A bit of catch-up. Last January the Friday sketchers met at the Nucor Steel Plant just beneath the west Seattle Bridge. I had crossed the bridge many times but never really thought much about the industries beneath my tires. It was a beautiful crispy sunny day in Seattle and I met the group in the Nucor front office. We donned our safety vests and goggles and set off for the plant.
Having grown up on the south side of Chicago, the daughter of a steel family, the terminology was familiar but I’d never attached concrete objects to the words- blast furnace, steel rods, drop a load. The steel mills reigned as the king on the south side. My grandfather started his career in the mailroom of US steel in Pennslyvania. He took correspondence courses to earn an engineering degree and went on to become an executive in the company. My uncles worked for the steel industry; my dad worked as an engineer in steel-related industry; my cousins worked in the mills as a summer job. It was just in our family blood. Walking through the plant I felt like I was walking through my family history. I was entranced.
We had only a few designated spots where we could sketch. The control room was one. You had a full view of the electric-arc furnace, Nucor’s version of the blast furnace. And when they delivered the charge of scrap steel into the vat the blast of heat and fireball was breathtaking.
The next place we stopped was the yard where the scrap metal, a combination of crushed cars, old appliances, recycled rebar- anything that sticks to a magnet is picked up by giant magnets and moved to the melt shop where the electric furnaces melt it down.
We also got a quick walk through the rest of the plant to see more of the process and the resulting steel rods, trucks, warehouses and workers.
I came away with a new appreciation of the industry and fascinated with the way Nucor has become one of the state’s biggest recyclers. Thanks to Dave Sommers and Tina Koyama for setting up the outing.