Encyclopedia Of Forlorn Places

Lackawanna, New York

Lackawanna

Lackawanna, New York

Lackawanna Iron Company was founded in Scranton Pennsylvania in the 1840s by the Scranton family. The city changed it's name to Scranton in honor of the company's owners in 1851. Looking for a more compliant work force and easier access to raw materials, the Scrantons moved all of their steel production out of Scranton to a newly constructed facility on the shore of Lake Erie 1901. The land where the mill was built was originally part of West Seneca. The new mill placed enormous strains on the town of West Seneca due to Lackawanna Steel Co's demands for services and the thousands of newly arrived, low paid mill workers. In 1909 the area around the mill was partitioned and separated from West Seneca and incorporated as it's own town- Lackawanna. The mill constructed in 1901, was a marvel of modern engineering. The mill sprawled over 1,300 acres of lake front and was the largest steel making facility in the world for a few years after it opened. The site is a little over two miles long by over one mile wide. A ship canal was dug into the center of the property to facilitate the unloading of iron ore shipped from the iron ranges of the northwestern Great Lakes. The mill was sold to Bethlehem Steel in 1922 which led to more investment and expansion. In 1943 the plant employed over 20,000 people.

Lackawanna

Lackawanna, New York

In the late 1970s Bethlehem Steel company stopped investing in the Lackawanna mill. The company decided to focus modernization efforts on their Burns Harbor plant in Indiana. Bethlehem Steel closed most of the mill in 1983 and gradually shut down the rest over the years until the company went bankrupt in 2001. Since the mill closed almost all of the structures on the site have been demolished. The land is mostly empty now. Work is being done to clean up the site and make it ready for new industrial uses. The Buffalo area has an incredible over-supply of vacant industrial land so it's seems unlikely that many new industrial tenants will be moving in soon. A few electricity producing wind mills have been erected on the site's lakeshore. It's possible to drive part of the way into the site. There is a fair amount of truck traffic on the terrible roads from on-going clean up and salvage operations. There isn't really much left to see. Just a few scattered small buildings and foundation walls. Much of the site is reverting back to forest.

Lackawanna

Lackawanna, New York