstown Steel Heritage Foundation has been collecting equipment and other items from former steel mills throughout the Valley. So far, the foundation has collected more than 500 tons of historic steel making equipment.

Most of the pieces have been donated and the foundation raises money to transport and set up the equipment at the museum site. The foundation also restores equipment and plans to return some of its pieces to working condition.

Rowlands said the foundation has owned the property where the museum sits for 12 years and the core building cost $50,000. However, nearly $200,000 has been spent on the entire project, most of which was used to move the historical artifacts.

“All of the money has been raised through fundraisers and private donors. No grants or government money has been used,” Rowlands said.

He said the museum is mostly complete, but the foundation would like to build a 20-foot by 60-foot addition to house a gift shop, visitor’s center and restrooms. He said fundraising for the addition, anticipated to cost $100,000, will begin next year.

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