Friday, November 13, 2015

US Steel: Gary Works

(Update: The US Steel Midwest Plant is part of the Gary Works.)

When I used to drive towards Chicago on I-80 in Indiana, I would notice an orange cloud over Gary, IN. This would have been true in the 1960s. I can't remember how long that cloud lasted in the 1970s. And when you entered that cloud, it had a very unique stink. I was always glad to get past the US Steel Works and drive out of the orange cloud. Today, the air is as clear as anyplace else in Indiana. (Update: a video of the failure of the gas collection equipment (stop after a minute because the audio includes bad language). Before 3:00, the output clears up. Imagine the sky in 1960s when none of the furnaces had gas collection equipment.)

In the 1973 view below, you can see some orange smoke coming out of some of the small smoke stacks on the left side of the long buildings in the middle. So maybe it was not the blast furnaces that generated the stinky smoke.
Paul Sequeira, Public Domain

From their web site:

Gary Works, U. S. Steel's largest manufacturing plant, is situated on the south shore of Lake Michigan in Gary, Indiana. Comprised of both steelmaking and finishing facilities, Gary Works has an annual raw steelmaking capability of 7.5 million net tons.

Sheet products, strip mill plate in coils and tin products are manufactured at Gary Works. Hot-rolled, cold-rolled and galvanized sheet products are produced for customers in the automotive, metal building components, home construction and appliance markets.

Tin products are also produced at Gary Works. These products are used by customers in the container industry in the manufacture of food and beverage containers, aerosol cans, paint cans and pails, and more.

United States Steel Corporation
Gary Works
One North Broadway
Gary, IN 46402
(219) 888-2000


  • Four blast furnaces
  • Three top-blown basic oxygen process (BOP) vessels
  • Three bottom-blown basic oxygen process (Q-BOP) vessels
  • Vacuum degasser
  • Three ladle metallurgy facilities
  • Four continuous slab casters
  • 84" Hot strip mill
  • Hot-rolled Temper mill
  • 80" and 84" Pickle lines
  • 52" 6-Stand and 80" 5-Stand Cold reduction mills
  • Electrolytic cleaning line
  • Three batch annealing facilities
  • 38" Continuous annealing line
  • 80" 1-Stand, 48" 2-Stand and 84" 2-Stand Temper mills
  • 48" 2-Stand Double cold reduction mill
  • 37" and 46" Electrolytic tinning lines

Elektrika Sign posted
Granddaddy of them all. U. S. Steel Gary Works in the 1960’s / 1970’s. 12 Blast Furnaces and 35,000 employees.
How many furnaces were running when that place was full tilt ?
badge icon
12. US Steel had another plant in nearby South Chicago that was almost as big as Gary. Called US Steel South Works. Largest Corporation in the world for decades US Steel was.
After the downsizing of Sparrow’s Point following its peak of 8.1 millions tons after 1958, Gary resumed its place as the largest mill in the country.

Michael Reyes posted
Abdu McCully: Definitely Gary Works looking east from the 1 Bop Shop.

Back in the day when steel was on the peak.
Paul Sequeira, Gary Works, USA, 1973
Chris Knoxhill I thought steel was in the dumps during the 70s? Also, what railroad served this plant, the penn central or chessie system?
INDUSTRIAL CULTURE & PHOTOGRAPHY The recession came in late 70´s. This is 1973.
No idea about the railroad, sorry.
John Slowikowski Chris Knoxhill the first real blow came with the Youngstown sheet and tube on sept,19 1977 and was like a chain reaction after that.
Dennis DeBruler EJ&E was owned by USS and connected all four Chicagoland works: South, Gary, Joliet and Waukegan. It was a belt railroad around Chicago and connected with all of the trunk railroads. When CN bought it, a new company, Gary Railway, was formed to own and operate the tracks in the Gary Works.

Fourth of eleven Gary Works photos in a Gallery

Mike Delaney posted three images:
James Torgeson: Gabe Argenta I have them as part of a spiral-bound J booklet, but I believe they’ve shown up in other forms. There are also diagrams for Joliet, Waukegan, AB, and Universal-Atlas.
[Largest mill in North America.]
Dennis Taylor: King of them all, and the photo doesn't show the Tin Division.
Tony Sal Garcia: I'm trying to see if see the rod mill.
Craig Robert Leach: Looks like Iron/Steel Producing and Merchant Mill only, with Open Hearths....old stuff



Eric Maul posted
Gary Works my place for 30 plus

Marco Flores posted a picture from an iron worker friend
Andrew Urbanski commented: "EJ&E on the hi line? interesting!"
Forgotten Railways, Roads, and Places also posted
Forgotten Railways, Roads, and Places posted again

A lot of the land is now vacant, but it looks like that the iron smelting (blast furnaces) are still working. Wikipedia indicates they still had 6,000 people in 1990. But this was down from 30,000 people in the early 1970s. The Bird's Eye Views are of the northern most blast furnace. Judging from the smoke stacks, it may be the only one still running.
Bird's Eye View
Bird's Eye View

Chip Douglas posted, rotated and cropped
Frank Fransioli: Thanks. What I liked about working there, aside from just the incredible, massive scale of everything, was that as you moved from East to West, you could follow the process of making steel, from raw materials through molten metal to rolling mills and finished products. I was grateful for the orientation that we received in our first few days and the rich diversity of the people I met there.
John Slowikowski: Still remember getting super lost in there looking for door 800 the first time I went there.

Steampunk Railroad posted
US Steel Gary Yard Stoves and Furnaces 11, 12. December 1907. Calumet Regional Archives, Indiana University Northwest.

Kelly Emerick posted two photos with the comment: "US Steel Gary Works, first picture of #1 blast furnace & Hiline 1913; second one is Bop Shop & South blast furnaces circa 1940’s."

Kelly commented on his post

safe_image for U.S. Steel restarting another blast furnace at Gary Works as steel industry recovers
Doug Lanum I'm curious, how do they start a blast furnace from cold and how long does that take before they're up and operation?
Stacy Mays Doug Lanum If I remember correctly, it takes 3 or 4 days to get the refractory in the furnace and stoves warmed up enough to start letting some wind and coke in. Then once they get to that point, every few hours they take the furnace off and open a couple more tuyeres. That depends on how well everything is heating up. It can take a few days once they start charging to get good iron.
James Clutch Raber Doug Lanum we were told 3 weeks to heat up the stoves.
Phillip Hawkins I have only witnessed a restart from idled furnaces. That is where the brick lining is kept warm to protect from being damaged . The only time i have ever witnessed a cold restart, is when they hzve done a complete reline or rebuild of the furnace and stoves. That does usually take 3- 4 weeks depending on inspections and preassure t
ets all going ok. They have had to cool back down before and make minor repairs before start up.
Mark Sparky Eddleman Doug Lanum years ago they just put wind to a stove and left all the wooden scaffold inside and let her go. Now using temporary heaters that increase the temp in small increment each hour to cure the gunite and brick mortar.
Stacy Mays Phillip Hawkins Like I said earlier, if I remember correctly. It's been a really long time since I was involved with a cold start. Like you the last few were after a rebuild. The question I haven't seen is was the furnace banked? And how long ago was that done? I think a banked furnace can stay warm for 6 or 8 months.
Mark Sparky Eddleman Stacy Mays we restarted a furnace here in granite city a cpl years back that was banked for 2.5 years right after a reline. They cured the gunite with a gradual heat up using temp burners then cooled it off and banked it. It was retired using the same process as if it were just relined. Slow heat up on stoves and furnace with temp heaters the loaded some ore and coke when wind was put to the stoves. The other furnace was banked at the same time but it was making iron before banked. They kept it from getting too cool in the winter with steam. I can tell u that the bottom of th shell is 20ft below the tuyere deck and in 25 years I have only seen it completely removed one time. We have excavated a 5x5x5ft hole inside at the tap hole to place the rebar cage known as the doghouse and even after being down 2 months the coke that was down there was still warm and with the help of some air blown on it became very hot. When we took the bottom shell out in 95 I was told that the heat down there was coming from what is known as the salamander. It could stay hot for months when out of service. We always clear the furnace of slag basically by hand pushing it out of a tuyere hole with the jacket removed. Bigger pieces are cut down to size using oxygen lance and removed. The floor is usually dug down maybe a cpl feet below the tuyere holes except for the doghouse.
[They are restarting the second of three blast furnaces as car companies recover from Covid-19. Operations in Minnesota, Michigan, Ohio and Texas remained idle.]

Update: 9:26 video, no BOF scene.

Al Miller posted
Pickets representing the National Maritime Union use a launch to take their message to crewmen aboard the James A. Farrell, which was docked in South Chicago on Sept. 20, 1946. This is an Acme Photo Service photograph.
Fred Miller II: What I would give for those forward cabins!
Steven Harverty commented on Al's post
A slightly different version of the same photo mere seconds later
Robert Campbell posted
The Henry H. Rogers is shown at Gary, Indiana in July 1965. Photo by John Vournakis.
Joe Shaver: I worked at Gary Works in the early 90s-when I was casting supervisor I was invited for tea aboard the Callaway while it unloaded. Marvelous middle of the night experience.
We always had to open the water bypasses when the ships came into the slip because if we didn’t it would clog up our intakes. Because of this, I always knew when they were coming in and I would always go down to watch if I had time.
Dale Belles: my parents and grandparents would tell me that sulfur smell was the smell of money (their retail business went the way of USS). Good times meant good times for all of Gary.
[So sulfur was what I smelled when I drove into the orange cloud over Gary when I was westbound on the Indiana Tollroad.]

James Torgeson shared
US Steel's 601' Str. Henry H. Rogers is shown at the Gary Works in this 1965 view. Needless to say, she was a coal-burner! The structure above her is the conveyor system from the sinter plant, which was across the slip from the steelmaking operations. The Rogers was built in 1906, last sailed in 1972, and was scrapped in 1975.
Mark Goodrich: Check out the Hullets and all the ore bridges. There were more ore bridges south of the conveyor also.
Stephen Schroeder: [Currently] There's only one bridge crane (8 bridge) north of the conveyor going over the slip and 2 south of it 1 and 1A bridge
Brian McCune commented on Robert's post
‘68 from the Crawford, after spinning on forward wire that was on the self releasing spile on the dock!
Al Miller posted
Henry H. Rogers opens the port of Gary on April 10, 1955, with a load of 10,300 tons of iron ore loaded in Escanaba. This photo is from the May 1955 issue of Pittsburgh Sidelights.
[Escanaba was owned by Cleveland Cliffs instead of US Steel, but its port was open (no ice) this early in the season.]

Al Miller posted
This photo of Eugene P. Thomas at Gary has something for everyone. It graced the back cover of U.S. Steel News magazine in June 1937. With the perfectly placed locomotive, conveniently located workmen and dangling buckets, I'm guessing noted industrial photographer Robert Yarnall Richie had carte blanche from the company to set up this photo.

Bill DuFault posted

Where is ‘she’ located?

[Note the two 25 hz power towers in the background. Although the tops don't appear to be yellow.]

Luke Malin commented on his post of a Flickr photo
[Concerning the heavy duty "grey car:"]
Jim Jamrus: Not 100% sure but I think it's used to move the BOP shop ladles out when they need to be re-lined with new refractory brick.....Harbison-Walker used to have a shop on Clark Rd in Gary that would re-line both bottle cars as well as the ladles used in the area was local to EJ&E so non-AAR interchange cars could be used to reach it.

(This photo was supposed to be further up in these notes. But a Google bug put it at the bottom of these notes. Instead of wasting my time working around a bug that I reported weeks ago, I leave the photo here as a monument to Google's bug.)
David Flood posted
My grandfather in the middle. Worked at Gary Works from 1922ish to 1970ish
He hated having his picture taken so not sure how this happened. Wish I knew more about photographer and could find other photos they took.
Bubba Dubs There were multiple company photographers on US Steel payroll back then, so it could’ve been any one of them.

Raymond Boothe posted
Aerial view of the USS Gary Works No. 14 blast furnace (unkn/Dr. Raymond Boothe collection).

Raymond Boothe posted
Indiana Steel Company (Later USS Gary Works)-1917: View of the Bessemer Converter Shop (IU Collection/Dr. Raymond Boothe B&W repair).
Raymond Boothe posted
Indiana Steel Company (Later USS Gary Works)-March 3, 1916: View of the No. 1 Open Hearth Shop Charging Machine (IU collection/Dr. Raymond Boothe B/W repair).

Raymond Boothe posted
USS Gary Works: Forging railroad wheels in the wheel shop (Harvard Business Collection/Dr. Raymond Boothe B&W enhancement).

Joe Linvill posted
Here is my view.
Rock Gervais: We local 374.Boilermakers have built and worked on all of the USS blasts. My first job as an apprentice was one the 13 furnaces at that time. American Bridge.
Douglas Warner: USS Gary Works 4, 6, 8 and 14 looking west worked there almost 20 years ago...

Jonathan Bowman posted
[When I first saw this photo, there was a comment that identified it as #2 and #4 at USS Gary Works. But when I went to copy it, that comment had been deleted. I guess the USS photo cops outlaw commenting as well as taking photos.]
Dale Harboth posted
Gary Work Hot side

Dennis DeBruler commented on Dale's post
The building in the foreground now has a lot more ivy on the wall.

William O'Neal Stringer posted a story in addtion to this comment:
 I ran this old cow and calf set up for many years in the Gary Mill. Using the electrical power from the engine it cuts in half the speed but generates a lot of pulling power. This locomotive was built in 1939. This is the unit they would use to shake the coke cars.

Al Miller posted
On May 30, 1974, Cason J. Callaway departed the Duluth DM & IR ore docks with its first cargo since being lengthened by 120 feet at Fraser Shipyards. The Callaway carried a dock record 26,634 tons of ore for Gary. At 767 feet, she was well received by the fleet, which was looking forward to the similar lengthening of the Anderson and Clarke at the end of the season. (From Sidelights -- July 1, 1974)
This U. S. Steel photo shows the Callaway shortly after it returned to service at its new length. I don't know whether this was shot on its first trip.
Tony Gatliff: I thought they converted them to self- unloading when they lengthened the “AAA”’s ? When did they boom them?
Craig Barteldt: 1982
Stephen Schroeder: US Steel looks the same

Ryan Mihalak posted
Given the fact the billboard says "Company", this must be a pre-1952 photo.
Image courtesy the US Steel Gary Works Collection (1906-1971) of Indiana University.
[I left out some of his comment because it was wrong. According to the comments on the post, this ship is empty and being turned in the turning basin using wires. Note the Huletts on the right side of the photo.]
Jeff Milligan: . . . Fairless is of the same Vintage as the present day Alpena . . . sister type ships of the day . . .
Isaac Pennock: still winding around with the wires to this day

Robyn Riley commented on Ryan's post
I have the builder’s plate from her.

Ken Houseal posted three photos with the comment:
Definitely a first for me, I’ve unloaded into other ships before, but not from one footer to another. We rafted both 1000’ ships together, M/V Edgar B. Speer and M/V Edwin H. Gott. Customers needs were met and all was accomplished safely. 
(The Speer unloaded into the Gott, the Gott unloaded onto the pile in Gary) 
These sister ships have been first for a few things already this year, truly an interesting and exciting start to the season. 
James Torgeson shared with the comment:
In this unique view in the slip at the USS Gary Works, the 1004' Edgar B. Speer (1980), at right, unloads iron ore pellets into her fleetmate, the 1004' Edwin H. Gott (1979). The Gott is then using her 280' boom to distribute the Speer's pellets deep into the plant's ore yard. Apparently there's an issue with the receiving hopper that the Speer needs for her short shuttle boom, and this is the solution. Both vessels originally sailed for the USS Great Lakes Fleet, and are named for former USS Chairmen. The fleet is currently owned by the Canadian National Railway.
Don Stransky: In the 70’s at the Lorain Ohio docks a steam ship lost power and the boiler went down . They tightened the steam wenches to keep the ship from drifting away and had to wait for the next ship to come in . The next ship lashed up to the docked ship and extended jumper cables to get the boiler going on the dead ship . The only other time I saw ships together was during winter shut down , three abreast at the dock .



Mirko Ivanovic commented on James' share
Looks like speer was done offloading
Kyle SStover: “No coil barges today we’re gunna need y’all to shovel the transfer house all day”
Fred Newman posted
US Steel, Gary Works, 1960
James Torgeson: Looking across multiple RR main lines straight down the slip to Lake Michigan. 
Anthony Letnich: 12 Blast Furnaces and 35,000 people.

Thomas Boswell posted
Late 1980's view of Gary Works #7 three-meter coke battery. Seen is top side and pusher side. Bi-products dept. In the background.
Coal was loaded into the Larry Car shown topside, from the coal bunker, and then the Larry Car would charge the oven through several charging holes.

Brian Fattore posted
Current Gary Works plant railroad map from 2021 STB filing.
[After CN bought EJ&E, a new railroad was split off to operate the tracks inside the mill.]
Cory Donahue: What is funny is that this is the map they give the poor truckers that come in the plant and basically tell them good luck. The amount of times I have been stopped by a lost trucker and looked at this map is ridiculous. They are given no direction whatsoever as to where they need to go.
Kyle Miller: Only one gate they can fit under to.
Anthony Zacchero: USS Homestead was just as bad probably worse. Also the receiver in the Storeroom/Warehouse was an ornery cuss. He was so mean/rude to those drivers it was terrible.

Thomas Boswell posted
Gary Works Coal Handling rail facilities from the early 1960's. Empties from the car dumper on the left ready to return to the Pocahontas coal facilities in West Virginia. On the right are coal loads from the Corbin coal washer in Corbin, Kentucky.

Tom Cera posted
U. S. Steel Gary Works blast furnaces under construction - circa 1907.
[A comment points out the horse drawn wagon.]
Kevin Nelson
This website has a lot of Gary Works photos.
[A continuous caster was added in 1967. [SiteTour]]

Comments on Tom's post

Julez Stefanik posted
My ”Then and Now” post

Dennis DeBruler commented on Julez's post
If they repainted it, what did they do to keep it from becoming black again?!3m1!1e3!4m5!3m4...
Pamela Goins: They haven't painted that as of yet. Not sure if they will.

Raymond Boothe posted
USS Gary Works-1930: View of Open Hearth Shop No. 4 (IU collection/Dr. Raymond Boothe B&W repair).
Raymond Boothe posted
United States Sheet and Tin Plate Company (later USS Gary Works): Employees working United tin plate machines (unkn/Dr. Raymond Boothe collection).

Raymond Boothe posted
Indiana Steel Company (later USS Gary Works): Coke push at Battery No. 6 (IU collection/Dr. Raymond Boothe B&W repair).

Raymond Boothe posted
Indiana Steel Company (later USS Gary Works-December 27, 1914: Rolling plate at the plate mill (IU collection/Dr. Raymond Boothe B&W repair).

Carl Kaszycki posted
#8 Gary.
James Mcclure: Gary D Ingram It has 16 tuyeres. Not sure of hearth diameter. But it's the smallest of the 3 South Fces. Gary works
[Some comments talk about this is the one that fell over in 1995. No one was hurt and it was running again in 5 months. This is evidently a photo during a current rework in 2022.]
Ben Ben posted three photos with the comment: "Couple from last night."
Fred Mayo: Where is this?
James Mcclure: Fred Mayo #8 Furnace USSTEEL GARY WORK.
Stephen Cussen: How deep are those runners?
James Mcclure: Stephen Cussen. This is the iron trough. Just bring Furnace back on from extended outage. Been there, done that. Lots, lots of work.
Stephen Cussen: James Mcclure looks about 6ft deep. [James Mcclure liked it.]
1, cropped



Dennis Taylor posted two photos with the comment: "Plate Mill Heat Treat, USS Gary Works"
R Jim Echlin: Our company, Duraloy, furnished the rolls for the continuous heat treat furnace. They were 17 inches in diameter and if I remember correctly had a face width of 167”. They were cast in a heat resisting 38 % nickel, 28% chromium alloy.
Dennis Taylor: R Jim Echlin Changed out many of those rolls, some were water cooled.
Jim Foster: What year was this?
Dennis Taylor: This photo was taken in the early 60's, a few years later they built a almost duplicate line just north of the one pictured and in the late 90's built a walking beam hardening furnace south of the one in the picture.
Robert Meyer: What percentage of product was rolled in the 210" configuration as opposed to the 160"? 20/80, 10/90? This was a single stand mill correct? Do you know the diameter of the back-up rolls, 72"? Thanks in advance!


Dennis Taylor posted two photos with the comment: "210" Plate Mill, Gary Works."


Dennis Taylor commented on his post as part of some comments about a mill housing being cracked. 
Robert K. Rice: Dennis Taylor 10" slab with rolls set for 4" They tried forging instead of rolling. They tore up the front bearings for both upper and lower shafts in the motor room.

Dennis Taylor posted two photos with the comment: "210" Plate Mill housing and #2 Side Shear Gary Works."


Kris Pendowski provided two photos of Dennis' post with the comment: "Not my photos, current condition as of a few months ago. Mill posts in first photo, back of side shear in 2nd."

Nicholas Maggia shared a link
Rendering of $60m pig iron caster being built at U. S. Steel Gary Works (Graphic: United States Steel Corporation)
R Jim Echlin: I’m seeing a lot of comments which I don’t believe accurately depict what this is all about. My take on it is that the new pig caster is to be used to cast pigs from blast furnace iron allowing greater utilization of existing blast furnace capacity while providing melt stock for the Big River EF furnaces. This does not eliminate or reduce the use of the Gary Works BOFs. Casting pigs from blast furnace produced iron is far from a new process but to my knowledge has not been done at Gary at least in the recent past.
Gary Rigg: R Jim Echlin It is going to be another outlet for the iron the iron to go to so the blast for this is can run more efficiently instead of instead of going up-and-down and up-and-down it will be able to run more efficiently.
R Jim Echlin: Big River’s approach to steel making is based on the approach developed by Nucor and introduced in the 1988-89 time frame at the Crawfordsville plant. It is basically the “mini mill” continuous process that take EF melted steel from liquid directly to finished hot rolled coils.
Stacy Mays: At one time, almost every plant that had blast furnaces had pig machines.
Bob Featherstone: How will they ship the iron to Big River?
Pano Theodoratos: Bob Featherstone Barge like they’ve been doing.
Bob Yanik: About ⅔ of the pig iron used in the US comes from Russia. They might be trying to get get a chunk of it.
David Horn: Brazil, Russia and formally Ukraine had operational pig castors.. Ukraine’s pig castor got demolished in the war and most countries are not taking Russian exports. Leaving Brazil as the only pig iron producer. US Steel will be the next player.
Mike Matthes
: Good article here. "Russia and Ukraine account for more than 60pc of the pig iron imported into the US."
[Several comments speculate that Mon Valley will be shutdown after USS gets their new EAF at Big River working.]

Tim Alfson posted four photos of a train, including a caboose, by a blast furnace from the vantage point of the pilothouse of the MV/ Edwin H Gott.  (caboose post)

John Dobry: Is it still open?
Lou Myers: John Dobry I hired into Fab D back in 1996, it’s still open but very few guys in there. Half dozen at most.
John Dobry: Lou Myers looks like everybody left after Dan Holland left.

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