Irondale, just north of Port Hadlock, was so named because a large iron ore smelter was built there in 1879. Samuel Hadlock, along with other local businessmen, created the Puget Sound Iron Company. The plant employed some 400 men and produced high-quality iron, which was shipped primarily to San Francisco. The plant closed in 1889, but was reopened several years later as the Western Steel Company. The president of Western Steel was James A. Moore, president of the Moran Brothers Shipbuilding Company in Seattle, which built the battleship USS Nebraska in 1901. Western Steel was supposed to be instrumental in building a railroad from Port Townsend to Portland, Oregon, and there was speculation that Moran Brothers might also establish a shipyard.
In 1909, the City of Irondale, one square mile platted in May, had a population of 1,500 and plans were made to accommodate a population of 20,000 within three years. One year later, the town the had a bank, a newspaper, three hotels, two brick buildings, 30 businesses, a hospital, scores of new houses, graded streets, electricity, telephones, a water and sewer system, and no unemployment. The steel mill, working around the clock, was producing approximately 700 tons of steel per week. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer declared in 1910 that Irondale had the potential“of becoming the largest and most important manufacturing city in Western America.”
But suddenly in 1911, Western Steel declared bankruptcy, causing Irondale’s collapse. After a brief period of operation during World War I (1917-1919) to use up stockpiled raw materials, the plant was dismantled. Today, Irondale is basically a residential area for the Port Hadlock Tri-Area.
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