Today we face the difficult reality that more than a century of steel making as we know it has come to an end in Baltimore County,” Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz said Thursday after the announcement of the sale of the historic Sparrows Point facility’s cold mill assets.
Nucor Corp, a Charlotte-based steel manufacturer, had reported a day earlier that it had brought the Sparrows Point facility from Hilco Industrial, which specializes in industrial auctions for used machinery. Hilco purchased the plant earlier this year during RG Steel’s bankruptcy procedure.
Nucor intends to dismantle Sparrow Point’s cold mill parts for production at the company’s four other mills, president and CEO John Ferriola told American Metal Market.
In 1889, the Pennsylvania Steel Company opened the Sparrows Point mill, which was eventually sold to Bethlehem Steel in 1916. At its peak, the mill was home to more than 30,000 workers and became the largest steel mill in the world.
The mill also supplied steel for World War II ships — for a longtime, the Sparrows Point was also a major shipbuilding center — as well as iconic structures like the Golden Gate and Chesapeake Bay bridges.
“The entire community feels the emotional and financial impact, whether you are a former RG Steel or Bethlehem Steel worker, a retiree living in Turner Station, or a business owner in Dundalk,” Kamenetz said.
There are several very good local works about the Sparrows Point mill and the communities that grew up around it, including “Roots of Steel,” by Dundalk-born author Deborah Rudacille, and “Making Steel,” by Mark Ruetter, a former Baltimore Sun reporter now with the Baltimore Brew.
Community College of Baltimore County Labor Studies program director Bill Barry has also created an online Sparrows Point Steelworkers Project, which can be found here.