September 30, 2010: Wheeling-La Belle Nail Company Closes


The Wheeling-La Belle Nail Company closed on September 30, 2010, ending more than 150 years in business. The company was founded in 1852 in South Wheeling as the La Belle Ironworks.

It manufactured cut nails—a key construction material in 19th-century America. By 1875, Wheeling was known as the Nail City, and La Belle was the city’s leading nail producer.

As cut nail use declined in favor of modern wire nails in the late 1800s, La Belle diversified its line by manufacturing tin plate and steel plates, tubes, and sheets. In 1920, La Belle merged with the Wheeling Iron and Steel Company and the Whitaker-Glessner Company to form the Wheeling Steel Corporation, which later became Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel. As part of this massive corporation, La Belle kept producing cut nails and developed a specialized market in hardened nails for masonry work.

D-Mac Industries bought the nail plant in 1997 and operated it as Wheeling-La Belle Nail Company. Amazingly, the company continued to use much of its original technology from the 1850s. Facing an economic downturn and foreign competition, though, Wheeling-La Belle Nail was finally forced to close.