Monday, November 23, 2015

Cliffs/ArcelorMittal/Interlake/Acme Steel Mill at Riverdale, IL


Interlake/Acme used to also have an iron (blast furnaces) and coke plant in Chicago.

Pennsy switch engine on the Panhandle line
in Riverdale switching out Acme Steel.
I first learned about this steel plant while studying the Chicago and Great Eastern part of PRR's Panhandle line. David's Facebook posting of the picture on the right motivated me to learn more about the steel plant.

Just as railroads acquire different names throughout history as they are absorbed by other companies, steel companies also tend to have a name history. The current owner is ArcelorMittal.

Acme founded the 114-acre site in 1910 and had a mill running by 1918. Acme replaced that mill with this (below) 1996 state-of-art hot-roll mill. The production facilities of the mill are "basic oxygen furnace; compact strip production facility: ladle metallurgy facility, continuous thin slab caster, tunnel furnace, hot strip mill" (Facts) The tunnel furnace uses 193 rolls. (Video)

Frontier to Heartland
The hot-rolled coils are then shipped to cold-roll mills for further finishing.

David posted a couple more historic pictures as comments to the above posting.
David's comment
David's comment
Google "Streetview"

1938 Aerial Photo from ILHAP
As one would expect, the 1938 aerial view and the 1951 Sanborn Map has the configuration of the 1918 mill. You can see in the Google image that they used vacant land to build the new mill and have torn down the old mill.

I remember seeing a picture that showed a modern CSX engine by the plant, but I can't find that picture again. But it makes sense that CSX would get this Pennsy remnant when Conrail broke up because it could be easily connected to its B&OCT tracks on the east side of Barr Yard.

Update: ACME Steel/Interlake Riverdale Plymouth No. 3 Locomotive

ACME Steel/Interlake Riverdale Blast Furnace Plant and Wisconsin Steel

Steve OConnor posted the Blast Furnace photo, evidently illegally because he provided the link that clearly says at the bottom that you can't use the photo on the web without permission. It looks like there is a gas holding tank on the left of the photo. Steve's comment:
A maze of rail yards surrounds the ACME/Interlake Steel Company plant near Calumet. Blast furnaces "A" and "B" to the north, multiple ore bridges, the suspension bridge conveying coke and gas from the coke plant, and the sintering plant to the south.…/…/collection/pshs02/id/9/rec/71

Sanborn Cook County Vol. 1 - East, Sheet 91

Raymond Boothe posted
Pictured is the Interlake Inc. Riverdale Steel Plant and Factory. As you can see only the BOF (lower right hand of the picture and office building (direct upper left) still stand today. The entire factory and rolling mill are now gone. Right above the old main factory in the open field is where ArcelorMittal's con-caster stands today.
Raymond Boothe Question: Name some products that were made beside steel in the Riverdale Factory?Raymond Boothe Book stitching machines, strapping machines, steel and plastic strapping materials, storage racks, scissors, business cutting machines and other small metal items.

Raymond Boothe posted
Cliffs Steel Riverdale: Torpedo Car No. 144 sitting outside the BOF Shop (Dr. Raymond Boothe photograph).

Joe Usselman posted
A couple old school EMD's lead a train out of Barr yard in Riverdale in early 2017.
One of several photos posted byTony Margis from a tour. They are blurry because of the low light, but you can get a good feel for the line of rolling stands and the hot sheet metal passing through them.

Karen Brozynski also posted some photos from that tour with the comment:
Arcelor Mittal celebrated the 100th Anniversary of the plant in Riverdale. Got to take a tour. I never appreciated just how HOT it is in a steel plant. If a family member worked in a mill or still does it is not work for the weak. We were in the rolling mill. Met some great people who worked there. Might get some donations out of it.






Street View
I was verifying that SEPA #4 has a closed gate across its entrance.]

safe_image for a John McCluskey Album of 239 Views

Since I don't know exactly which ones of these photos were taken at Riverdale and which were taken at the blast furnace plant, I include them all.
Lost Illinois Manufacturing posted thirteen photos with the comment:
Acme Steel Co.The Acme Flexible Clasp Co. was founded in Chicago in 1884. In 1899, the company merged with the Quincy Hardware Manufacturing Co. of Quincy, Illinois, a manufacturer of barbed steel staples led by James E. MacMurray. The new company, based in Chicago, changed its name to the Acme Steel Goods Co. in 1907; in 1925, it became Acme Steel Co. By the mid-1930s (during the Great Depression), Acme employed about 1,400 Chicago-area residents. A new plant opened in Riverdale, Illinois, in 1918; by the end of the 1950s, when annual sales of well over $100 million placed Acme among the top 300 industrial corporations in the United States, the move from Chicago to Riverdale was complete. In 1964, Acme merged with the Interlake Iron Corp., a Cleveland-based company that owned plants in Chicago, to form the Interlake Steel Corp. In the mid-1970s, as its annual sales approached $700 million, Interlake had 3,500 workers in the Chicago area. A new Acme spun off from Interlake in 1986. The company had trouble staying afloat and employed only about 1,200 local residents by the end of the 1990s, a number that fell as a phased shutdown was begun in 2001. In 2002, the International Steel Group, organized by WL Ross & Co. LLC, bought the shuttered and bankrupt Acme Steel and re-opened it as ISG Riverdale Inc., a sheet minimill employing about 200 workers.…/Acme%20Steel%20Comp…/mode/exact
 [Some of these photos are of the Riverdale plant such as the one that William Grin identified as the BOF.]
Michael Hrysko What year would this be when the picture was taken ?



William Grin This is a photo of A Furnace being built 30's.
Bob Callahan Can't be. Look at the yellow front end loader at the lower left of the tower. Also, that looks like a station wagon by the office trailer pictured. That's gotta be the 1960's or 70's. That's a quenching tower, that's part of the coke ovens.


William Grin This is a Ariel view of Acme Steel and Wisconsin Steel and Republic Steel.


William Grin This is at the BOF pouring molten steel into Ingot moulds.

David Daruszka comment on a post

William Grin This was No. 4 Coke belt going over the Calumet river. The Coke plant was on Torrence Avenue in South Deering.Dennis DeBruler In the background near the right side of the photo is the quenching tower and two smokestacks of the coke plant.,-87.../data=!3m1!1e3




Kevin Piper posted this comment along with seven photos.
A new company, based in Chicago, became the Acme Steel Goods Co. in 1907. In 1925, it became the Acme Steel Co. By the mid-1930's and during the Great Depression, Acme still employed about 1400 Chicago-area residents. A new plant opened in Riverdale, Illinois, in 1918. The company specialized in heavy staples and steel straps and banding. By 1964, Acme merged with the Interlake Iron Corp., a Cleveland-based company that owned plants in Chicago, to form the "Interlake Steel" Corp. In the mid-1970's, at its peak, Interlake had about 3500 workers in the Chicago area. I remember it well as a young boy. A new Acme Steel spun off from troubled Interlake in 1986. The new company had trouble staying in business and employed then about 1200 by the end of the 1990's. That number quickly fell as a phased shutdown began in 2001. In 2002, bankrupt Acme Steel re-opened as ISG Riverdale Inc., a sheet minimill employing only about 200 workers. Today the area is owned by ArchlorMittal Corp., and not much is known about the plant or its operations.

Jon Mossman commented on safe_image, cropped
I'm at riverdale running a pot hauler right now.
[I see the front tires on the sides. He must be tilting the pot forward.]
Dennis DeBruler commented
So has pot hauling with steel wheels been replaced by rubber wheels? Do the pot haulers also replace overhead crane operations?

safe_image for John McCluskey Flickr
This crane is being used to break up the slag in a steel mill after it cools so that the chunks can be shipped out in gondolas.
Bradley Anders: The Nucor in ahoskie nc crushes it into crusher run 57 and ballast stone. It’s basically impure minerals that make steel not steel. I have a video I posted on here of a crane drop balling at that same plant years back just search my name.
Bradley Anders
 Found it:
[Update: unfortunately, the Manitowoc Groups has been deleted]
James Torgeson posted

James Torgeson posted
Caster at ArcelorMittal Riverdale. May 29, 2008.

Nick Hart posted
Shortly after departing the oxygen furnace in Riverdale, a filthy Mittal SW1 (Cleveland Cliffs) makes its way to the plant with a single ladle transfer car. July 28th, 2021
Scott Malec: What the hell is that post-apocalyptic mess in the background?
Bill Smotrilla: Scott Malec The old interlake steel plant.
Josh Davis: Scott Malec looks like a little bit of slag processing, a little bit of scrap metal, a little bit of slag, and an old building that is empty or is storage at this point.
Seth Lakin: The destination for NS’s bottle trains. That SW1 is the one that usually runs the ladle car up front, but there’s at least two other locomotives back in the plant. Public access to the back fence of the plant but it’s a little bit of a hike.
Sam Combs: Ladle, was working the IHB 520 job Tuesday night and we came to Acme, watched that thing run back and forth for probably 5 hours.
Chuck Mager: That ACME run was always good for OT $$'s!!

Thomas Cook posted three photos without comment.
Ricky Daniel: The old primary rolling mill after shut down because of the new caster taking over at Interlake / Acme Steel , Riverdale,IL.
And they gutted the mill took cranes out and let the melt shop employees park in there .


Linda D Christensen: This looks like our old blooming mill....the bosses have us store material in there even though it rains in there harder than outside ! Lol

Thomas Boenne posted
This is the Tundish deck at the new thin slab caster at Acme Steel in Riverdale Illinois like 20 years ago. Now it is Cleveland Cliffs!
Jeff La Belle: Thomas Boenne we commissioned in 1996.
Paul M Trembacki: I forgot what it looked like before all the “safety equipment “ LOL

Jeff Toppen posted three photos with the question: "Anyone know what this is?"

Joe Zeller posted 10 photos of Mittal 1400. Some comments indicate it is a SW1 and there may be 2 or 3 still running around in the works.
John Kostecka: A ladle car. In Riverdale Works, it take molten steel from the Basic Oxygen Furnace and is transported over to the thin strip caster/HSM to make coils.
Seth Lakin: It’s a molten steel ladle on a car being moved from the furnace to a caster.

2, cropped


5 photos of the nice C-C paint job



    1. grandfather worked for Interlake Iron at about the same time as your grandfather. He took me to the plant several times when I was small - it was so noisy and big - kind of scary, but thrilling for a little kid!...

  2. My father worked for Interlake Iron when they had a plant in Duluth, Minn. His name was Ray Baker.

  3. My father Johnny tarzan rovito worked there1949 -1964 he died of metalosis.chemicals and coatings, had stomach cancer.

  4. Ray Johnson, Ezell Johnson, Galvin Johnson, Charles Johnson, all worked there!