Thursday, September 22, 2016

Early rails came from England and Joliet Iron Works

Many railroads in the Midwest were constructed in the early 1950s. During the 1950s, there was no plant in America that could make rails. So they were imported from England. "They arrived in U-shape form so they could be transported across the ocean in the hold of a ship. They were re-heated and straightened out on arrival." [ble-t]

Steve OConnor posted
Where there's steel - there's railroads.
The “City of Steel” emerged with the construction of the Joliet steel plant in 1869 under the ownership of the Union, Coal Iron and Transportation Co. and produced iron rails. In 1873 the mill was reorganized as the Joliet Iron and Steel Co., when two of the five-ton Bessemer converters that revolutionized the industry were built there and were among the earliest used in the United States. The rolling mill, a key element of the works, struck its first blow in March 1873. Railroad rails rolled at the Joliet Works played a key role in the expansion of America's railroad infrastructure. Soon the Joliet Iron and Steel Works was the second largest steel mill in the United States. While canal construction (Illinois & Michigan Canal) drew Irish immigrants, the steel mill attracted thousands of southeastern Europeans. These new immigrants also found jobs on the railroad that serviced the steel mill, the Elgin, Joliet & Eastern Railway.
The plant became part of the Illinois Steel Co. in 1889, which in turn was part of the formation of U.S. Steel in 1901.
Approximately 1,500 were employed at the site during peak production years, and at one time the plant was the largest nail producer in the world. Although steel production at the massive blast furnances on the site was halted after World War II, the plant continued to produce rod and wire specialty products until most of the operations were shut down in the 1970s. [ChicagoTribune]
As with many steel plants in Illinois, this one no longer exists. Larger, more efficient plants have been built elsewhere. Some are still in northwest Indiana. Many are now in China and other countries. The other 28 business parks US Steel developed from their closed steel plants started with bulldozing what was their to give them a "clean slate" for development. But in this case they respected that they are close to the I&M Canal Heritage Corridor and preserved the ruins of the original plant. They have added signs and paths so that you can safely walk through the ruins. And they created a trail to the ruins with a headend that has plenty of parking and a restroom. I have taken so many pictures of these ruins and their signs that I am still psyching up to write a posting about it.

Update: I have simply uploaded all of the pictures I took.

1939 Aerial Photo from ILHAP
Frank Smitty Schmidt posted 2 photos with the comment:
Detroit Photographic / Library of Congress photo of the Illinois Steel Joliet Works in 1901. The old C&A (now UP) line ran right through it.In the second picture, I cropped the original down to try to get a little more detail of the engine on the elevated track.

Frank Smitty Schmidt posted
US Steel Joliet in the early 1950's.
Santa Fe yard along the river, GM&O line through the steel plant, EJ&E main line & DesPlaines River bridge, and the EJ&E interchange with the GM&O.Gregg Wolfersheim WOW! It makes the old prison look small.Alexander Gerdow Nice shot. It was hard finding a picture of the works. Did they have blast furnaces?Frank Smitty Schmidt At one time it was the second largest steel mill in the US and had 4 blast furnaces.Richard Mead Went there on a tour when I was a that time they were making a lot of wire.
Roger Kujawa posted
Illinois Steel Coke ovens Joliet, Illinois on the EJ&E railroad.

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