Earl Kurtz



I was one of ten men who all started at the same time as electronics apprentices and joined the 22 electronic repairmen all working on that day, July 1, 1963. There were only four electronic shops in the plant at this time and the 10 of us apprentices were split up between these shops, but we all moved every six months. It was at this time we got to know the rest of the gang and shared holidays, Christmas parties and retirements with the rest of the 22 repairman; just as other steelworkers in the plant did.

The togetherness the other steelworkers enjoyed ended in 1967 when the BOF and The Combo Mill were completed. 10 men were assigned to the BOF and 10 men to the Combo Mill. We also added 4 additional men to 24/7 coverage for the entire plant called the shift gang. These crew changes were anticipated by the department and 5 additional apprenticeships were started.

When I look back at all the new technology that was constantly being installed in the entire plant, I can only ask myself why did the plant close, but the Forging and Machine Shop division continued producing steel products to this day.  We had cell phones before anyone in the country would ever dream about carrying a phone in their pocket. We had remote control electric locomotives back in 1970’s when now the auto industry is just now making electric self driving cars.

How could the company that spent 50 million dollars to build a state of the art 59” mill which produced one of the largest I beams, “the meter beam”, fail. The only answer that comes to mind is that President Clinton did not impose a tariff on countries that were selling meter beams at costs less the cost of producing them.