Despair and hope: The lives of two former steelworkers

2 Videos

It has been a year since Sparrows Point steel mill has closed its doors. The sounds of the one-time bustling steel giant has gone silent, still echoing only in the memories of workers and Dundalk residents nearby. At one entrance off I-695 and Route 158, a sign seen from the massive complex reads “America: Strong as Steel!”, which serves as a reminder of the past. In the coming years, the entire facility will be razed and the steel plant will only be a footnote in Baltimore’s history.

Over the weekend, the Baltimore Sun launched an interactive story that looks at Sparrows Point one year later, and the impact it has had on its former steelworkers. Two of those stories featured in video include that of Bob Jennings and Troy Pritt — both dealing with the loss of an identity and both illustrating stories of despair and hope. Over the last two months, the Jennings and Pritt families opened up their lives to The Sun. Here are their stories.

VIEW THE INTERACTIVE STORY — Sparrows Point: A year after bankruptcy, unsettled lives

Videos produced by Stokely Baksh. | American steel photo on Darkroom homepage taken by Karl Merton Ferron. | Project photos taken by Barbara Haddock Taylor.

Bob Jennings had worked at Sparrows Point for more than 30 years before he was laid off in June 2012. In August 2012, the steel mill closed and by December, all hope disappeared that the Baltimore institution would ever reopen. Over the months, family members said Jennings had changed: He was quieter. Stopped telling jokes. Slept less.

Turning to Hopelessness from The Darkroom on Vimeo.

At 44, Troy Pritt is a full-time student at the University of Baltimore, where he is obtaining a business degree. Although, the former Sparrows Point steel mill worker compares the closure of the mill to the loss of a parent, he isn’t looking back. Instead, he’s looking ahead at a new career and identity.

Back to School from The Darkroom on Vimeo.