The Leetonia Iron & Coal Company constructed 200 beehive coke ovens to purify coal and turn it into coke circa 1866 in Leetonia. 3 4 5 The coke was 86% to 93% free of carbon and burned a clean, intense heat when loaded into pig-iron blast furnaces to produce iron and steel. 1
Leetonia Iron & Coal went bankrupt in 1873 and the operations were taken over by the Cherry Valley Iron Works. 6 At the operation’s peak in 1900, the ovens were producing over 70,000 tons of coke annually.
The advent of byproduct coke ovens in the early 20th century, which captured and recycled the chemical byproducts that were expelled during the coking process, such as ammonia, light oil, and tar, led to the demise of beehive coke ovens. 2 The byproducts laid the foundations of modern chemical and plastic industries. The byproduct coke ovens also yielded 75% more coke per ton of coal.
The advent of the Great Depression forced the closure of the outdated coke ovens in Leetonia. The site was donated to the village for a park in 1982, which opened to the public in 1986. 5 The ovens were placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1993 as it represented one of the largest remaining intact beehive coke ovens in North America. 7
- Washlaski, Ryan P. “Manufacture of Coke.” Pennsylvania Iron Furnace Sourcebook, article.
- “Coke Ovens [Bituminous Coal] Historical Marker.” Explore PA History, article.
- “Leetonia Cherry Valley Coke Ovens”. Village of Leetonia, article.
- Wilkinson, D. A. “Leetonia seeks to expand historical site.” Vindicator [Youngstown], 9 May 2010.
- Tullis, Nancy.” Cherry Valley Coke Ovens Park seeks $5,500 for storm damage.” Vindicator [Youngstown], 9 Aug. 2003.
- Carey, Miriam, and Ian Adams. Backroads of Ohio: Your Guide to Ohio’s Most Scenic Backroad Adventures. Voyageur, 2007, p. 68.
- Greier, Mary Ann. “Leetonia coke ovens earn prestigious award.” Morning Journal [Lisbon], 30 Oct. 2010.