Thursday, September 22, 2016

Early rails came from England and Joliet Iron Works

(Update: joliet iron works ruinsabandoned flyover into a building,  a blog articleAtlas Obscura)

Many railroads in the Midwest were constructed in the early 1950s. During the 1950s, there was no plant in America that could make rails. So they were imported from England. "They arrived in U-shape form so they could be transported across the ocean in the hold of a ship. They were re-heated and straightened out on arrival." [ble-t]

Steve OConnor posted
Where there's steel - there's railroads.
The “City of Steel” emerged with the construction of the Joliet steel plant in 1869 under the ownership of the Union, Coal Iron and Transportation Co. and produced iron rails. In 1873 the mill was reorganized as the Joliet Iron and Steel Co., when two of the five-ton Bessemer converters that revolutionized the industry were built there and were among the earliest used in the United States. The rolling mill, a key element of the works, struck its first blow in March 1873. Railroad rails rolled at the Joliet Works played a key role in the expansion of America's railroad infrastructure. Soon the Joliet Iron and Steel Works was the second largest steel mill in the United States. While canal construction (Illinois & Michigan Canal) drew Irish immigrants, the steel mill attracted thousands of southeastern Europeans. These new immigrants also found jobs on the railroad that serviced the steel mill, the Elgin, Joliet & Eastern Railway.

Stuart Pearson shared
Joliet, IL around the turn of the 20th Century was 2nd in Steel Production in the entire USA.
Dennis DeBruler The gondola cars are a reminder that the Chicago & Alton was a predecessor of the GM&O (Gulf, Mobile & Ohio), which is now the CN tracks. https://www.google.com/.../data=!3m1!1e3!4m5!3m4...

Kevin Piper posted
Joliet steel works. Date unknown.
Kenneth DeCamp Around 1900 with reference to the low-sided gondolas and the steam engine up on the overhead trestle! 
Also, the wood sided gondola photo foreground is marked with the Chicago and Lake Shore Eastern Railway logo, the railroad that transitioned into the E.J. & E. Railway! So, right around the turn of century 1900ish!
Ronald Gonsoulin Where was this located Ken? Is that the wire mill?
John Govednik I'm guessing it's somewhere around these coords looking north.
41.537014, -88.078660
Paste those into google maps.
Dennis DeBruler I think it was taken a little further north. Here is the embankment that went up to the trestles. It would be just out of frame to the left.
https://www.google.com/.../data=!3m1!1e3!4m5!3m4!1s0x0...
Dennis DeBruler And this is probably the foundation for the hot-air stoves we see in the photo.
https://www.google.com/.../@41.5407897,-88.../data=!3m1!1e3
 
The plant became part of the Illinois Steel Co. in 1889, which in turn was part of the formation of U.S. Steel in 1901.
Approximately 1,500 were employed at the site during peak production years, and at one time the plant was the largest nail producer in the world. Although steel production at the massive blast furnances on the site was halted after World War II, the plant continued to produce rod and wire specialty products until most of the operations were shut down in the 1970s. [ChicagoTribune]
As with many steel plants in Illinois, this one no longer exists. Larger, more efficient plants have been built elsewhere. Some are still in northwest Indiana. Many are now in China and other countries. The other 28 business parks US Steel developed from their closed steel plants started with bulldozing what was their to give them a "clean slate" for development. But in this case they respected that they are close to the I&M Canal Heritage Corridor and preserved the ruins of the original plant. They have added signs and paths so that you can safely walk through the ruins. And they created a trail to the ruins with a headend that has plenty of parking and a restroom. I have taken so many pictures of these ruins and their signs that I am still psyching up to write a posting about it.

1939 Aerial Photo from ILHAP

Frank Smitty Schmidt posted 2 photos with the comment:
Detroit Photographic / Library of Congress photo of the Illinois Steel Joliet Works in 1901. The old C&A (now UP) line ran right through it.In the second picture, I cropped the original down to try to get a little more detail of the engine on the elevated track.
1

2
Update:

Tony Richie posted four photos with the comment: "Some old photos of USS Joliet , dad did 30yrs there, I did 10yrs when was called American steel and wire."
1
Dennis DeBruler
HAER ILL, 99-JOL, 6-
6. BLACKSMITH SHOP.

2
Dennis DeBruler
HAER ILL, 99-JOL, 6-
5. PATTERN SHOP.

3
Dennis DeBruler
HAER ILL, 99-JOL, 6-
7. MACHINE SHOP.

4
Dennis DeBruler
HAER ILL, 99-JOL, 6-
2. GENERAL VIEW WITH BOILER SHOP (MIDDLE) AND POWERHOUSE ADDITION (RIGHT)

Gallery

Significance: With its earliest buildings dating to the 1870s, the extensive Joliet Iron Works is distinguished for being the ninth operating Bessemer steel plant (1873) and for its architecturally outstanding office (1873)....The earliest buildings date from the 1870s and include the Machine Shop (1872), the Blacksmith Shop (1873), the Pattern Shop (1873), and the Company Office (1873). All of these structures were erected by the Joliet Iron and Steel Company. [HAER-data]
Frank Smitty Schmidt posted
US Steel Joliet in the early 1950's.
Santa Fe yard along the river, GM&O line through the steel plant, EJ&E main line & DesPlaines River bridge, and the EJ&E interchange with the GM&O.
Gregg Wolfersheim WOW! It makes the old prison look small.
Alexander Gerdow Nice shot. It was hard finding a picture of the works. Did they have blast furnaces?
Frank Smitty Schmidt At one time it was the second largest steel mill in the US and had 4 blast furnaces.
Richard Mead Went there on a tour when I was a kid...at that time they were making a lot of wire.
Roger Kujawa posted
Illinois Steel Coke ovens Joliet, Illinois on the EJ&E railroad.

The iron works is in the left background and behind the riverfront industries.
MWRD posted
A wheelbarrow brigade moving gravel for concrete for a new lock at Jackson Street in Joliet, Illinois, on March 24, 1899.

At least one of the blast furnaces was removed in 1938.
Sammy Maida posted
Duluth Works blast furnaces 1966. The furnace at left was one of two twin original BFs built in 1915. The one at right was a 1907 era BF from Joliet Works that was disassembled in 38 and re-erected at Duluth in 43 for the war effort, taking the place of the other twin bf which was strangely demolished in 32. The Joliet BF ran until the hot side closed in 71. The operation of the original furnaces fate is questionable. Some say it was idled before the hot side shutdown, others say it was running til the end. I've never found a solid answer.

BRHS posted
This is a post card picture of Joliet Steel Manufacturing Company demonstrator side dump car #101. This company existed in Joliet from 1909 until 1920, but we don't know much else about it.
Photographer unknown.
From the Blackhawk collection.

Tony Richie posted four photos with the comment: "Some old photos of USS Joliet , dad did 30yrs there, I did 10yrs when was called American steel and wire."


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