Tuesday, March 1, 2016

John Deere Malleable Iron Works in Hoopeston, IL

LostIllinoisManufacturing posted
The comment:
A very special thanks to my friend Chuck Edmonson for these fantastic photographs and history -https://www.facebook.com/groups/702454473231261/The Vermilion Iron Works
In 1962 the John Deere Vermilion Works located on North Sixth Street, Hoopeston, IL. employed 140 people who cast malleable iron farm implements. By 2007 the iron foundry closed.
A company with a century old history in the town of Hoopeston and a major employer (along with the Illinois Canning Co.)at one point now lays in ruins. Started in 1907, producing products made of malleable cast iron, they were purchased by John Deere in 1946 to produce iron castings for Deere equipment, as the John Deere Malleable Iron Works until 1976. Sold and renamed Vermillion Iron Corps, the company lasted until 2007, when the doors were bolted shut. Rusting away and with the real possibility of being an EPA cleanup site, old forms litter the interior.
LostIllinoisManufacturing photo
Please follow the "posted" link for 10 pictures of the current ruins.

In the 1800s, there was wrought iron and cast iron, and later steel. Cast iron was like concrete --- it had good compression strength, but bad tensile strength. Also, it was hard, but brittle. While researching "malleable iron", I have learned that several types of heat treatment and alloy techniques have been developed to make cast iron less brittle. What I still don't understand is why not just cast with steel. Maybe being able to use pig iron directly reduces the cost of the materials.

The comment says 6th Street, but that must be an error. All of the industry is concentrated along the railroads, as one would expect. It appears this plant occupied the northwest quadrant of the junction of CSX/L&N/C&EI (north/south) with Aban/NW/NKP/Lake Erie & Western (east/west).
1940 Aerial Photo from ILHAP


  1. The foundry was located on 6th Avenue in NW Hoopeston.
    It did have rail access to both lines.
    The 1940 photo shows the Hoopeston Canning Company

    1. See the squares in the middle upper left of the photo?
      Enlarge the photo, follow the curved drive left (west),and there is the foundry across 6th Avenue.

  2. My dad worked there I played baseball next door Earl priddy