During WWII, the New Boston Steel Mill was owned by Wheeling Steel, and made — among other things — steel casings for 500-pound bombs used in the war. The casings were fabricated in New Boston as part of a top-secret project, and then sent to another location to be assembled with its fins and explosive materials.
The plant stretched the entire length of New Boston, along the Ohio River, and at its peak employed about 6,000 people. When the bomb program ended, all the steel and the remaining cases were scrapped. Operations at the steel plant began to decline and it closed in the 1980s, leaving on the New Boston Coke Plant, which closed in 2002. The land now is occupied by New Boston shopping malls.
A bomb casing manufactured at the plant was recovered many years ago by former employee Curt Ferguson, and was passed to his son, Al Ferguson, in Stockdale. Two years ago, the bomb was pulled out of storage and donated to the village for display.
This week, New Boston Mayor James Warren unveiled the bomb display in the lobby of the village offices.
“This is a historical part of New Boston, when Wheeling Steel was in business and had a bomb shop over there (Bomb Shop No. 17). It was an important part of the war effort, and a lot of our families were working in the mill at that time. This is part of the history of what New Boston was about,” Warren said.
The bomb casing is on permanent loan to the village from the Ferguson family. It was sand-blasted clean by SFI of Ohio in New Boston, and painted by Don Winters, who also made a display stand.
Warren invites everyone to check out the historical items on display at the village office, assembled by Warren with help from former teacher and local historian Steve Jenkins.
RYAN SCOTT OTTNEY can be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 235, or firstname.lastname@example.org.