Monday, June 15, 2009

Geneva Steel Mill

A drive through Utah County in my childhood always presented some interesting landmarks.

One of the things I remember vividly were the pea viners that would be brought in to help with the harvest of peas.

Now days they are on wheels

In those years there were a lot of peas raised in Utah County in addition to Sugar Beets. In the early part of summer they would bring in these big harvesters to help with the peas and they would park them on the side of the fields because they were not on wheels and mobile and then they would strip the pea vines from the fields and feed them through the pea viners and out would come the peas all ready to use.

Sugar Beet Harvesters we used to pull

The other thing that was always there was Geneva Steel. Even when there was no freeway and we drove on highway 89/91 Geneva was still visible. Once the freeway was finished and in use Geneva became even more prominent as a landmark.
Back in 1941 the second world war was raging in Europe and also in Asia and the islands of the Pacific going south from Japan. Someone must have thought we would be engaged in the war because the government decided we needed another steel mill farther inland in case of an invasion like from the Japanese. About that same time the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor.

That prompted the building a steel mill in Utah Valley right there in the little town of Vineyard. Construction went from November 1941 to December 1944 and with it's completion it was the largest and the only full service steel mill west of the Mississippi and it was put into operation.

Geneva being constructed

This Utah Valley area was chosen because of being somewhat inland and harder to attack but also because of the close proximity to needed resources such as coal, iron ore, a closeness to good rail connections, those elements were needed to make it a viable operation.

The name Geneva was taken from a swimming resort that used to be on Utah Lake right close to the site of the steel mill. The Geneva Resort was said to be the nicest resort in the area and used to draw good crowds in the days when it existed.

Now it's all gone! Both the Resort and the Steel Mill.

The Building with the Furnaces used to sit right here!
The right side of the tracks was all buildings and the new front runner track will be on the left side

This is all that is left and I think they are processing slag!

Because of problems and competition in the industry Geneva had problems and in 1991 operations ceased and then went into bankruptcy and then the plant was sold off through the bankruptcy court. The land has been bought and development and clean up are still in process.
The face of the area has changed greatly and that landmark that could be seen from the freeway is just an empty field.

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