The Fall of an American Rome: Deindustrialization of the American Dream

By Quentin R. Skrabec Jr. | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 5. LORDSTOWN, THE ROUGE, AND CONNEAUT

The 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s saw the building of America’s great citadels of industry in Henry Ford’s massive and fully integrated car plant on the Rouge River, General Motor’s Lordstown plant, then the re-consideration of United States Steel’s Camelot steel mill at Conneaut, Ohio. These three plants were the dreams of a new type of global competition for America. The Ford Rouge plant made its own steel and glass. It was said it could produce a car in four days from raw materials such as iron ore, sand, limestone, and other basic materials. Lordstown was built in 1966 and was hailed as the quintessence of mass assembly in the world. Lordstown broke the 60-cars-an-hour record, producing 100 cars an hour using factory robots on a scale never seen before. Conneaut would be the dream left on the drawing board as the de-industrialization hit. A fully-integrated steel mill on Lake Erie at Conneaut, Ohio, had been a dream of Andrew Carnegie in 1898.

Ford would build his ultimate application of the assembly process at the River Rouge factory in the 1920s. The dream began in 1917’ Henry Ford’s vision included glassmaking, steelmaking, an iron foundry, a national railroad, machine shops, plastic molding department, and a massive assembly plant. Ford also planned to launch the building of the world’s largest factory with almost no loans from banks. The Rouge operation would evolve over eight years of building, allowing Ford’s managers to perfect new assembly methods. Ford visited daily, like Pha-

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