Friday, August 21, 2015

Illinois Zinc and ACME Scales in Peru, IL

1939 Aerial Photo from ILHAP
While researching a building that looked like it might have been a freight house, I learned that the industrial area between Water/Brunner Street and the IR/.../CB&Q/IV&N railroad was occupied by the Illinois Zinc Company in 1916. By 1939, much of the smelting operation had been torn down. But the rolling mill still looked operational.

I have not been able to find any additional info on Illinois Zinc. When I Google it, I get results for the other zinc smelting plant in La Salle, Matthiessen and Hegeler Zinc Company.

I analyzed Sanborn Maps from 1888, 1897, 1906, 1916, and 1926. The apex of the plant was reached by 1916 and that configuration remained until 1926. The following two sheets are from 1926.

Peru, 1926 Feb., Sheet 011
Peru, 1926 Feb., Sheet 012

Comparing the 1909 and 1916 maps shows Kiln 4 and Furnace 1 were built during that interval. And the Oxide Storage building was added on the north side of the Acid Building.

There were significant changes between 1888 and 1889 and between 1889 and 1906 so I include both of the 1800s maps. Unfortunately, the clockwise rotation that I did on the screen is not reflected in the TIFF file that I downloaded. Also note on the 1888-06 and 1897-10 Sheets the "Chas. Brunner's Peru Foundry & Machine Shop M'rs of the ACME Scale." Obviously, the street along the river was named for Charles Brunner. I remember that the scale that was in the IC Freight House in Mattoon, IL, was an ACME Scale.

Peru, 1888 Oct., Sheet 006

Peru, 1897 Dec., Sheet 006

Peru, 1897 Dec., Sheet 010
Roger Kujawa posted
Illinois Zinc company Peru, Illinois early 1900's. Probably Rock Island or Burlington served industry.
David Lucas I'm glad I wasn't living downwind from that plant.
Harold J. Krewer This wasn't even the only zinc mill in the neighborhood...The Mathiessen & Hegeler Zinc Mill right next door in LaSalle was even bigger. Served by the LaSalle & Bureau County. There was also New Jersey Zinc down the river a ways in DePue.

Patrick McNamara commented on the above posting
The 1898 Rand McNally Railroad Map of Illinois shows Peru on the Illinois Central Main Line.


  1. Very nice discussion. I recently found the Sanborn Fire Insurance maps for Illinois online in color at
    Because all the buildings are color coded by material type it is nice to have the color for better info.

  2. Thanks so much for all your efforts, this is a great source for helping to put together a family history

  3. My great great grandfather Archibald Means was one of the five original stockholders of the Illinois Zinc Company and later became general manager, and his son (William Ellison Means) became assistant general manager. Found a little information on this stock photo site (apparently taken from book called "Notable Men of Illinois and Their State) :

  4. I wish I could find more photos of Illinois Zinc, I’ve emailed several Universities and so far no luck