Ellwood Shafting & Tubing Company was the first manufacturing institution to establish itself in Ellwood City in 1891 and the first to manufacture seamless tubing in the United States. Just three years later in October of 1894, the Ellwood Shafting & Tube Company was sold to H.A. Lozier the “Bicycle King of America” and the name of the company was changed to Ellwood Weldless Tube Company. The founder of Ellwood City, Henry W. Hartman was appointed vice president of the new company. The Ellwood plant was only the second seamless tube plant in America. Also in 1894, Ralph C. Stiefel came to the Ellwood City from England for the company. Along with becoming a stockholder in the company, Stiefel accepted the position of general manager and introduced his own patented process for making seamless tubing. Ellwood Weldless became the first company in the United States to make tubing by the Stiefel method making it one of the leaders in the tubing industry.
In the early part of 1897, The Weldless Tubing Co. built a new plant located between Sixth and Eighth Street stretching from Beaver to Factory Streets. By the fall of the same year, the new plant was absorbed by the Shelby Steel Tube Company and would become known as Mill “B”. Ellwood Weldless Tube Co.’s name was also changed to the Shelby Steel Tube Company. The newly formed Shelby Steel Tube Co. was actually a merger of plants in Shelby Ohio, Greenville PA, and the Ellwood Weldless Tube Company. Mr. Emsworth of Ellwood City was named the first Superintendent and R.C. Stiefel was appointed manager.
From the time Ralph C. Stiefel accepted the position of Superintendent at Ellwood Seamless Tube Co. straight from England, he was connected with the Shelby Seamless Tube Company until 1899. At that time along with J.H. Nicholson, he left the Shelby Company and erected the Standard Seamless Tube Company with some friends in Ellwood City and was in direct competition with Shelby Seamless. The National Steel Tube Co. bought the Standard Company in 1901.
Soon after National purchased Standard, the United States Steel Corporation absorbed National Tube and at the end of June 1901, it also absorbed the Shelby Steel Tube Company and Mr. Stiefel was made General Superintendent of all the plants in the country. Now all the seamless tube works were now conducted under the name of the Shelby Steel Tube Company.
In 1905, the U.S. Steel Ellwood plant consolidated Shelby Steel Tube Company (Mill A) and National Steel Tube Company (Mill B) and became National Tube Company (a subsidiary of United States Steel Corporation). After a fire destroyed the Shelby Ohio Works plant in 1908, all the seamless tube works was produced in Ellwood City. Due to the growth, the Ellwood City Works of the National Tube Company expanded to 127 total acres with 23 acres under a roof. The plants were served by direct connection with the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad and by the Pittsburgh & Lake Erie Railroad. The Ellwood Works had an annual capacity of 350,000 gross tons of tubular goods in 1942. Employment during World War II reached 4,000 employees.
August 1,1946 an announcement was made that operations at the Ellwood Works would be phased out over a three year period. The closing was avoided and 1959 saw major expansion adding two new structures for stainless steel adding 40,000 more square feet. In 1974, U.S. Steel closed its doors in Ellwood City and the last seamless tube was produced at the National Tube Company. When the plant closed employment had dipped down to a little over one thousand people.
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Originally Published July 15, 2009