Saturday, July 9, 2016

Gone But Not Forgotten: Jones & Laughlin Steel Co.

Every time I think I have found the first color photo of an Ohio River towboat that I had taken with my first single-lens reflex camera, I find another one that could fit that description. This time, though, I think I have found it. This would have been in the autumn of 1976, probably in November.

You can't tell much from this picture, but when I scanned the negative at my scanner's highest resolution, I could make out the name Titan on the side and what looks like Jones & Laughlin Steel Corporation under it. Old-timers can tell me if the color scheme matches what J&L was using at the time.

Here is a closeup with a little color correction. The dots are problems with the negative or the glass plate on my scanner.

From what I can find, the Titan was built in 1953 by St. Louis Shipbuilding & Steel Co. It was owned by Jones & Laughlin until it was sold to Mon River Towing in January 1983.

After a couple of ownership changes after that, it is now owned by Murray American River Towing, which renamed it the Luciana Moore a couple of years ago.

Here is how the Titan looks today, as seen around sunrise.

Murray American had McGinnis Inc. do some updating on the Titan a couple of years ago. The pilothouse was removed and a larger one installed, and it sits higher above the water. I assume the old pilothouse on the Titan and its sister boats such as the Aliquippa were kept low because of low bridges in the Pittsburgh area and/or on the Mon. 

From what I could find on Wikipedia:

The Jones & Laughlin Steel Company was founded in 1852 as the American Iron Company a few miles south of Pittsburgh on the Monongahela River. It became Jones & Laughlin in 1861. It began making steel in 1866 and expanded along the Mon and the Ohio for the next 60 years.J&L, known to its employees as J&L or Jane Ell, merged with Republic Steel in 1984 to form LTV Steel.

LTV Steel's parent, LTV Corp., filed for bankruptcy protection in 1986. It was the largest corporate bankruptcy case in U.S. history at the time. LTV Steel filed for bankruptcy protection in December 2000. Its assets were acquired about a year later by Wilbur Ross, who merged LTV Steel with Weirton Steel to form International Steel Group.

International Steel Group was acquired by Mittal Steel in 2005, which merged it with Arcelor to form ArcelorMittal in 2006. ArcelorMIttal is the world's largest steel company.

But the Titan and its sister boats were long gone by then. They are from a time when companies controlled every part of steel production. In the Ohio Valley, that meant owning the coal mines and when possible the means of transporting coal. It was the same with US Steel, which owned Ohio Barge Line until 1984 when it sold OBL's assets to Ingram.

Around that time, vertical integration had become an outdated concept and outsourcing (as opposed to offshoring) was in.

As far as I know, this is the only photo I have of a J&L boat, but who knows what I'll find when I dig through my film era archives again.