Friday, February 12, 2016

Lost/US Steel/Illinois Steel South Works

(Satellite, about the only thing redeveloped so far is US-41 and the Steelworkers Park)

If you have a Facebook account, your time would be better spent reading this description rather than these notes.

Illinois Steel started on Goose Island. That is why they called this expansion the South Works. US Steel retained the name of South Works.

Allen Weber wins the resolution contest. Search for his name on a small image below for the context of his comment.
This photo is about 1975, old side blast fces. gone.. New rod mill (blue bld. on top of photo, across north slip).
James Torgeson posted
The USS South Works. Note the two salties at the cargo pier on the Calumet River.
Kenneth Treharn: When I worked at G.A.T.X. they bought a lot of heavy plate steel from them.
James Torgeson: Kenneth Treharn Yep, heavy flats and structurals were their bread and butter.
Michael Maitland: Great shot, hard to believe all gone. The field in the foreground also had a fully integrated steel mill at one time - Iroquois Works of YST I believe.
James Torgeson: Michael Maitland Yes, the Iroquois plant closed around 1960.
Raymond Boothe posted
Aerial view of the USS South Chicago Works (Dr. Raymond Boothe collection).
John Grove posted
In recent days there have been many interesting posts and historic pictures of the famous US Steel South Works in Chicago.
So I have reposted this story from almost exactly one year ago in the Facebook US Steel South Works group. This emphasises the amazing parallels between South Works and Homestead.
I have a long-term project to compile detailed histories of every integrated iron and steel plant in USA. My histories concentrate on the start-up, upgrades and closure dates of every furnace and mill throughout each plant's history.
I have already published many examples in the Steel Mill Pictorial group.
A good example is my profile of Homestead plant, posted in November 2021. Here is the link.....
Homestead has many parallels to South Works. 
Both were established in the 1880s. 
Both expanded to become among the largest steel mills in America. 
Both concentrated on "heavy products", plates and structurals, which gradually declined in their share of the overall steel market. 
Each plant had a super-heavy H-beam mill, capable of rolling H-beams up to 36-inches to provide the framework of skyscrapers. These were the only two super-heavy H-beam mills in the US Steel lineup. Bethlehem Steel's Charlie Schwab accused US Steel's Judge Gary of infringing Bethlehem's exclusive rights to the Grey heavy beam mill technology. US Steel eventually agreed to pay royalties for using the technology.
Each plant also had a wide continuous plate mill, which can be considered as a semi-continuous superwide (around 100-inches) hot strip mill with four to six finishing stands. These mills were very rare in the steel industry. They operated at the two plants from the 1930s until the 1980s.
Both had no hot and cold sheet product mills or coating lines, which have long been the key growth part of the steel market. 
Both plants declined rapidly in the 1970s, integrated iron and steelmaking closed in the early 1980s at both plants, with final closure at Homestead in 1986 and 1992 at South Works.

Rod Sellers commented on a Wisconsin Steel post
Here is a site map of U. S. Steel South Works. It shows Open Hearth #4.
James Torgeson posted
The US Steel South Works. Date not noted, but the EJ&E bridge is still a swing span. The current lift bridge was built in 1974.
Martin Souček: There doesn't seem to be anything left...
James Torgeson: Martin Souček Yep, USS exited structural production.
John Groves: The YS&T Iroquois blast furnaces in the foreground are gone, so the picture was taken after 1960 but before 1974.
In either case, there are lots more than six BFs in the picture.
In 1960 South Works had 11 BFs.
By 1974, this had been reduced to 8 BFs.
The first four BFs were commissioned 1881 & 1882. Nos 5 to 8 commissioned 1891 & 1892. Nos. 9 & 10 followed in 1901, then furnace E in 1906.
Nos. 11 & 12 were added in 1948 (replacing Nos.7 & 9).
The last three BFs (8, 11 & 12) were closed by 1983.
By 1980, only BFs 8, 11 & 12 were still listed by USS as operational.
Nos.11 & 12 were commissioned in 1948 as the "World's Largest Twins". With 28 ft hearths and rated at 1500 tpd each, they were much bigger than the other 9 BFs at South Works.
In 1970 a new No 8 furnace was commissioned with a 32 ft hearth.
By 1980, No.8 was producing close to 4000 tpd, compared to 2500 tpd for Nos. 11 & 12 (which had been enlarged to 29 ft hearths).
Can anyone help with what years each of these last three furnaces closed?
USS says ironmaking was permanently closed at South Works in 1983. But this was probably when 8, 11 & 12 were written off in the accounts. I am seeking what year each furnace actually closed.
John Gromes commented on Jame's post
All of the remaining BFs (Nos. 5 to 12) were facing the North Vessel Slip. These can be seen in the middle background of the picture, stretching from the left to middle.
[North is to the left.]
John Gromes commented on Jame's post
Five BFs can be seen in the bottom right corner of the picture, facing the South Vessel Slip. These were BFs 1, 2, 3, 4 & E.

Before US Steel was created in 1901, the plant north of the river was Illinois Steel.
C. William Brubaker/UIC Digital Collections, 1969, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
Looking northeast along the Calumet River near its mouth at Lake Michigan.
The local pioneer in this field [producing rails] was Eber B. Ward, who used part of a fortune made in the Great Lakes shipping business to build Chicago's first rail-rolling mill in 1857. Located on the North Branch of the Chicago River, Ward's plant was known as the North Chicago Rolling Mill Company. By 1860, when it employed about 200 men, it already ranked as one of the city's biggest enterprises; a decade later, it had expanded into a very large facility with 1,000 workers. In 1865, this mill experimented with rails made out of Bessemer steel ingots—the first such rails produced in the United States. At the beginning of the 1880s, Ward's company opened a sister mill at the mouth of the Calumet River on Chicago's South Side—the famous South Works. (ChicagoHistory)
C. William Brubaker/UIC Digital Collections, 1969, cropped, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
Looking northeast from Lake Michigan at East 95th Street.
Note that automobile freight cars were still uncovered in 1969.

1938 Aerial Photo from ILHAP, north of slip
1938 Aerial Photo from ILHAP, north of river
The South Works began when North Chicago Rolling Mill Co. bought 73 acres of land "with 1,500 feet of frontage on the Calumet River and 2,500 feet on Lake Michigan and broke ground for what would become the first integrated rail mill in the world." Over the decades it expanded the area by dumping refuge from both their north and south works until they reached 576 acres and by 1933 the land was filled with buildings. "By the early 1980s, plant closure was certain after a major planned expansion was cancelled. Within 22 years starting in 1970, the Works changed from a major steel operation with a rated annual steel capacity of over seven million tons and more than 10,000 employees to a plant with a capacity of only 44,000 tons and 690 employees at its closing in April 1992. Massive demolitions were well underway." 1983 and 1994 aerial views of the site (DavidSchalliol) I've seen numbers as high as 20,000 employees at this works.

I remember reading an article in the Tribune decades ago about a new rail manufacturing plant planned for the South Works. I assume that was the "major planned expansion" referred to above. Reading "Concessions at South Works: What Price a Rail Mill?" made me appreciate the significance of the 5 production workers helping the 3 maintenance workers as emphasized in a video of the hot roll mill in Riverdale, IL. Also note that a large steel facility employees just 8 people.

Forgotten Chicago has some more "then" and "now" pictures.

Update: 1920s aerial view of the railroad yards with the steel plants in the background. Pictures of EJ&E Bridge 710 also have views on the South Works on the left side.

Michael Siola shared
Bradley A. Lacko posted
Illinois Steel Works - South Chicago, Illinois
US Steel would buy them later in the deal that made J.P Morgan more famous
[The comments indicate that Carnegie Steel and Illinois Steel were competitors until J.P. Morgan included them in his US Steel corporation in 1901. US Steel paid $480m for Carnegie Steel and $1b for all of the companies that he merged.]

Frank Smitty Schmidt posted
US Steel South Works in 1920
Bob Lalich I believe this photo was taken prior to WWI. The south slip seen here was expanded in 1917.
Frank Smitty Schmidt Title: U. S. Steel Railroad Yards at South Works c1920s
Contributing Institution: Pullman State Historic Site
Collection Name: Industrial Heritage Archives - Southeast Chicago Historical Society
Description: Aerial view of South Works in the late 1920s looking north from southeast corner of mill. Image shows railroad cars, life saving station at lower right, factory buildings in background, residences and neighborhood street at left.
Bill Staniec posted
South Works Chicago

Kevin Piper posted four photos with the comment:
We all talk about the people, stores, restaurants, and entertainment that is now part of Chicagoland history, but an enormous loss is the heavy industry that disappeared during the last 40-50 years. Chicago's mighty industrial complex shaped its blue-collar neighborhoods, and was the literal pulse of the city in so many ways. As a railroader, I was once a very small part of that industry.
South Works is an area in South Chicago near the mouth of the Calumet River, that was previously home to a now-closed and vacant big US Steel manufacturing plant. The area will always be called "South Works" because that was the name of the now-abandoned steel plant. South was a structural mill, and much of the steel used to build the downtown area came from there.
At its peak, the steel mill employed some 20,000 people, which supported the development of a residential and business community centered on the mill. The mill property covered a total of over 600 acres, part of which had been reclaimed from Lake Michigan with fill dumped into the water. By the 1970's, the facility began downsizing due to a shifting market for steel, and by the end of the decade the number of workers at the plant had dropped to 10,000. The mill continued to decline, and on 1-9-92, it was announced that the facility was to close. On 4-10-92, the plant did permanently shut down with fewer than 700 people employed at the time of its closing.
Since the steel mill shut down, much has been proposed, but the area has stood mostly vacant, with only a single brick building and the remains of a ship dock still standing.

Kevin Piper posted

Jesse Williams To bring context and a reason why.

Bill Beck supervisors could not leave until their replacement arrived. One guy was waiting for his replacement. Call his house, had left hours ago. Replacement was finally located, at the mill, in his car, in a sinkhole just big enough to fit the car, but he couldn't escape.
John Luther In the pic is a C 2 type ocean freighter, like the type used by U.S. Lines. American Scout was one of their well known ships.
Larry Loven I worked one summer at Rheem water heaters on around 7100 block of south Kedzie.
Timothy Gavin Used to drive past there on the regular. Rheem on one end of the bridge, Nabisco on the other. Strange combination of smells.

Joe Sanders posted
South Works, Chicago. Don't know the year.
Bill Staniec: I made that photo back in the 60s. I lived on 86th street and I also worked summers at South Works as a photographer.
Dennis DeBruler: The rest of the story:


Joe Sanders posted a link to this photo
Dennis DeBruler: The rest of the story:
James Torgeson: South had two slips and two sets of blast furnaces!
Ray Szumilas: I think at one time they had 12,000 employees. My dad worked there and so did I. By the time I was there it was down to about 3000.
Bill Flanagan: 11 and 12 furnaces were WW2 furnaces, they were done and online after the war ended. 28 foot hearth diameter, single taphole, slag pits to the side.
Blast Furnaces from left to right (east to west) 12, 11 both furnaces are the same 10, and then the ones they tore down to make a much larger 8 furnace, that should be 9, 8 and 7. 6 was also gone and the last low number furnace, #5 shut down early in 1980. leaving us with 4 running furnaces 8, 10, 11, and 12. By 1982 we were running one furnaces, didn't have the business for 2. Ran 8 furnace making 3700 - 4000 tons a day. When we took 8 down we blew 12 back in and made 2700 - 3000 on a one taphole furnace by tapping every two hours and only pulling the Baker dam once every 24 hours. It worked and productivity went up without risk. #8 went down for a full reline, its first full one. And Stove rebuild and never returned. Plant went to running EF's only. furnace and stoves torn down within two years with brand new brick. It would have rocked knowing what we knew about making high productivity.
Dennis DeBruler: Bill Flanagan So this was the North Slip. Now I better understand the ore walls that are still standing.
Bill Flanagan: Dennis DeBruler when I visited the “park” there a few years ago I walked over to the walls and slightly reestimated my original thought that it would take a atomic weapon to knock them down. Nope just a crap ton of high explosives. The small walls no problem the big one, will still be there in a thousand years.
They have a community garden there, bad idea. Eventually the slip will sand up. It was looking shallow.

Kevin Piper posted 15 photos with the comment:
South Chicago Steel Memories 
I'll turn 64 next month. When I look back on my life, I am both awed and saddened. I am awed because I was once part of the mighty American industrial complex. I am sad because it vanished while I wasn't looking.
People like to say that young folks never have good opportunities. I got off of the couch, turned off MTV, and became a locomotive engineer. I witnessed America's second industrial revolution. No matter where I lived, I gradually saw our economy change from manufacturing to service and technology. It is called progress... but was it?
Let us not forget the legacy of steel, and the huge industry that changed the course of history. Steel had a profound impact on the United States. I remember the heros of the industry, and the respect men and women had who worked in the mills. Steel had an enormous effect on the world as we know it. Today it is largely forgotten. 
I saw the thousands of workers whose sweat was covered with graphite and steel dust, the dirty yellow hardhats, and the light green raincoats. I saw communities and big neighborhoods that thrived in the shadow of the mills, and the human spirit that always strives for a decent life. The children playing in the streets, knew nothing of the changes coming. 
Without this industry, our cities would lack their towers of steel, our roads and bridges would be but dreams. The steel mills, with their insatiable appetite for raw material, transformed countless tons of minerals and ores into the steel that became the foundation of other industries too. Moving everything by rail was my job.
South Works was primarily a structural mill. It is said, that most of the steel used to build Chicago's loop came from nearby South Works. The 600-acre plant was 106-years old at the time of closure in 1992. It stood from the 1880s into the late 1990s. Steelworkers Park has taken its place, opening up the landscape and the lakefront for the South Chicago neighborhood. On a small portion of the massive ore walls, where big ships used to unload raw materials, the park district created a climbing wall. Chicago extended Lake Shore Drive south into the abandoned mill area.
I think back to when I heard the noise, felt the heat, smelled the smoke, and tasted the dust. Politicians are just talking heads. They know nothing about what's been lost forever. A lot of them are too young to remember, or completely out of touch. Americana.
[Please use the this link to access the photos.]

James Davis posted
The USS South Works 1982 or so.  This mill and nearby Wisconsin Steel went down fast -always behind screened chain-link.  Photo ops? forget about it.
Bill Flanagan: Understand that those are the original BF for the plant, the ones that in the beginning were fed by teams of men pushing wheelbarrows up ramps filled with burden material they had 20000 employees in those days before skip cars.
USS exited the shapes and bar business because they determined, that it was impossible to make a profit in the sector. The analysis was if they assumed zero employees working the casting and rolling mills, and the melt source was EF which was 50 per ton cheaper then BOF we would still lose 50 dollars per ton. This is what happened when an entire sector of steel gets severely dumped on by foreign steel. In 2000 you could buy HRC from Brazil priced at 120 per ton on the wharf in Houston. In short for less cost then scrap. Just in case anyone wondered what took Bethlehem and LTV down.

Vanished Chicagoland posted
Steel mills at night along the Calumet River in 1942, producing 24/7/365 for the war effort. [Sun-Times file photo] (SG)
Rod Sellers posted
Where is this?
Andrew Urb: Calumet River facing Lake Michigan. US Steel, Southworks. Elgin Joliet and Eastern RR swing bridge, replaced by the lift bridge that is there now.
Jake Zimmerman: Mel Marcus there's the old Coast Guard Station on the left just beyond the bridge from before they moved the location to Cal Park.
Bob Sinnokrak: On the right would be the ore dock for Youngstown Sheet and tube.
Rod commented on his post
Answer: Mouth of Calumet River, So. Chicago c1910. Here is original postcard. c1910.

Dwayne Stenger commented on the above post
Real photo
[The EJ&E swing bridge was replaced by the lift bridge in 1974
The electric supply tower probably carried 25hz power from the Gary Works.]

Dwayne Stenger commented on the above post

Kevin Piper posted
Kevin Piper
Albert Wszolek The J still ran transfer there into the 2000 s I retired in 2003.
Tighe Reardon I worked on the J / switchman (South Works) 73-78 mostly extra board; while going to Chicago State U. It was apparent then that mill was in trouble with competition from Japan and Germany dumping steel in the US.

Mike Delaney posted four images:
Aaron Terres: So there was blast furnaces in two locations?
[1 was a duplicate of 4]



Allen Weber answered Aaron's question
Yep, "the old side" 1-4&E. Then the "new side' 6-12..

Allen Weber commented on his comment
This photo is about 1975, old side blast fces. gone.. New rod mill (blue bld. on top of photo, across north slip).
James Torgeson updated

Craig Homberg commented on James' update

Ken Wontor posted
U.S. Steel Corp. South Works S.E Side of Chicago. Worked there as a Mtce. General Foreman, Blast Furnace Division, 1970 to 1983 until the blast furnaces shut down. Never to be started again. Wonderful years!
Bob Tita: How many BF’s were there at South Works?
Mike Delaney: Bob Tita 12 at one time I believe.
Bob Lalich: Bob Tita - the BFs were located on two separate slips and were numbered 1-12 plus one called E. I don't think all 13 were in operation at the same time though. This photo shows the North Slip. The two twins in the center of the photo were #11 and 12. I believe they were built at the end of WW2. The big one on the right of the photo was #8 (the second #8 I believe). I'm told it only ran one campaign.
Brian Olson: Bob Lalich #8 had a 33-foot hearth diameter. Pretty large and efficient.
Ken Wontor: Bob Lalich …you are correct. While I was there, we had all 8 running at one time and even imported coke from the United Kingdom! No 8 BF was the largest at one time.
On the old row at the south side of the plant there were 3, No. 1, 4 and E. On the north side of the plant there were 5 of then NO. 5,8,10,11 and 12. 8 in total when all running 😀.
When I was there from 1970 to 1983.
Jim Rybicki: If I remember correctly, they relined #8 furnace and the stoves, did some major upgrades, and they never even started it up after the rebuild was complete.
Lee Lawrence: Had 2 -200 ton EAF’s and an 1 -100 ton EAF feeding an AOD. Also had a 3- 200 ton Q-BOP oxygen furnaces. Primarily made ingots from both Melt Shops. Shut BFCES and upgraded 4 Electric to make ingots for the 52/54 structural mill. Made beams.
When Q-Bop went down 4-strand billet caster was shut down and new high speed red mill was shut down. Rod Mill was sold to China (I believe) Far East anyway but heard it sunk in shipping!
Trebor Nirom: By 1951, the South Works boasted 11 blast furnaces, 8 electric furnaces, and 12 rolling mills, and employed some 15,000 employees. [2]It eventually grew to 20,000 employees and declined to 700 by its closure in 1992.
Is this the 4-strand billet caster that Lee Lawrence mentioned above.
Bob Sarnowski posted
United States Steel South Works Chicago Plant Continuous Caster showing three (out of four) strands going into the Curve Rack. Rolling Mill stands are in the foreground. 1975.
Stephen Bunjan: I was a General Rolling Foreman of that Caster. That was a four strand, one is out.
Brian Olson: I was told that caster was designed and built by US Steel using their in house engineering department. US Steel was the only American steel producer that could design and build their own casters.
Charles Miller: How fast is that moving?
Ray Szumilas: Charles Miller I worked there in production. If I remember correctly it was about 10 to 20 inches per minute. The steel is about 7” x 7”. It all depended on the temperature and grade of steel.
[I did not realize they were that slow.]

Bill Staniec posted
11/12 BFs
James Torgeson shared
Blast furnaces #11 and #12 at the USS South Works.

Rod Sellers posted
South Works railyard entering from EJ&E Bridge across the Calumet River. Road at left is The Strand (later Avenue O). Lifesaving station at lower right, ore boat in South Slip, 89th Street pedestrian bridge across rail yards in distance.

Kevin Piper posted
EJ&E was an early slug user on blast furnace highline jobs. NW2 441 and T-3 have a cut of coke hoppers at the long gone USS South Works in Chicago on 1-25-80.
Kevin Piper posted
This is a view of the USS South Works in Chicago. That's a green & orange EJ&E SW1 switching cars in the foreground. PHOTOGRAPHER UNKNOWN
Kevin Piper posted
This is an excellent view of the USS South Works main blast furnace area, ore bins, high-line, and powerhouse (upper left.) The view looks southeast towards Indiana. Some of the blast furnaces pictured here were operational until the early 1980's. EJ&E RY PHOTO
Dennis DeBruler Two big blast furnaces, two smaller ones, and maybe a fifth one.
[Housekeeping: if you are here because you clicked a link, then you need to click Steelworkers Park.]

Jim Prrfan posted
IH The International on the Calumet River with USS South Works in background. Late 60's.
Jim PRRFan Photos.
[The freighter is carrying iron ore to Wisconsin Steel.]

Kevin Piper posted two photos with the comment:
EJ&E T-3 and 441 are about to shove coke hoppers up the blast furnace high-line on 1-25-80. If you look closely, in the distance is the 86th Street entrance to the mill. There was a bar right outside the gate where EJ&E switch crews would head for "beans." Old Style on tap flowed freely there all day. (441) KEVIN PIPER PHOTO/(Gate) EJ&E RY PHOTO

Kevin Piper posted
This is an interesting view of the South Chicago mill taken in February 1941, on the eve of World War II. This is looking east at 90th & Avenue O. The blast furnaces in the distance were later removed after installation of the electric furnace. Note the string of EJ&E roofless boxcar coke cars just beyond the fence. As a child, my grandfather who lived in this neighborhood, would climb under the fence and steal coal here for his family.
Kevin posted again
Steve Malachinski Those are the old side blast furnaces along the south dock. only 3 were in operation prior to 1980 #3 #5 and E being small furnaces they only put out maybe two ladles of iron per heat.
Bob Lalich The photographer was Charles Cushman. He took extensive photos of steel mills in the Calumet region, among other subjects. Fortunately his collection has been preserved for those of us interested in history.
Paul Jevert shared
David Jansson: Great story in a Trains magazine about a switch engine crew taking on a load of coke to see how well it burned. It burned REALLY GOOD and the Roundhouse Foreman blew his top when he saw the damage done to the firebox and grates. Damn near destroyed the engine!

A couple of decades later according to the cars.
Tony Margis posted
[His comment was wrong.]
Bryan Howell This is looking east on 90th St at South Works. Those blast furnaces are along the south slip.


Kevin Piper posted
I returned to the USS South Works by accident in 1987 as a Chicago Rail Link employee. We interchanged cars with EJ&E in the mill by way of South Chicago Junction on Chicago Short Line and BRC trackage rights. By then the mill was still intact, but very devoid of human beings inside. I always had an eerie feeling going in there. I remembered the tracks from my EJ&E days, and had some fun once by taking our CRL locomotive "around the horn" to the north end by the lake and along 79th Street then back south along Brandon Avenue. We sure would have had some explaining to do if we derailed way up there! My biggest regret was not getting any photos, since there was still plenty to see. This is USS Baldwin DS4-4-750 20, and an EJ&E SW1200, taken with a telephoto lens from Burley Avenue on 5-25-86, about a year before my return. LEON KAY PHOTO
Bryan Howell Mill had its last heat in 1993. My grandfather was a millwright until they closed and then was hired to work on the clean up operation.Joe Zeller I can see the nose of another engine, behind that bldg to the right. Maybe?Kevin Piper That is VO-1000 21.
Tony Margis posted
View from the beach back in 1973.

Tony Arduino posted four photos with the comment: "Need help...are these photographs of US Steel South Works or Gary Works? Year unknown. Photo by Calumet Studio on 106th St. Is this photograph at the museum?."
[Some comments indicated Gary, but the consensus, and I concur, is South Works.]
U. S. Steel South Works. EJ&E RR swing bridge near bottom left. South Slip is visible. Youngstown is gone and taken over by the Port District. Probably c 1970.

South Slip and railroad yards.
Bob Lalich It appears that #8 blast furnace was still under construction in the top left corner of this photo. It was fired up in August of 1970.

Rod SellersRod manages the membership, moderators, settings, and posts for Southeast Chicago Historical Society. Port District facilities at Iroquois Landing.
George Dosen Transoceanic Terminals. Probably early to mid 60's
Rod SellersRod manages the membership, moderators, settings, and posts for Southeast Chicago Historical Society. Youngstown ceased steel making at the Iroquois Landing site around 1960. The steel maker still owned the land which was leased to Iroquois Terminals Inc.
[It is nice to know that the Calumet River used to see a significant number of "salties" (international) ships.]


Dan Ess shared a link
South Works, 20.11.58
Photo from Charles W. Cushman collection.

Daniel Bovino posted
US Steel South Works ~ Molten iron pours from a huge ladle into an open hearth furnace to be refined into steel. Iron came from the blast furnaces, then went to the open hearth and then to the finishing mills. All of these processes took place within the South Works plant; therefore, it was an intergrated mill.
Gene Sferruzza: I was a Metallurgical Inspector at both Interlake and Inland Steel in the early/mid 1970's. Inland still had TWO open hearths operating at that time. We should have "modernized" our steel manufacturing facilities long before this time.
Bill Rupp: My dad worked there his entire career. He was a GM & was responsible for anything electrical throughout the plant. At its peak total employees over 20 thousand.
FYI, they supplied much of the steel that built the Loop.... John Hancock & Sears tower!!!


Rod Sellers posted a photo of the Acme blast furnace that was still standing in 2004.
This is one of several photos documenting the saving of some artifacts in Pullman then moving them to a Steelworkers Park near the iron ore storage wall.

Dennis DeBruler posted two photos with the comment:
Mike Kieltyka created a photo album,, concerning the Structural Division of the USS South Works. I selected a couple of photos that illustrate how important railroads were for industry back when we had industry. The first photo is an aerial view showing the railyard by the lake and the many spurs into the buildings. The second one shows "52-inch carloads ready for shipment."
Rod Truszkowski Dennis DeBruler you can't put residential on the land too polluted it would make a great place for a casino/ hotel /arena site with park land along river and lake even the Obama library would work there and help the area.
Dennis DeBruler
You and 1 other manage the membership, moderators, settings, and posts for Chicago Railroad Historians. The plan I read about included houses. Maybe that is why the plan did not work. They hauled enough mud from the bottom of Lake Peoria to cover a slag field 4-feet deep to make a park,
Rod Truszkowski A good deal of the "LAND" the mill is built on is slang and byproduct from the mill the city and state let them fill in the lake front numerous times. The park across the river is also fill from the mill. A good deal of the old mill properties are toxic. One spot in the old Wisconsin steel plant is so bad they "cleaned " it up wearing suits and air tanks, black topped it, and then fenced it in. No trespassing signs everywhere
Rod Truszkowski Railroads used to use slang because it was cheap they used it when they built the last C&WI bridge over the Cal river then they found out it was toxic so they stopped using it


Rod Sellers posted
Where am I?
Mark Simunic I think that is the lifesaving station across the slip from the blast Furness at South works.

Bill Staniec commented on Rod's post
Here is where it was. Next to South Works, South Slip.
Look at all the boats waiting their turn.

Rod Sellers commented on his post
Exterior view of U. S. Life Saving Service (predecessor of the U. S. Coast Guard) located near the mouth of Calumet River, next to the south slip of U.S. Steel Plant 1963. This property is still federally owned and never was part of U. S. Steel as seen in this 1941 map.
Bob Victor Rod Sellers - The original Coast Guard Station was later used by the Army Corps. of Engineers when the picture was taken. From USCG files. Coast Guard Station Calumet Harbor is located on the southern end of Chicago's lake front in Calumet Park and was originally placed into service in 1933 as Station South Chicago. Before that, the previous station commissioned in 1915, was located on the north bank of the Calumet River, just inside the river's mouth. In a continued state of growth, the present station has undergone two renovations: the addition of floating boat docks and three mobile homes.

MWRD posted
A view of Harbor Ave/Lake Shore Drive to the northeast from Mackinaw Avenue in Chicago on September 7, 1923, taken during construction of a portion of the Calumet Intercepting Sewer along Harbor Ave.
Mike Girdwain The concrete sidewalks are nicer than today. The street is about the same, lol.Jan Erkenbrack Selling potatoes.
And the sign says Buffet Breu on draught. Which was how we spelled draft back then.

Bob Lalich shared

John Domansky Sr.
Mike Crowley Actually that is looking east at the south slip at South Works. The 14&E blast furnaces in back ground.
Bob Lalich Yes, looking east from 90th St.
[Street View]

Al Miller posted
William B. Schiller in South Chicago, This photo appeared in the Lake Carrier's Association Bulletin in July 1954.

Steve Vanden Bosch posted three photos with the comment: "This photo from the Library of Congress 4a0608u shows an unidentified Whaleback Steamer at Illiniois Steel Works South Chicago in the 1900's."
Alex Parker It looks like the Pathfinder later known as the Progress.
Built 1892. Scrapped 1934[Illinois Steel Works was one of the companies JP Morgan bought to create US Steel.]



There is a 1965 map and an aerial photo in ejearchive. If I understand a copyright complaint correctly, I'm not supposed to provide URLs to information. So happy hunting.

Comments on postings of the map by another person:
Dennis DeBruler I wonder when the swing bridge was replaced by the lift bridge.
Ron Harris Along about 1975

Kevin Piper South Works wasn't just about steel. It was about people, neighborhoods, and Chicago. It was about America. There were over 20,000 people employed there during the 1970's. The ethnic blue-collar neighborhoods supporting the mill were pure Chicago. African-American, Polish, Italian, Irish, they were tough, hard-working folks, who often worked dangerous and dirty jobs, making the steel that helped build America and its economy. South Works is about a time in American history that is now gone forever. 

There was a Greek joint near the north gate that served the biggest and best Gyros I ever ate. A new automated rod mill went on-line in 1975. In 1980, plans were being made to produce new continuous welded rail at South. This could have saved the mill. Cheaper foreign rail flooding the U.S. market, plus a weakening economy dashed those plans. It meant something to be employed at "Da Sout-Werks." 

South Works was mainly a structural mill. Mostly I-Beams, rods, and plates. No coils, wire, sheets, or tinplate here. During the 1980's, all blast furnaces were shut down for good, and steel was produced with scrap melt from a newer electric furnace. The mill closed in 1993.
Bob Lalich Kevin Piper - rails were produced at South Works also.
Mark E. Vaughan Then did the bridge 710 which is between the Laborers Dorm and the Yard Office take the line back to Kirk Yard? Did the tracks stub NW of the engine service facility and the roundhouse or did the travel farther off the map?
Bob Lalich The tracks connected to the IC and B&O west of what are labeled Yard C and E on the map.

Comments on postings of the aerial photo by another person:
A very detailed satellite photo of South Works. By the 1970's, about 2/3 of the structures located below the ship slip in the center were removed. The high-line storage yard in the 9 o'clock position later became a large paved EJ&E employee parking lot. The curvy south blast furnace high-line can be plainly seen cutting through the lower center portion of the photo. This long and steep structure was especially spooky at night. The big 89th Street foot bridge over the Train Yard was also gone by the '70s.

Bob Lalich I believe this photo was taken during the strike in 1959. Note the complete lack of smoke.

Lou Gerard posted
U.S. Steel South Works, South Chicago, B.F. Affleck in the south slip. 1975.
Rod Sellers posted

Rod Sellers commented on his post
U.S. Steel South Works, Iron Ore Unloading, UPI Photo, November 10, 1959
First ore boat unloading at South Slip of South Works after a four month strike idled the mills. The configuration of the South Slip was different from the North Slip which had parallel walls. One of the walls of the South Slip was diagonal creating a triangular shape near the end of the slip. One side of the slip was next to ore yards. The other was next to the rail yards in the mill. Attached photo shows South Slip.

2 of 18 photos posted by Allen Weber with the comment: "Rod mill being demolished after rolling equipment being sold the to Canadians and the Colombians."
James Torgeson shared


The South Works is in the background. 
MWRD posted on Apr 7, 2023
A view of Harbor Avenue/DuSable Lake Shore Drive to the northeast from Mackinaw Avenue in Chicago on September 7, 1923, taken during construction of a portion of the Calumet Intercepting Sewer along Harbor Avenue.

Bill Staniec posted
South Works, Chicago
Jim Head: USS South Works, I spent many days there working on #8 blast furnace relines. I remember the filming of the beginning of “The Blues Brothers” there.
Bill Staniec: Jim Head I was part of the company escort for the shooting. I sat in the Bluesmobile between takes with Belushi. Funny thing is they spent a day shooting and none of the a scenes made it to the final cut.
Jon Wolfe posted
A crowd watches white-hot steel pass through the rollers during an open house tour at South Chicago works of the Carnegie-Illinois Steel corp. May 15, 1947. 50,000 persons viewed the process of steel making. — Tribune archive photo
John Blaine: Not a good time for a cobble!
Gerald Hasselbach Sr.: Blooming Mill roll on the right side.
Tim Gleason: In 1976 USSteel Gary Works had a 10 day open house. I was a tour guide.
USS hired buses from South Bend to take people from central parking back and forth to and through the mill.
Dan Kleinhenz: Back before lawsuits ruined everything!
Jim Humphrey: This photo appears to be in the 96'' plate mill.

Bill Staniec shared his album of 30 photos, each with a comment.
Of the 30 photos, I selected this one because it also shows the YS&T/Iroquois Works that was on this side of the Calumet River.

Dennis DeBruler: $775m in 1948 is worth $8.8b in 2021. [convert]

Rod Sellers
These photos are from a project SECHS did some years ago for the Illinois Digital Archives (IDA). It had a larger component called the Industrial Heritage Archives of Chicago's Calumet Region (IHACCR). There are additional photos of South Works in IHACCR that are not on the IDA. Here is a link to that site:


  1. I would offer $100,000.00 - environmental costs would be paid by the sale of the soil,
    rich in minerals - ancient soil, might contain some gold, silver, zinc, bronze, copper, much lead, molibdinum (sp?) iron, and artifacts, like arrowheads, animal parts; inexpensive building (erect in the center) to house environmental machinery. Is anyone interested to help me? call me at the office 8 to 5, not otherwise.

  2. Sometimes it's a practical difficulty to express the real impression of some great work with a few words. I found the US steel south works details with remarkable and historical background you flashbacked here was an incomparable read and experience. Seriously, I got impressed swimming through your precious long details. The US Steel, the plant north of the river was Illinois Steel, Eber B. Ward, Great Lakes shipping business, Chicago Rolling Mill Company, buying 73 acres of land "with 1,500 feet of frontage on the Calumet River and 2,500 feet on Lake Michigan, EJ&E RR swing bridge, Youngstown, the photo from Charles W. Cushman collection, the Acme blast furnace- oh, what not super valued industrial history you depicted here for us. I was bound to stick to each word you inserted regarding the US steel and also Chicagoland history. In fact, I was browsing for the interest of collecting information about steel fabrication melbourne but I was totally spell-bound finding me into your super praiseworthy presentation. Much appreciation and respect for this quality stuff.

  3. It was easy to have a love/hate relationship with the mill. I worked in the BOP Shop and occasionally at the Electric Furnace. Three workers were kill there while I was there, working on jobs I had worked on previously.

  4. What a history. Incredible picturs and stories. I love it so much!