Alpha Portland Cement Company is a former cement manufacturing plant in Ironton, Ohio. Abandoned for decades, the complex was demolished in 2010.
The Ironton Portland Cement Company was founded in the late 1800’s and later acquired by the Ironton Cement Company, with limestone quarried from open pits.8 In 1910, the company discovered a 100-foot thick vein of limestone 575 feet under the plant property while drilling for natural gas and an underground mine was started.8 Ironton Cement Company was purchased by the Alpha Portland Cement Company in 1920.
In May of 1924, two concrete stock houses were constructed by the Macdonald Engineering Company. The structures were built with a moveable form so that the concrete could be poured continuously. An average of eight feet per day in height was constructed. The stockhouses, consisting of eight bins 33-feet wide by 80-feet high, had a storage capacity of 170,000 barrels of cement.
The finished cement at the storage plants was carried by screw conveyors and bucket elevators from the finish mill to the stockhouse for storing. When it was ready to ship to customers, the cement was drawn from the bottom of the silos into screw conveyors, carrying the cement to bucket elevators which elevated the cement to screens above the packing bins. Each packing bin held approximately 350 barrels of cement. The screens contained perforated housings to catch spray material or heavy lumps of cement from going to the packers. From there, the fine cement was carried via belt conveyors to hand trucks for busing into waiting railroad cars.
The last tax appraisal of Alpha Portland Cement was completed in 1968. The factory closed on August 20, 1970 due to its negative profitability, leaving 175 employees out of work; it’s most profitable years were in the mid-1950’s. The aging facility was also not competitive with more modern and nimble facilities.
The cement plant was also not compliant with newly instituted environmental regulations that curtailed particulate pollution. Alpha Portland was a major contributor to pollution in the region and the cost to modernize the factory and install pollution control devices was prohibitively expensive.
Post-closure, the cement company continued to own the property and pay taxes for ten years, which amounted to $57,000 annually. The mines beneath the plant, some of which went down as far as 571 feet, became flooded as the water pumps were disabled and later removed. By the late 1990’s, the abandoned site drew increased scrutiny from the county.
In 2003, a small shed was constructed on-site to shred metal objects for scrap but it was not until 2010 that the Alpha Portland Cement plant was demolished.