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Newsweek chronicles decline of Texas steel town


On this day in 1986, Newsweek magazine published an article detailing the economic problems in Lone Star, Texas, in southern Morris County. The site was probably settled around the time of the Civil War, but a community did not develop until the 1930s, when Dallas-based Lone Star Steel established a steel mill in the area. During World War II the plant expanded to cover 600 acres and employed as many as 6,000 workers. Many of the workers settled in the area, and by the mid-1950s Lone Star was an incorporated city with a reported population of 1,131. The town continued to prosper in the 1970s, and in 1980 it had a population of 2,006 and eighty-six businesses. In 1981, thanks in part to the steel industry, Morris County ranked twenty-ninth among the state's 254 counties in per capita income--the highest among the sixteen counties in the northeastern corner of the state. During the 1980s, however, the steel plant began having economic difficulties, mainly because of the slump in the oil industry and competition from foreign steel suppliers. In 1986 company officials laid off 2,000 of their 3,800 employees. Subsequently the town declined, and by 1990 its population had fallen to 1,615. In that year Lone Star Steel filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy and was subsequently reorganized. In 2000 the town's population was 1,631.

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