Early View of Wisconsin Steel Looking West
In 1875, there were plans to make the
Calumet district the largest steel producing center in the world.
On July 5, 1875 a large group of state and local citizens gathered at what
is now 109th street at the west bank of the Calumet River, to lay the cornerstone
of Joseph H. Brown Iron & Steel Company, the first steel plant in the
Breaking ground for the first mill was
a festive day for South Chicagoans. People traveled through the murky swamps
of the wetlands to witness this community altering event. Many important
people attended this spectacular event.
Wisconsin Steel's beginning years were
successful. It became a very prominent company in the steel mill
industry. Wisconsin Steel continued operations as a wholly owned
branch of International Harvester, with roughly one-half of its production
used by the parent company (Harvester) and one half sold on the open market.
Then from 1970 and onward, the mill began to lose large sums of money.
This loss was mainly attributed to the passage of the Environmental
Protection Legislation in 1970. For decades Wisconsin Steel had polluted
South Deering skies with carbon monoxide and its water with cyanide, iron
and lead. By March 1980, Wisconsin Steel had lost $44 million
dollars over a period of twelve months. It definetely had to "clean up"
its act. They needed a cash infusion to survive. Basically,
Wisconsin Steel was struggling to hold its position. Then, on March
27, 1980 Wisconsin Steel was shut down. The closing of Wisconsin
Steel resulted in the closing of many others steel mills.
Wisconsin Steel After Shut Down
This sudden closing of the mill reduced its
value to an estimated $20 million dollars below what it would have brought
for an ordinary closing. Wisconsin Steel had declared bankruptcy.
They were deep in debt and to go on would have killed the company even
more. This was the reason for its sudden closing and its decrease
Wisconsin Steels, slowly declined from
a successful industry to a non-existent one . During the court
hearings following the bankruptcy all machinery and other equipment could
not be used because these items had to be accounted for. Later after
the hearings, a cleanup was begun and to this day has not been completed.
Dumping Slag from Wisconsin Steel
Click on the links at the left to tour
Chicago's Deering Community.