Phoenix Steel Corporation, Claymont Division miscellany1917-1985
The Phoenix Steel Company began in the late 18th century as a manufacturer of cut nails. It later became a major producer of railroad rails and iron and steel structural members. Claymont Division of the Phoenix Steel Corporation was established in 1960 when the company purchased the Claymont, Delaware steel plant from the Colorado Fuel and Iron Company. This small collection of materials originating from the Claymont steel plant includes miscellaneous plant announcements, catalogs, labor agreements, photographs, company-issued newsletters, and brief historical essays on the Phoenix Steel Corporation and its predecessors.
- Phoenix Steel Corporation (Organization)
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Some original materials were discarded due to mold and water damage. In such instances, preservation photocopies were generated to replace the originals.
The Phoenix Steel Company began in the late eighteenth century as a manufacturer of cut nails. It later became a major producer of railroad rails and iron and steel structural members. The Claymont Division of the Phoenix Steel Corporation was established in 1960 when the company purchased the Claymont, Delaware steel plant from the Colorado Fuel and Iron Company.
Construction on the plant began in 1917, when brothers William Penn Worth (1856-1923) and J. Sharpless Worth (1851-1922) formed the Worth Steel Company. Built along the Delaware River in Claymont, Delaware, the new steel plant produced basic open-hearth steel and primarily specialized in tank, ship, and boiler plate. The plant continued to be operated by the Worth family until 1951, when it was sold to the Colorado Fuel and Iron Company (CF&I).
CF&I invested over $10 million in modernizing the plant to meet the demands of an evolving steel market. Despite this, the plant was not a profitable investment for the company. In six of ten years of operation under CF&I management, the steel plant lost money and remained fundamentally unchanged from when the company purchased the operation in 1951. On October 1, 1960, CF&I took an after tax loss of $2.3 million when it sold the Claymont steel plant to the Phoenix Steel Corporation.
Phoenix Steel purchased the Claymont operation to combine and consolidate plate production after its Harrisburg plant suffered extensive financial losses throughout the late 1950s. Yet, despite investing over $4 million in a new heat treat plant and finishing line at Claymont, the plant continued to accumulate losses. In the early 1960s, Phoenix Steel management employed numerous cost-cutting measures to curb operating losses and, in 1968, implemented a $55 million modernization campaign that more than doubled production capacity.
With the company still hemorrhaging money in the early 1970s, upper management decided to undertake a complete rejuvenation of both the company’s facilities and personnel. In 1976, the “New” Phoenix Steel Corporation emerged, comprising new management teams in sales, engineering, production, administration, and marketing. French engineering conglomerate Creusot-Loire provided financial and technical assistance.
By 1983, Phoenix Steel and parent company Creusot-Loire reported steady financial losses, resulting in a bankruptcy filing the same year. In 2014, the plant’s new owners, Russian steel giant Evraz Group, announced its permanent closure.
Arranged alphabetically by document type and then chronologically.
Scope and Content
The Phoenix Steel Corporation, Claymont Division miscellany largely comprises assorted materials primarily related to the Claymont, Del. steel plant under the ownership of both Phoenix Steel and the Worth Steel Company.
Miscellaneous catalogs highlight products produced by both Worth Steel and its successor, Phoenix Steel, with a focus on flanged and dished heads, a well-known product turned out by the Claymont plant. Other pamphlets and booklets describe operational logistics of Phoenix Steel and the steel industry in general, while other publications and advertisements describe various processes of iron and steel making.
There is also a sporadic run of employee newsletters that cover plant and company announcements. However, many of these newsletters suffered severe water damage before their arrival to Hagley, and most were discarded in favor of preservation photocopies. Similarly, severely water damaged files of labor agreements covering such topics as collective bargaining, employee benefit modifications, and special seniority were also discarded in favor of preservation photocopies. There are also several different company produced iterations of the history of both the Phoenix Iron Works in Pheonixville, Pa., and the Claymont plant.
Lastly, photographs primarily depict the Claymont steel plant under the ownership of Worth Steel in the 1920s, and include aerial views of both the Claymont plant and the Chester blast furnace in Chester, Pa., the open-hearth melting floor, as well as other miscellaneous photos such as plant tours, exhibits, and finished products.
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Language of Materials
- Phoenix Steel Corporation (Organization)
Finding Aid & Administrative Information
- Phoenix Steel Corporation, Claymont Division miscellany
- Clayton J. Ruminski
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