Our local steel mill, which at one time had 6 blast furnaces, a coke plant, and a bank of something like 14 open hearth furnaces, recieved materials and shipped product in a variety of ways. The open hearths were replaced in the mid 1970s with a BPO (Basic Oxygen Process) shop for environmental (and produtivity).reasons.
Most raw ore, mostly Taconite, came in by Great Lakes ore boats, originally unloaded by a bank of 4 Hullets, which were eventually torn down as the fleets were converted to self unloaders. A smaller portion came by rail in hoppers.
They recieved coal and other bulk goods, including the various metals used for alloys, and scrap steel, by rail in hopers and gondolas. Occasionally some materials and other goods came in boxes and peridic tank cars. Also, some goods came in by truck. The plant also recieves material for it's own on-site water treatment plant.
Coal was conerted to coke in the coke ovens. Sometimes the local plant would ship out coke to other plants, sometimes they would have coke shipped in from other plants. Eventually the coke plant was shut down and torn down. Didn't meet EPA standards, and was too old to economically update.
The slag from the process was dumped on plant grounds by slag ladle cars similar to the State and Walthers. A very impressive sight at night. Also apparently rather dangerous.
The cooled slag was broken up in rock crushers and shippped out either in hoppers or trucks as building materials (Gravel).
Finished product, cast iron and steel products, seemed and seemless tubing, bars, rods, coils, pigs, ingots, etc., went out in gondolas, flats, coil cars, whatever was neded, including road truck. Sometimes molten iron and steel was shipped out (or even in) in the "Torpedo" insulated ladle cars. as model by State tool and Die, Walthers, and Plastistruct.
Some years ago, somebody screwed up royal with sheduling the movement of a loaded Torpedo car in plant. The load "froze" in the car. The car was spotted near a fence on the edge of the plant for over two weeks till the load had cooled enough to work on. Then some crews were working on it 24/7 with oxygen lances for another month to burn the metal out of it.
This plant is highly dependent on rail. In fact, it is serviced from one side by the Chessie (formerly B&
O) and the Norfolk Southern on the other, with it's own internal rail system interchanging with both. The current roster shows 12 diesels, from 900 to 1500 hp,mostly EMD, but also one or two Alcos, and a Lima. I think up till about 10-15 years ago, they even had a Whitcomb 65 ton. Most of the locos have been converted for R/C operation.There are also quite a few in-plant specialty cars.
A steel plant could form a fairly complete very active railroad layout in it's own right.