by Leanne Turner
This quiet town is south of Niles, east of Mineral Ridge, west of Girard, and north of Youngstown. Most people have no idea how to get there...but if they take the time to go, they find a quiet and lovely town with tree-lined streets, a place where neighbors say that they look out for each other. For many years it has been called "Ohio's finest village" and its signs state that.
McDonald was named for the general superintendent of the Youngstown District of Carnegie Steel Co. The purpose of "McDonald Mills" was to finish raw steel from the Ohio Works plant in Youngstown. The company provided more than an income for its workers and their families; the village included entertainment, a community building with a library and church, a park and schools. Original dwellings were built with the idea that no two should be alike in the same 4-street area. Houses belonged to the company and were rented to the families who worked for the company. This practice ended in 1941 when anti-trust laws were passed and CSC sold the houses to employees.
The buyer, John Galbreath, purchased the water and electric distribution systems with the real estate. In the sale disclosure, "Woodland Park" was described as "a beauty spot with many fine oak, maple and evergreen and elm trees, together with the developed playgrounds, tennis courts, shelter house and other features." But the new owner had none of the aesthetic vision that Carnegie had demonstrated. By 1950, Galbreath had built street after street of prefabricated homes.
The 1980's had the same impact on McDonald as other steel towns: the plant closed. But, in 1982, McDonald Steel was reactivated. The plant became a leading domestic producer of hot-rolled steel shapes. The new company president explained that teamwork made all the
difference in making the mill productive and competitive, as did innovative thinking. A change in the time of the rolling schedule put the work on the overnight shift to take advantage of off-peak electric rates. These efforts paid off in 1983 - one of the worst seen in the steel industry since the Great Depression of the 1930s.
McDonald Steel continued to produce its steel shapes. In 1991, the employees voted against the union; the legacy of a company-town history continues to differentiate McDonald from the nine other communities on the mainstem of the Mahoning River.
Other industries exist in this former company town. For example: Dehl Industrial products (Harsco Co.) supplied and processed basic raw material for steel-making; Standard Slag continued its post-steel production of material; McDonald Welding & Machine Co. serviced the industry with ferrous, non-ferrous and exotic metals.
Then, this close-knit community decided to make something new happen: Woodland Park Retirement Apartments. This venture was a model for all of the Mahoning Valley. Using methods proven elsewhere in Ohio, the Village built this facility by contributing land and locating an experienced property manager to put together the project. Funding came from a cooperative venture between private and public monies. It opened in 1992.
In 1999, steps were taken to put the community center and a section of the Village of McDonald on the National Register of Historic Places. This 'company town' has a unique historical, educational and preservation importance.
Says Mayor Border, " McDonald is a town with a lot of history. It's a friendly town. It's Trumbull County's best kept secret." And, he added one more thing that all of Mahoning Valley can take to heart as we proceed with the Mahoning River cleanup project, " We're all on the same team."
Visitors since February 2003