Sparrows Point steel built the Golden Gate Bridge and Maryland's Bay Bridge, along with hundreds of ships for World War II, but recent years have not been kind. Environmental Liability Transfer and Hilco are Sparrows Point's sixth owners in less than a decade, a tumultuous stretch for workers that included the bankruptcy case of longtime owner Bethlehem Steel.

Some analysts thought the Baltimore County facility would land a new operator, but others were pessimistic from the start, given its age and the tough steel market.

Steel analyst Chuck Bradford suggested last summer that Nucor might want to buy the cold mill "to pick up and move somewhere else." It's a "very good" mill, he said.

"Almost nothing else has any value," Bradford added.

Deborah Rudacille, writer of the book "Roots of Steel: Boom and Bust in an American Mill Town," a workers' history of Sparrows Point, said last summer that Sparrows Point becoming scrap would be sadly ironic. It was built in part from the remains of the Ashland Iron Works in Cockeysville.

"It's just dreadful that we have let our steel industry atrophy as we have," she said. "I don't think any good can come of it."

  • Text BUSINESS to 70701 to get Baltimore Sun Business text alerts