WHEELING STEEL CORP. TOWBOAT FLEET by John Bowman

WHEELING STEEL CORP. – WHEELING-PITTSBURG STEEL CORP. WHEELING, WEST VIRGINIA

WHEELING STEEL & IRON CO. was formed by the consolidation of the Benwood, Belmont and Top Mills, and was incorporated April 16, 1892 as the Wheeling Steel Works.  Wheeling Steel’s plants in Wheeling in the early 1900s were the La Belle Works at Thirty-First Street, the Belmont Works at Twenty-Seventh and Main Streets, the Whitaker Works at East Twentieth Street, and the Top Mill in North Wheeling and Forty-Eighth Street.

Wheeling Steel Corp. Logo

WHEELING STEEL CORP. was formed June 21, 1920 from the LaBelle Iron Works, Whitaker-Glessner Company, and Wheeling Steel & Iron Company.  Wheeling Steel Corporation was headquartered in the twelve-story Schmulbach Wheeling Steel building, 1134 Market Street, Wheeling.  Wheeling Steel Corp. was acquired by Pittsburgh Steel to form the WHEELING-PITTSBURGH STEEL CORPORATION in December 1968.

Wheeling Steel’s production consisted of: coke, coal and coal by-products, pig iron, blooms, billets, slabs, sheet and tin bars, skelp, sheared plates, groove rolled plates, both standard black pipe, galvanized pipe and tubular oil goods.  Blue annealed sheets, black sheets, galvanized sheets, electrical sheets, full finished sheets, long terne sheets, black sheets, tin plate, lithographed and lacquered tin plate, wire rods, bright wire, annealed wire and galvanized wire.  Barbed wire, woven wire fence, bright and coated wire nails, cut steel nails, galvanized range boilers and steel drums, metal roofing, conductor pipe and trimmings, metal lath and extended metal, household wares, portable ovens, gas heaters, cans, pails and reinforced protection for vaults and safes.  The La Belle Works ships cut nails to all parts of the world and Japan is one of the large purchasers.[1][2]

WHEELING STEEL & IRON CO. TOWBOATS WHEELING STEEL & IRON CO. purchased the 1917 coal-fired steam-powered towboat H.P. Flesher in 1918.  She ran out of the Yorkville Works and later at the Portsmouth Works into 1923.

The 1917 coal-fired steam-powered towboat H.P. Flesher at Wheeling Liberty Marine Photo

WHEELING STEEL & IRON CO. purchased the 1921 coal-fired steam-powered towboat Transporter in 1922.  She ran out of the Steubenville and Wheeling Works into 1937.  She was a rebuild of the old Valiant towboat.  Transporter was the last wooden-hulled, Pittsburgh-style towboat on the river.

The 1921 coal-fired steam-powered towboat Transporter Liberty Marine Photo

WHEELING STEEL CORP. TOWBOATS Capt. Thomas Cavanaugh was the Master of Transportation at Wheeling Steel.

The coal-fired steam-powered towboat Carbon was built in 1902 for the R.C. (River Combine) and purchased in 1920 by WHEELING STEEL CORP.’S, LaBelle Steubenville Works.  She pooled coal out of the Allegheny River to the Follansbee Coke Works and the Steubenville Works into 1944.  Some Wheelingites would remember this old retired boat sitting at the Wheeling Island Marina used as a harbor boat into the early 1950s.

The 1902 coal-fired steam-powered towboat Carbon purchased in 1920 by the WHEELING STEEL CORP. Liberty Marine Photo

WHEELING STEEL CORP. purchased the 1917 coal-fired steam-powered towboat Conqueror in 1920.  She ran out of the Steubenville Works towing to the Portsmouth Works from 1920 – 1927.

The new 1917 coal-fired steam-powered towboat Conqueror photo
courtesy the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County Ohio

Whitaker-Glessner Co.’s Portsmouth Works of WHEELING STEEL CORP. purchased the 1918 coal-fired steam-powered towboat W.F. Smith in 1920.  She ran out of the Portsmouth Works into 1929.  Her engines in 1929 went to the new towboat Cop-R-Loy.

The coal-fired steam-powered towboat Lā Belle was built in 1921 for the WHEELING STEEL CORP.  She ran out of the Steubenville Works North Plant and Mingo Jct. Works South Plant into 1945.  Lā Belle was later named Edw. Smith and lastly A.B. Sheets.

The 1921 coal-fired steam-powered towboat Lā Belle built for the WHEELING STEEL CORP. Liberty Marine Photos
Lā Belle Towboat Model by John Bowman

The diesel-powered towboat D.A.B. was built in 1921 for the WHEELING STEEL CORP., and named for one of the company’s executives’, Mr. D.A. Burt.  She ran out of the Steubenville Works into 1950, and was later renamed Aunt Polly.

The 1921 diesel-powered towboat D.A.B. photo courtesy the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, Ohio

The 1926 coal-fired steam-powered towboat Steel City was chartered[1] to WHEELING STEEL CORP. from 1926 – 1927.

The new 1926 coal-fired steam-powered towboat Steel City was chartered to WHEELING STEEL CORP. Liberty Marine Photo

The diesel-powered towboat Benwood was built in 1927 for the WHEELING STEEL CORP.  She ran out of the Benwood and Steubenville Works into 1945.  Benwood had two diesel engines driving twin gear-driven sternwheels independently.

The 1927 diesel-powered towboat Benwood. She had two diesel engines driving twin gear-driven sternwheels independently photo courtesy the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County Ohio

The coal-fired steam-powered towboat Cop-R-Loy was built in 1929 for the Portsmouth Steel Co. that in 1929 became a part of the WHEELING STEEL CORP.  She ran out of the Portsmouth Works into 1950.    Her engines came from the old 1920 W.F. Smith towboat. 

The 1929 coal-fired steam-powered towboat Cop-R-Loy photo
courtesy the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County Ohio

The diesel-powered towboat Ductillite was built in 1940 for the WHEELING STEEL CORP.  She ran out of the Yorkville Works.  Ductillite was a new type of towboat with quarters below the waterline.

The 1940 diesel-powered towboat Ductillite photo courtesy the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County Ohio

The 1936 coal-fired steam-powered towboat Thomas Moses was chartered to WHEELING STEEL CORP. from 1944 – 1957 

The coal-fired steam-powered 1936 Thomas Moses Liberty Marine Photo

The 1936 coal-fired steam-powered towboat Ranger was chartered to WHEELING STEEL CORP. from 1945 – 1950.

The 1936 coal-fired steam-powered towboat Ranger Liberty Marine Photo

The 1940 diesel-powered towboat Polliwog was purchased in 1945 by WHEELING STEEL CORP.  Wheeling Steel changed her name to Principio thus honoring a just released 1945 book by Earl Chapin May, “Principio to Wheeling, a pageant of iron and steel 1715-1945”, the history of steel making in America.  She ran out of the Steubenville Works into 1954.  Here we have a photo of Polliwog in June of 1945 just before the name change.

The 1940 diesel-powered towboat Polliwog that became Principio John Bowman photo
Principio Wheeling Steel Corp.? Towboat photo from MARAD Pittsburgh Region Clean Cities

The diesel-powered towboat Wheeling was built in 1945 for the WHEELING STEEL CORP.  She ran out of the Steubenville Works into the 1950s.  She was originally named Frog and was a sister vessel to Principio.

The 1945 diesel-powered towboat Wheeling photo courtesy the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, Ohio

The diesel-powered towboat Lā Belle was built in 1947 for the WHEELING STEEL CORP. at Brownsville’s Hillman Barge & Construction Co., the same ways where the original Belle was built in 1921.  She ran on the upper Ohio into 1967.

La Belle” and “Onward” towboats from 1949 “Inland River Record” book
The 1947 diesel-powered towboat Lā Belle built for the WHEELING STEEL CORP. Liberty Marine Photo

The diesel-powered towboat Robert. E. Reed was built in 1958 for the WHEELING STEEL CORP.  She was named for Robert E. Reed the then Master of Transportation at Wheeling Steel.  Robert. E. Reed ran out of the Steubenville Works into 1967.  She was sold in 1967 and renamed Kenova.

The 1958 diesel-powered towboat Robert. E. Reed built for the WHEELING STEEL CORP. was sold in 1967 and renamed Kenova. John Bowman photo

In December 1967, WHEELING STEEL CORP. ended river transportation, and sold their last company owned towboats, the Lā Belle and the Robert. E. Reed, as the company was being acquired by Pittsburgh Steel to form the WHEELING-PITTSBURGH STEEL CORPORATION.  In 1968, there was no listing of towboats under WHEELING-PITTSBURGH STEEL CORPORATION.

Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel Corp. Logo

Wheeling Steel Towboat Photos

  1. Benwood courtesy the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County Ohio
  2. Carbon photo Liberty Photo Service Frederick J. McCabe
  3. Conqueror courtesy the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County Ohio
  4. Cop-R-Loy courtesy the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County Ohio
  5. D.A.B. courtesy the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County Ohio
  6. Ductillite courtesy the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County Ohio
  7. H.P. Flesher Liberty Marine Photos
  8. Lā Belle Liberty Marine Photos
  9. Lā Belle courtesy the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County Ohio
  10. Lā Belle model by John Bowman
  11. Principio Polliwog Photo John Bowman photo
  12. Ranger Liberty Marine Photos
  13. Robert. E. Reed  Kenova Photo John Bowman photo
  14. Steel City Liberty Marine Photos
  15. Thomas Moses Liberty Marine Photos
  16. Transporter photo Liberty Marine Photos Frederick J. McCabe
  17. W.F. Smith No Photo
  18. Wheeling courtesy the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County Ohio
  19. Wheeling Steel Corp. Logos
  20. Wheeling Steel Corp. Works Photo 1936 Wheeling Area Chamber of Commerce brochure

Photo of Wheeling Steel Corp. Works from a 1936 Wheeling Area Chamber of Commerce brochure.

Wheeling Steel Corp. Works from a 1936 Wheeling Area Chamber of Commerce brochure

Wheeling Steel’s Ohio and Monongahela River Towboats Served These Wheeling Steel Corp. Works and Plants

Ackermann Works, Warwood-Wheeling, West Virginia Stamping Allenport Works, Allenport, Pennsylvania Sheet Steel Beech Bottom Works, Beech Bottom, West Virginia ‘Steelcrete’ Stamping and Coating Benwood Works, Benwood, West Virginia  Tube and Pipe Mill Follansbee Works, Coketown-Follansbee West Virginia Coke Plant Wheeling, West Virginia, LaBelle Cut Nails Martins Ferry Works, Martins Ferry, Ohio, ‘Softite’ Galvanizing Monessen Works, Monessen, Pennsylvania, Steel Mill Portsmouth Works, Portsmouth, Ohio, Sheet Bar Steubenville Works, LaBelle Iron Works North Plant Steel Mill, and South Plant Steel Mill, Mingo, Jct., Ohio Wheeling Works, Wheeling, WV, Stamping and Fabricating Yorkville Works, Yorkville, Ohio, Steel Galvanizing

ENDNOTES and SOURCES


[1] Chartered denotes the same as Leased.

[1] Source: Bowman, John “Bills Of Lading Freight On Board Wheeling West Virginia” Wheeling 2012

[2] Source: Boyd, Peter, “History of Northern West Virginia Panhandle”, Vols.  I and II, Historical Publishing Co. Topeka-Indianapolis 1927 Pgs. 306-308

Source: Way, Frederick, Jr. “Inland River Record Steam and Diesel Vessels of the Mississippi River System in Operation” 1947 and 1968

Source: Way, Frederick, Jr., with Joseph W. Rutter “Way’s Steam Towboat Directory”, Sons and Daughters of Pioneer Rivermen, Ohio University, Athens, Ohio, 1990.

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