Brian Boggs perhaps said it best just hours after he signed the final coil that came across the AK Steel Ashland Works coating line.
The 32-year electronics technician said, for decades, all anyone had to say was “the mill,” and everyone knew exactly to what place that person was referring.
Armco, which became AK Steel in 1994, raised families. It was full of tough, dirty jobs that made for comfortable living.
Steelworker was a no-brainer occupation destination for generations.
When it all began in 1921, Armco was capable of producing 40,000 tons of steel per month. It made history by becoming the first continuous rolling mill. Yep, right here in little bitty Ashland.
Local steelworkers witnessed changes, and rolled with them. Both the 6th Street and Norton furnaces shut down, but Bellefonte and Amanda were erected. Bellefonte went up in 1942, during World War II. Part of the furnace’s initial purpose was to assist in war defense.
Amanda was constructed in 1963.
On site are plaques marking the inception of each blast furnace.
For Bellefonte, it reads: “To future Americans: Today, in the midst of the most tragic war the world has ever suffered, this blast furnace, christened Bellefonte, was dedicated to the preservation of the Christian principles and human freedom by Wm. S. Knudsen, Lieut. General, USA and Geo. M. Verity, found of Armco. August 24, 1942 AD.”
For Amanda: “To the people of northeastern Kentucky: This blast furnace, christened Amanda in honor of its historic ancestor, was today dedicated to you in the sincere hope that it will contribute to your progress and well being as long as it may stand by Lynn Johnston, granddaughter of Logan T. Johnston, president of the Armco Steel Corporation. October 21, 1963.”
In the early 1990s, changes start to become more ominous. The glory days were numbered.
Bellefonte went cold on Pearl Harbor Day in 1991 — three years after workers relined the brick inside the furnace.
Armco purchased the Ashland Coke Plant in 1980. It closed in 2011.
Amanda went idle on Dec. 15, 2015.
Those are dates we’ll never forget.
The coating line was the last operating portion of AK Steel, nearly 100 years after Ashland Works’ birth.
Nov. 11, 2019, isn’t just another date to etch in the history book. It’s the last notable one. That’s when the final coil received its concluding coat.