In the present live and prosperous town of Mingo is seen a striking result of the sagacity, enterprise and liberality of Wheeling manufacturers. This town owes its present flourishing condition, indeed its very existence, to the operation and growth of the Junction Iron Company, whose extensive and valuable plant, including a nail factory, plate mill and blast furnace, is located there, and the Laughlin and Junction Steel Company, whose large works for the production of Bessemer steel is one of the most complete and admirable manufacturing establishments in the country.
Natural gas has been brought twenty-five miles from the Hickory district in Pennsylvania, and all the heating and stem is derived from the new fuel, which has been in use throughout the entire plant for over thirty days, this being the first mill in the Wheeling district to use it. There are no natural advantages which the location does not allow the companies to enjoy, always placing them in the advance among the most progressive concerns of the day. "This vast enterprise is controlled and administered by Samuel Laughlin, President; William L. Glessner, Vice-President; Alex. Glass, Secretary, W.C. Bradley and Thomas Ainsworth are its managers and Robert Richardson, Harry Stallman and Harry Franzheim are employed in the office.
The plant consists of two five ton converters, three cupolas fifty feet high and eight feet in diameter, one swindle soaking pit and one ingot heating furnace, with a capacity for heating 24 ingots at one time. There is one blooming train run by a double reversing engine with cylinders 28 inches in diameter and 48-inch stroke. The works are so nicely planned that there is no rehandling, the cranes being so located as to take the iron from the cupolas and pour it into the converters; take the steel from the converters and pour it into the moulds, strip and charge into the heating furnaces; convey from there to the roll tables. When rolled into slabs and billets it is carried on tables by rollers to the shearers and loaded by hydraulic cranes on the cars. There are eleven cranes in all, operated from one point. They are: One ladle crane, one pouring crane, two bottom cranes, three ingot cranes, one shear crane, two loading cranes, all hydraulic, and one steam crane.There are besides two blast engines with 48-inch stroke; one double reversing blooming train engine, 48-inch stroke; one table engine; one stationary engine, 14 inches in diameter with 48- inch stroke; three duplex pressure pumps; an accumulator for increasing the hydraulic pressure to operate the cranes, weighted to 350 pounds pressure; two No. 10 Sturtevant blowers; twelve boilers, 24x44, with two 16-inch flues, fed by two duplex 5-inch water pumps; a bottom house; three drying ovens; a crusher and pulverizer; one Spiegel furnace; two locomotives, named "Samuel " and "Sydney," after the President and his wife.
The steel plant buildings consist of a hoist tower of iron, 75 feet by 12 feet; a converting house 130 by 65 feet, also of iron; a blooming house 110 by 95 feet, wooden frame covered with iron; one house covering the boilers, engines and bottom house, 175 by 55 feet, of wood frame and iron; and two store-rooms for brick, clay, etc.
The blast furnace is under the superintendence of George A. Dean, manager. It is fifteen feet in diameter and sixty feet high. A second furnace is now being built by Gordon, Strobel & Laurean, of Philadelphia, and is to be seventeen feet in diameter by seventy-five feet high, and complete and modern in all its details and appliances. The furnace buildings are a brick stock house, 150 by 60 feet, with slate roof; two hoist towers, 100 feet high and 22 feet square, one of brick and the other iron; two brick casting houses, 100 by 45 feet feet, with iron roofs; one brick engine house, 60 by 30 feet; a boiler pump house 20 feet square, and a power house at the river 20 by 30 feet. The boiler sheds are 60 feet square and three in number.
There are four iron hot blast stoves, two blast engines, 12 boilers in batteries of three, each being 38 feet long and 44 inches in diameter, with two fifteen-inch flues. The boilers are fed by three pumps located in the engine room. The water is supplied by five steam pumps located at the river - one 12-inch, one 10 inch and one 9-inch Cameron and two 7-inch Cooper pumps, pumping directly to the several departments and the surplus going to a basin located on an elevation of about 65 feet and 1,500 feet from the river.
The furnace capacity when fully equipped, will reach about 250 tons daily.
The plate mill is completely equipped with three Smith heating furnaces with a heating capacity of 130 tons of iron daily and rolls and shears for the same.
The nail factory is under the management of Samuel Sloan and C.W. Dean, practical and efficient men, and is equipped with 126 nail machines and 38 grinding ones; two blueing machines, three tending and one annealing furnace. The factory is lighted throughout with the electtric light.
The machine shop is in charge of John Quinn, who has the supervision of all machinery. It is most completely fitted up with all the modern appliances of such a department of so extensive an establishment as that of the Junction Iron Company.
The nail mill buildings are: The plate mill building, 130 by 95 feet, wooden frame covered with iron; nail factory, 300 by 95 feet, of the same character; annealing house, 100 by 26 feet, same; ware house, 100 by 75 feet, brick and iron; blacksmith shop, 60 by 25 feet, brick and iron; machine shop, 63 by 32 feet, brick and iron; house over heating furnaces and boilers, 185 by 50 feet.
There is also a laboratory, situated on the river bank, the building 40 by 40 feet. Geo. S. Miller is chemist and Thos. Oldham his assistant. It is complete in every detail, having all the appliances for speedy and accurate determinations, an imperative essential in the hourly requirements of the works, and demanding the highest skill and chemical knowledge.
The works are so arranged that commencing at the south end of the works one can by going north see each change, from the raw material at the furnace to the pig iron; from the pig iron to steel ingots; from ingots to nail plate slabs, then to nail plate, and leaving the shears follow it on to the factory where the celebrated Junction nail is made by competent workmen, with a record of over 59 000 kegs a month - more than ever made by any other single firm in the world.
At the head of all this little world of industry is Mr. Samuel Laughlin, who is President of both the Laughlin and Junction Steel Company and the Junction Iron Company.
The product of the Junction Iron Company is steel nails made from their own Bessemer steel and Bessemer iron from their own blast furnaces. The raw material used is entirely under their own control, enabling them to secure the best possible results and supply the trade with a nail which is unexcellence in all respects that command the patronage of the best trade of the country.
These combined works occupy over forty acres, with sixty-eight tenement houses for their employes. They employ 690 workmen; have two miles of railroad track and switches. Each pay roll amounts to about $20,ooo. The nailers are skilled workmen, producing as good nails as made in any factory.
An idea of the capacity of the nail factory may be obtained from the fact that in July, 1886, in the midst of the heated season, it turned out 59,430 kegs of nails, none of which remained in stock over forty-eight hours. In one week in August 15,629 kegs were cut, being the largest production ever made in the world in a week by one factory. The product of the Junction Iron Company in steel nails will, if continued at the present ratio of production, bring up the entire output of the United States to double the production during the year 1884.
Of the Junction Iron Company Samuel Laughlin is President and General Manager; Henry K. List Vice President; George A. Laughlin Secretary. The general office is in Wheeling, with a branch at the works. No concern offers a more conspicous example of success, or reflects more distinguished credit upon those connected with it, than the works at Mingo.
Service provided by the staff of the Ohio County Public Library in partnership with and partially funded by the Wheeling National Heritage Area Corporation.