To site 22 and 23
|Aerial view of Wisconsin
Intersection at bottom right is 106th & Torrence
22) Wisconsin Steel (106th and Torrence Avenue)The Wisconsin Steel Works was founded on July 5, 1875. The former production area is bordered on the north by 106th Street, on the south by 114th Street, on the east by Calumet River, and on the west by Torrence Avenue. The main plant was located south of 106th Street. It was the first mill built in the Calumet region, and it was originally called the Joseph H. Brown Iron and Steel Company.
On November 21, 1875, the first ore boat wound its way through the channels
of the Calumet River. This was the first such cargo shipped into the Calumet
Region. This voyage proved, for the first time, that the Calumet River
was navigable, a history making event in itself. In 1879 the #1 blast furnace
was built. This was a very historic event since it was the first blast
furnace in the Chicago area. The Wisconsin Steel Plant at the time normally
employed from 1000 to 1500 men who lived near the mill along Torrence Ave.
That avenue was named after General J.T. Torrence, a stockholder in the
Brown Mill. About 1882, Brown and Torrence sold their interest in the mill.
It then became known as the Calumet Iron and Steel Works. In 1899, it was
sold to the South Chicago Furnace Company. On August 12, 1902, five of
the largest harvesting companies in the country formed the International
Harvester Company. In 1977, Navistar International, formerly International
Harvester Wisconsin Steel Works sold the mill to Envirodyne Industries.
In 1980 Wisconsin Steel workers on the three o'clock shift were told to
go home because the mill was closed and headed for bankruptcy. By 1982,
furnaces were shut down, doors, gates, and machinery were closed and turned
off, and the process of selling site assets began. After a series of court
challenges, the property is now once again owned by Navistar which is charged
with the responsibility of cleaning it up so that it can be used for light
There have been extensive studies of the environmental viability of the site over the past twenty years. Some of the results are as follows. Chromium , PCB, lead, arsenic and zinc levels at various locations on the site exceed the Tier I industrial standards. Tests on fish collected from barge slips on the site showed concentrations of copper, lead, selenium, and zinc that are near the maximum levels reported in the National Contaminant Biomonitoring Program. Fish tissue also contained Aroclor 1248, fluoranthene, and pyrene. External tumors were not observed on the collected fish.
Chemistry students from Washington High School collected water and soil samples from the site. Soil was tested for both nutrients and contaminants. Nitrogen was found to be low which is not good for growing things. Not surprisingly, the iron level of the soil was quite high. A test for coliform bacteria taken from water on the site shows a high bacteria level.