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Wickwire Spencer Steel

Sitting alongside the Niagara River in Tonawanda, remnants of Buffalo's steel era sit crumbling. While some remain active, such as the Tonawanda Coke Corporation's facilities, most of the lands have been converted to other industries (including a power generation facility). But not all of the facilities have been touched... some still sit, letting nature take it's course.

Location attributes for Wickwire Spencer Steel
Location   Tonawanda, New York
Built :: Closed   1901 :: 1963
Status   Abandoned
Difficulty   ★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Hazards Risk   ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Security Risk   ★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
AUE Rating   ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

According to the Directory of Iron & Steek Works in the US and Canada, 28th Edition, 1957, the Wickwire Spencer plant opened in 1901, as the Wickwire Steel Company. The plant contained several buildings, and operated with two blast furnaces with a combined capacity of 420,000 tons, and 3 open hearths of 170 ton capacity. There was also a 32" blooming mill, a 18" billet mill, a 12" rod mill, and a 10" rod mill. Wickwire Spencer predominantly produced wire for use in chain link fences, with 58 wire drawing blocks in operation, the range of which were from .562" to .023".

In 1920, Wickwire Spencer Steel Corporation was founded through the merger of Clinton Wright Wire Company and Wickwire Steel. However, it ended up in recievership in 1925, in which a new company known as the Wickwire Spencer Steel Company acquire the corporation. Prior to 1951, the Wickwire Spencer Steel Company was acquired by the Colorado Fuel and Iron Corporation, and the plant was operated as the Wickwire Spencer Steel Division.

However, the latter half of the 20th century was not kind to the Buffalo area steel industries, with many of them closing up shop and relocating. Wickwire Spencer was no exception; the furnaces at Wickwire Spencer went cold permanently in 1963, joining many other Colorado Fuel & Iron plants that were shuttered around the same time.

Since then, the site has been used briefly for industrial waste disposal, and several of the building closer to the road are being actively used by other industries, but the vast majority of the Wickwire lands are unutilized, including the decaying powerhouse building. Copyrighted arial photographs from the 1950's, which I can't post in any usable form here, show that there was a larger building immediately adjacent to the powerhouse, that has since been removed.

No word has been given as to what will happen with the land, so for now, the remnants of the powerhouse will continue to stand, nature slowly bringing it down brick by brick.

Drawn Through - August 2012
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