Home      Discussion      Topics      Dictionary      Almanac
Signup       Login
Duluth Works

Duluth Works

Discussion
Ask a question about 'Duluth Works'
Start a new discussion about 'Duluth Works'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Encyclopedia
The Duluth Works was an industrial steel
Steel
Steel is an alloy that consists mostly of iron and has a carbon content between 0.2% and 2.1% by weight, depending on the grade. Carbon is the most common alloying material for iron, but various other alloying elements are used, such as manganese, chromium, vanadium, and tungsten...

 and cement
Cement
In the most general sense of the word, a cement is a binder, a substance that sets and hardens independently, and can bind other materials together. The word "cement" traces to the Romans, who used the term opus caementicium to describe masonry resembling modern concrete that was made from crushed...

 manufacturing complex located in Duluth, Minnesota
Duluth, Minnesota
Duluth is a port city in the U.S. state of Minnesota and is the county seat of Saint Louis County. The fourth largest city in Minnesota, Duluth had a total population of 86,265 in the 2010 census. Duluth is also the second largest city that is located on Lake Superior after Thunder Bay, Ontario,...

, in operation 1915 to 1987. The complex was operated by the United States Steel Corporation. Officially, the plant's purpose was to supply the growing Midwest with steel finished products. Unofficially, they were built as part of a "gentleman's agreement
Gentleman's Agreement
Gentleman's Agreement is a 1947 drama film about a journalist who goes undercover as a Jew to conduct research for an exposé on antisemitism in New York City and the affluent community of Darien, Connecticut...

" between U.S. Steel
U.S. Steel
The United States Steel Corporation , more commonly known as U.S. Steel, is an integrated steel producer with major production operations in the United States, Canada, and Central Europe. The company is the world's tenth largest steel producer ranked by sales...

 and the State of Minnesota to not impose hefty iron ore taxes on U.S. Steel in exchange for a fully integrated steel plant within Minnesota
Minnesota
Minnesota is a U.S. state located in the Midwestern United States. The twelfth largest state of the U.S., it is the twenty-first most populous, with 5.3 million residents. Minnesota was carved out of the eastern half of the Minnesota Territory and admitted to the Union as the thirty-second state...

, whose mines furnished 80% of the ore to U.S. Steel. The combined works of the steel and cement plant were the largest employers in the city of Duluth and the fourth largest industrial complex in the state of Minnesota.

The Minnesota Steel Company


In 1907, U.S. Steel
U.S. Steel
The United States Steel Corporation , more commonly known as U.S. Steel, is an integrated steel producer with major production operations in the United States, Canada, and Central Europe. The company is the world's tenth largest steel producer ranked by sales...

 agreed to build an integrated steel plant in the vicinity of Duluth, Minnesota
Duluth, Minnesota
Duluth is a port city in the U.S. state of Minnesota and is the county seat of Saint Louis County. The fourth largest city in Minnesota, Duluth had a total population of 86,265 in the 2010 census. Duluth is also the second largest city that is located on Lake Superior after Thunder Bay, Ontario,...

, which was 70 miles (112.7 km) from the largest iron ore source in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, the Iron Range
Iron Range
The Iron Range is a region that makes up the northeastern section of Minnesota in the United States. "The Range", as it is known by locals, is a region with multiple distinct bands of iron ore...

. U.S. Steel theorized that by using the Great Lakes
Great Lakes
The Great Lakes are a collection of freshwater lakes located in northeastern North America, on the Canada – United States border. Consisting of Lakes Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie, and Ontario, they form the largest group of freshwater lakes on Earth by total surface, coming in second by volume...

 it could haul limestone
Limestone
Limestone is a sedimentary rock composed largely of the minerals calcite and aragonite, which are different crystal forms of calcium carbonate . Many limestones are composed from skeletal fragments of marine organisms such as coral or foraminifera....

 and coal
Coal
Coal is a combustible black or brownish-black sedimentary rock usually occurring in rock strata in layers or veins called coal beds or coal seams. The harder forms, such as anthracite coal, can be regarded as metamorphic rock because of later exposure to elevated temperature and pressure...

 to Duluth from the lower lakes, and return with a load of iron ore from Minnesota
Minnesota
Minnesota is a U.S. state located in the Midwestern United States. The twelfth largest state of the U.S., it is the twenty-first most populous, with 5.3 million residents. Minnesota was carved out of the eastern half of the Minnesota Territory and admitted to the Union as the thirty-second state...

, which they previously only hauled from Minnesota, returning empty. It was thought that by using this process, Duluth would become a great center of manufacturing in the United States.
In June 1907, U.S. Steel incorporated the Minnesota Steel Company, a wholly owned subsidiary
Subsidiary
A subsidiary company, subsidiary, or daughter company is a company that is completely or partly owned and wholly controlled by another company that owns more than half of the subsidiary's stock. The subsidiary can be a company, corporation, or limited liability company. In some cases it is a...

, to manage and care for all plans of the future developments of the steel plant. This included homes for its new employees, to be built adjacent to its new plant in Duluth, which eventually became known as Morgan Park, named for J.P. Morgan, chairman of the board for U.S. Steel. This innovative planned company town
Company town
A company town is a town or city in which much or all real estate, buildings , utilities, hospitals, small businesses such as grocery stores and gas stations, and other necessities or luxuries of life within its borders are owned by a single company...

 was only open to employees of the Minnesota Steel Company and later, the companies that followed.

Although a subsidiary of U.S. Steel, which at the time was headquartered in New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

, the Minnesota Steel Company's general offices were located in Morgan Park, in a building adjacent to the gate of the plant. The officers of the Minnesota Steel Company all held positions within the U.S. Steel Corporation, much as did Minnesota Steel's sister companies of Carnegie-Illinois Steel and the Tennessee Coal, Iron and Railroad Company
Tennessee Coal, Iron and Railroad Company
The Tennessee Coal, Iron and Railroad Company , also known as TCI and the Tennessee Company, was a major American steel manufacturer with interests in coal and iron ore mining and railroad operations. Originally based entirely within Tennessee, it relocated most of its business to Alabama in the...

.

Building steel for the west


The Duluth Works primary purpose was to build steel
Steel
Steel is an alloy that consists mostly of iron and has a carbon content between 0.2% and 2.1% by weight, depending on the grade. Carbon is the most common alloying material for iron, but various other alloying elements are used, such as manganese, chromium, vanadium, and tungsten...

 for the expanding Midwest prairies and far west plains. When first constructed, it was originally intended to build rails
Rail tracks
The track on a railway or railroad, also known as the permanent way, is the structure consisting of the rails, fasteners, sleepers and ballast , plus the underlying subgrade...

 for the expanding railroads, but by the time the mill was completed in 1915, the railroads had already reached their peak of construction and it was felt that those needs could best be handled from the Chicago
Chicago
Chicago is the largest city in the US state of Illinois. With nearly 2.7 million residents, it is the most populous city in the Midwestern United States and the third most populous in the US, after New York City and Los Angeles...

 area. So after completing its rail mill, it was converted into billet
Billet
A billet is a term for living quarters to which a soldier is assigned to sleep. Historically, it referred to a private dwelling that was required to accept the soldier....

 finishing facilities. In 1922, after going over what products would best serve the plant's existence, U.S. Steel
U.S. Steel
The United States Steel Corporation , more commonly known as U.S. Steel, is an integrated steel producer with major production operations in the United States, Canada, and Central Europe. The company is the world's tenth largest steel producer ranked by sales...

 decided to expand its Morgan Park operation and built a new wire
Wire
A wire is a single, usually cylindrical, flexible strand or rod of metal. Wires are used to bear mechanical loads and to carry electricity and telecommunications signals. Wire is commonly formed by drawing the metal through a hole in a die or draw plate. Standard sizes are determined by various...

, rod, Nail mill, and fence post fabrication facility. These products, it was felt, best suited Duluth's capabilities for integrated steel production. Yet, even after the expansion of these facilities, the Duluth Works only consumed 20% of its own steel production for its finished products. The rest of its semi-finished steel was shipped to other facilities for finishing. Even more disheartening, its proposed 12 state market area and areas of Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

 were sparsely populated and able to be supplied with products from other mills. Despite these early predictions, Minnesota Steel remained at work producing steel products right up to its very end. Some of its products were only produced within the U.S. Steel Corporation at the Duluth Works facility. These included steel wool
Steel wool
Steel wool, also known as wire wool, is a bundle of strands of very fine soft steel filaments, used in finishing and repairing work to polish wood or metal objects, and for cleaning household cookware....

, certain nails, fence
Fence
A fence is a freestanding structure designed to restrict or prevent movement across a boundary. It is generally distinguished from a wall by the lightness of its construction: a wall is usually restricted to such barriers made from solid brick or concrete, blocking vision as well as passage .Fences...

 and fence post and a new product introduced in 1954, welded wire fabric, primarily for use with concrete
Concrete
Concrete is a composite construction material, composed of cement and other cementitious materials such as fly ash and slag cement, aggregate , water and chemical admixtures.The word concrete comes from the Latin word...

 to produce more sturdy road construction. Some of this material was used to produce missile silos for the U.S. Air Forces' Strategic Air Command
Strategic Air Command
The Strategic Air Command was both a Major Command of the United States Air Force and a "specified command" of the United States Department of Defense. SAC was the operational establishment in charge of America's land-based strategic bomber aircraft and land-based intercontinental ballistic...

 throughout the Midwest.

End of a company, start of another


Following World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

 and the 1920s, of which Minnesota Steel enjoyed great success and profit, the Great Depression
Great Depression
The Great Depression was a severe worldwide economic depression in the decade preceding World War II. The timing of the Great Depression varied across nations, but in most countries it started in about 1929 and lasted until the late 1930s or early 1940s...

 hit the country. The barely 15 year old Duluth Works was affected just as bad as the rest of the country. The blast furnaces, coke ovens and open hearths were idled at times, leaving only the finishing mills operating. in 1935, one of the two blast furnaces was dismantled. The benzol
Benzol
Benzol may refer to* Benzole* Benzene* Phenol* British Benzol, which was one of the largest independent oil distributors in the UK. It went into administration on 16 August 2005...

 plant closed in 1939. Things looked bleak for the young facility. It was realized within company headquarters at U.S. Steel
U.S. Steel
The United States Steel Corporation , more commonly known as U.S. Steel, is an integrated steel producer with major production operations in the United States, Canada, and Central Europe. The company is the world's tenth largest steel producer ranked by sales...

, that it had to re-organize some of its less profitable divisions to try to maintain its profit within the industry. With the newfound focus of the Duluth Works on wire
Wire
A wire is a single, usually cylindrical, flexible strand or rod of metal. Wires are used to bear mechanical loads and to carry electricity and telecommunications signals. Wire is commonly formed by drawing the metal through a hole in a die or draw plate. Standard sizes are determined by various...

 products, in 1932 it was decided to move the Minnesota Steel Company's holdings under the umbrella of the American Steel and Wire company (AS & W), another division within the vast U.S. Steel empire. The Minnesota Steel Company now existed only on paper. For the next 24 years, the American Steel and Wire Company ran the operations at the Morgan Park plant. In 1964, the American Steel and Wire division was absorbed once again into the U.S. Steel umbrella, under its Operations Division, and with it, the Morgan Park operations were known thereafter simply as "the Duluth Works".

Beginning of the end


The late 1960s brought to a head many issues affecting the Duluth Works. Besides being over 50 years old, U.S. Steel
U.S. Steel
The United States Steel Corporation , more commonly known as U.S. Steel, is an integrated steel producer with major production operations in the United States, Canada, and Central Europe. The company is the world's tenth largest steel producer ranked by sales...

 hadn't heavily invested into modern improvements at the plant. This included basic oxygen furnace (BOF) technology that was already being installed at other U.S. Steel plants to replace the outdated open hearth furnace technology, but wasn't installed at the Duluth Works. Also, foreign steel producers were selling to U.S. customers massive amounts of steel at a far lower price than US steel producers could match, a process known in the industry as "dumping
Dumping
Dumping may refer to a subject......in computing:*Recording the contents of memory after application or operating system failure, or by operator request, in a core dump for use in subsequent problem analysis.*Recording a file or medium as a backup....

". The plant also was a major source of pollution
Pollution
Pollution is the introduction of contaminants into a natural environment that causes instability, disorder, harm or discomfort to the ecosystem i.e. physical systems or living organisms. Pollution can take the form of chemical substances or energy, such as noise, heat or light...

, another key issue brought to light in the late 1960s. But the main problem was still the lack of a regional market big enough to justify U.S. Steel making multi-million dollar improvements to a facility that wasn't really needed in the first place.

The hammer falls


In June 1970, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) asked U.S. Steel
U.S. Steel
The United States Steel Corporation , more commonly known as U.S. Steel, is an integrated steel producer with major production operations in the United States, Canada, and Central Europe. The company is the world's tenth largest steel producer ranked by sales...

 to provide documentation on its pollution output at its Duluth
Duluth, Minnesota
Duluth is a port city in the U.S. state of Minnesota and is the county seat of Saint Louis County. The fourth largest city in Minnesota, Duluth had a total population of 86,265 in the 2010 census. Duluth is also the second largest city that is located on Lake Superior after Thunder Bay, Ontario,...

 facilities and a two year window to implement a follow-up plan. In the fall of 1971, the United Steelworkers of America threatened to strike as well. The years of problems, bad market location, old facilities, and now pollution and foreign competition had finally come to a head at U.S. Steel headquarters. Rather than deal with the issue of spending millions of dollars to improve the Duluth Works, U.S. Steel announced in September 1971 that it would shut down the "hot side" of operations in Duluth. This included the blast and open hearth furnaces and the pig iron
Pig iron
Pig iron is the intermediate product of smelting iron ore with a high-carbon fuel such as coke, usually with limestone as a flux. Charcoal and anthracite have also been used as fuel...

 shop. 1,600 steelworkers were affected. In January 1972, U.S. Steel chairman of the board, Edwin H. Gott, announced that the hot side of the Duluth Works would never again reopen, but that operations would still continue at its steel finishing, coke
Coke (fuel)
Coke is the solid carbonaceous material derived from destructive distillation of low-ash, low-sulfur bituminous coal. Cokes from coal are grey, hard, and porous. While coke can be formed naturally, the commonly used form is man-made.- History :...

 and cement
Cement
In the most general sense of the word, a cement is a binder, a substance that sets and hardens independently, and can bind other materials together. The word "cement" traces to the Romans, who used the term opus caementicium to describe masonry resembling modern concrete that was made from crushed...

 facilities. But that hope was only short-lived. In October 1973, U.S. Steel announced it was closing the "cold side", or finishing mills, at the Duluth Works leaving another 800 employees out of work. (Several smaller companies would make the former "cold side" facilities their home following the closures, such as Hallett Wire, Priola and Johnson, the Duluth Missabe and Iron Range Railway, and Zalk Josephs, making steel
Steel
Steel is an alloy that consists mostly of iron and has a carbon content between 0.2% and 2.1% by weight, depending on the grade. Carbon is the most common alloying material for iron, but various other alloying elements are used, such as manganese, chromium, vanadium, and tungsten...

 related products until 1987, when Hallett Wire - the last remaining manufacturing tenant left the Duluth Works Industrial Park. Only the Realty and Development Division of U.S. Steel and some operations of the DM&IR railroad were left.) Then in 1976, the Universal Atlas Cement Company, a subsidiary of U.S. Steel at the Duluth Works operating since 1916, announced it too would close, despite assurances that the facility wouldn't close. Another 200 employees would lose their jobs. Finally, in 1979, U.S. Steel announced it was closing the last of its operating assets in Morgan Park, its coke plant of the Duluth Works. By 1981, the last vestige of the United States Steel Corporation's steel making operations in Duluth, once the city's largest employer, had come to an end.

The future


In 1975, beginning with the open hearth building, U.S. Steel
U.S. Steel
The United States Steel Corporation , more commonly known as U.S. Steel, is an integrated steel producer with major production operations in the United States, Canada, and Central Europe. The company is the world's tenth largest steel producer ranked by sales...

 began to demolish much of the massive structures that dotted the 1600 acres (6.5 km²) sites and began preparing the industrial park for future development. In 1984, following an inspection by the Pollution Control Agency, the former Duluth Works steel plant site was put on the National Priorities List for the federally funded "superfund
Superfund
Superfund is the common name for the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 , a United States federal law designed to clean up sites contaminated with hazardous substances...

" program. Areas of heavy pollution were found on the site and were required to be cleaned up by U.S. Steel. This process has been ongoing since that time, but the site still has areas of concern by residents, future developers and pollution and environmental agencies. The city of Duluth has recently purchased the cement
Cement
In the most general sense of the word, a cement is a binder, a substance that sets and hardens independently, and can bind other materials together. The word "cement" traces to the Romans, who used the term opus caementicium to describe masonry resembling modern concrete that was made from crushed...

 plant site and is developing that 65 acres (263,045.9 m²) area through its Duluth Economic and Development Authority (DEDA), although U.S. Steel still owns the 640 acres (2.6 km²) former Duluth Works land. In April 2008 the Duluth based photographic enhancement company, Ikonics, announced it would develop 40 acres (161,874.4 m²) on the property to build a warehouse and, later, move its West Duluth
West Duluth
West Duluth refers to an official neighborhood district in the west-central part of Duluth, Minnesota, United States.Grand Avenue, Central Avenue, Cody Street, and Interstate Highway 35 are four of the main arterial routes in the community.-Neighborhoods:...

 headquarters operations to Morgan Park at the former Atlas Cement plant site. Development at the long vacant site will begin once again. On February 5, 2009 the State of Minnesota awarded the Duluth Port Authority a $50, 000 investigative grant to determine the feasibility of re-developing 123 acre (0.49776378 km²) of the former steel plant site as a 35000 square feet (3,251.6 m²) warehouse and light industrial park for storage of energy creating windmills. The investigation is ongoing.

Plant details


The Duluth Works was an integrated steel plant, meaning it took several raw materials and put them together in furnaces to make a product. Of those raw materials, iron ore, which was a mere 70 miles (112.7 km) away from the Duluth Works on the Iron Range
Iron Range
The Iron Range is a region that makes up the northeastern section of Minnesota in the United States. "The Range", as it is known by locals, is a region with multiple distinct bands of iron ore...

, was in plentiful and nearby supply. But it also took coal
Coal
Coal is a combustible black or brownish-black sedimentary rock usually occurring in rock strata in layers or veins called coal beds or coal seams. The harder forms, such as anthracite coal, can be regarded as metamorphic rock because of later exposure to elevated temperature and pressure...

 and limestone
Limestone
Limestone is a sedimentary rock composed largely of the minerals calcite and aragonite, which are different crystal forms of calcium carbonate . Many limestones are composed from skeletal fragments of marine organisms such as coral or foraminifera....

 and many other materials to make steel. These materials had to travel vast distances to get to the city of Duluth. (This factor also made Duluth "undesirable" in the eyes of many industry leaders as a manufacturing metropolis, since only one key mineral was found nearby, thereby costing companies more to haul other materials there to produce a product in Duluth and making less a profit than elsewhere.)

In the U.S. Steel
U.S. Steel
The United States Steel Corporation , more commonly known as U.S. Steel, is an integrated steel producer with major production operations in the United States, Canada, and Central Europe. The company is the world's tenth largest steel producer ranked by sales...

 empire, these materials, and transportation thereof, were all taken care of within the branches of the vast U.S. Steel subsidiaries, all of them mentioned below, having had headquarters in Duluth. The iron ore was mined on the Iron Range by U.S. Steel's own Oliver Mining Company and then hauled down by rail on the Duluth, Missabe and Iron Range Railway
Duluth, Missabe and Iron Range Railway
The Duluth, Missabe and Iron Range Railway is a railroad operating in northern Minnesota and Wisconsin that hauls iron ore and later taconite to the Great Lakes ports of Duluth and Two Harbors, Minnesota...

 (DM&IR) directly to the Duluth Works. The coal, which was mined out on the East coast, was hauled by rail to Great Lakes
Great Lakes
The Great Lakes are a collection of freshwater lakes located in northeastern North America, on the Canada – United States border. Consisting of Lakes Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie, and Ontario, they form the largest group of freshwater lakes on Earth by total surface, coming in second by volume...

 ports and sent to Duluth on lake carriers by its own Pittsburgh Steamship Company. The limestone
Limestone
Limestone is a sedimentary rock composed largely of the minerals calcite and aragonite, which are different crystal forms of calcium carbonate . Many limestones are composed from skeletal fragments of marine organisms such as coral or foraminifera....

 from Michigan
Michigan
Michigan is a U.S. state located in the Great Lakes Region of the United States of America. The name Michigan is the French form of the Ojibwa word mishigamaa, meaning "large water" or "large lake"....

 needed to purify the iron ore in the blast furnaces and used for cement
Cement
In the most general sense of the word, a cement is a binder, a substance that sets and hardens independently, and can bind other materials together. The word "cement" traces to the Romans, who used the term opus caementicium to describe masonry resembling modern concrete that was made from crushed...

 making, was hauled by lake carrier to Duluth by the Bradley Transportation Company.

Scrap material and other bulk freight, was moved at the Duluth Works by several rail carriers over the years of operation, other than the Duluth, Missabe and Iron Range Railway. The most notables, were the Soo Line
Minneapolis, St. Paul and Sault Ste. Marie Railroad
The Minneapolis, St. Paul and Sault Ste. Marie Railroad was a Class I railroad subsidiary of the Canadian Pacific Railway in the Midwest U.S. Commonly known as the Soo Line after the phonetic spelling of Sault, it was merged with several other major CP subsidiaries on January 1, 1961 to form the...

, the Northern Pacific Railroad, the Duluth, Winnipeg and Pacific Railway
Duluth, Winnipeg and Pacific Railway
The Duluth, Winnipeg and Pacific Railway is a subsidiary railroad of Canadian National Railway operating in northern Minnesota, United States. A CN system-wide rebranding beginning in 1995 has seen the DWP logo and name largely replaced by its parent company...

, the Great Northern Railway, the Milwaukee Road, and the Canadian National Railway
Canadian National Railway
The Canadian National Railway Company is a Canadian Class I railway headquartered in Montreal, Quebec. CN's slogan is "North America's Railroad"....

 among others. In addition, Minnesota Steel, American Steel and Wire, DM&IR, and finally U.S. Steel all had locomotives within the plant itself for moving its material, and several were serviced and repaired there within the Duluth Works own locomotive machine and repair shops.

The steel and cement plants of the Duluth Works were both serviced by rail via a long rail trunk that intersected several other major rail lines that met in the area. This rail yard was known as the Steelton Yard, and still exists today in the same location between the former steel mill
Steel mill
A steel mill or steelworks is an industrial plant for the manufacture of steel.Steel is an alloy of iron and carbon. It is produced in a two-stage process. First, iron ore is reduced or smelted with coke and limestone in a blast furnace, producing molten iron which is either cast into pig iron or...

 materials yard and the Duluth neighborhoods of Gary and New Duluth
Gary - New Duluth
Gary – New Duluth is a neighborhood in Duluth, Minnesota, United States. Although called Gary–New Duluth by most people in the area, and even identified by local traffic signs as being so named, they are two separate neighborhood communities....

. This yard, once owned and operated by the DM&IR, is now operated by the Canadian National Railway.

Finished and semi-finished products from the Duluth steel works, were taken by rail through the Steelton Yard over the Oliver Bridge, through the south end of Superior, Wisconsin
Superior, Wisconsin
Superior is a city in and the county seat of Douglas County, Wisconsin, United States. The population was 26,960 at the 2010 census. Located at the junction of U.S. Highways 2 and 53, it is north of and adjacent to both the Village of Superior and the Town of Superior.Superior is at the western...

 and brought to loading docks at Allouez Bay just south of the Superior entry for loading by ship to other markets or further finishing.

Duluth Works facilities


The Duluth Works steel facilities were, upon construction in 1915, among the most modern steelworks in the world. This designation was very soon eclipsed by others. The plant, although massive in scale to most people, was among one of the more modest facilities within the U.S. Steel
U.S. Steel
The United States Steel Corporation , more commonly known as U.S. Steel, is an integrated steel producer with major production operations in the United States, Canada, and Central Europe. The company is the world's tenth largest steel producer ranked by sales...

 empire. At 973, 000 tons of steel making capacity a year, it was nowhere near the massive steel plants of Homestead
Homestead, Pennsylvania
Homestead is a borough in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, USA, in the "Mon Valley," southeast of downtown Pittsburgh and directly across the river from the city limit line. The borough is known for the Homestead Strike of 1892, an important event in the history of labor relations in the United...

 or Gary
Gary, Indiana
Gary is a city in Lake County, Indiana, United States. The city is in the southeastern portion of the Chicago metropolitan area and is 25 miles from downtown Chicago. The population is 80,294 at the 2010 census, making it the seventh-largest city in the state. It borders Lake Michigan and is known...

. In fact, U.S. Steel bought more land when it built the facilities on purpose, in part due to speculation, that more subsidiaries and other steel related industries would move to the unoccupied land on the site to consume the plants products, but this was not the case. The only other major tenant on the site, was the cement plant of the Universal Atlas Cement Company, a direct subsidiary of U.S. Steel. A smaller company named Priola and Johnson, took open hearth and blast furnace
Blast furnace
A blast furnace is a type of metallurgical furnace used for smelting to produce industrial metals, generally iron.In a blast furnace, fuel and ore and flux are continuously supplied through the top of the furnace, while air is blown into the bottom of the chamber, so that the chemical reactions...

 slag
Slag
Slag is a partially vitreous by-product of smelting ore to separate the metal fraction from the unwanted fraction. It can usually be considered to be a mixture of metal oxides and silicon dioxide. However, slags can contain metal sulfides and metal atoms in the elemental form...

 and granulated it for other uses on the plant property.
The Duluth Works featured a ten furnace open hearth steel production facility, two blast furnaces, 110 oven by-product coke
Coke (fuel)
Coke is the solid carbonaceous material derived from destructive distillation of low-ash, low-sulfur bituminous coal. Cokes from coal are grey, hard, and porous. While coke can be formed naturally, the commonly used form is man-made.- History :...

 plant, a benzol
Benzol
Benzol may refer to* Benzole* Benzene* Phenol* British Benzol, which was one of the largest independent oil distributors in the UK. It went into administration on 16 August 2005...

 and toluol plant, a by-products refinery, coal
Coal
Coal is a combustible black or brownish-black sedimentary rock usually occurring in rock strata in layers or veins called coal beds or coal seams. The harder forms, such as anthracite coal, can be regarded as metamorphic rock because of later exposure to elevated temperature and pressure...

 and coke
Coke (fuel)
Coke is the solid carbonaceous material derived from destructive distillation of low-ash, low-sulfur bituminous coal. Cokes from coal are grey, hard, and porous. While coke can be formed naturally, the commonly used form is man-made.- History :...

 conveyors and crushing and sizing towers, a pig iron
Pig iron
Pig iron is the intermediate product of smelting iron ore with a high-carbon fuel such as coke, usually with limestone as a flux. Charcoal and anthracite have also been used as fuel...

 casting facility, a blowing house powerhouse, a Heine boiler house, fresh water pumping inlet station, a hot gas soaking pit and stripping building, a massive rolling facility consisting of a blooming mill, 28" rolling mill, billet finishing department, hot gas re-heating beds, bar finishing department, fence post fabrication unit, merchant mill, wire, nail, fence and welded fabric mesh building, machine repair shop, three massive materials yard crane bridges and loading/unloading docks, locomotive engine repair and servicing building, its own railyard, a lab, an ore thawhouse, a coal thawhouse, and various warehouses and other structures. When initially completed in 1916, the steel plant site alone had 48 buildings listed, the size of a small community.

Legacy


The story of the Duluth Works is one of overspeculation, and the use of the weight of politics and government involvement in private enterprise for the attempted benefit of the many of an otherwise economically depressed region. U.S. Steel
U.S. Steel
The United States Steel Corporation , more commonly known as U.S. Steel, is an integrated steel producer with major production operations in the United States, Canada, and Central Europe. The company is the world's tenth largest steel producer ranked by sales...

 never wanted to purposely build a steel-making facility in Duluth, but the weight of the State of Minnesota
Minnesota
Minnesota is a U.S. state located in the Midwestern United States. The twelfth largest state of the U.S., it is the twenty-first most populous, with 5.3 million residents. Minnesota was carved out of the eastern half of the Minnesota Territory and admitted to the Union as the thirty-second state...

 with a threat to impose ore taxes that would hurt a healthy profit margin on the iron ore removed from the state ultimately proved a powerful negotiating weapon against the largest corporation in the world at the time, the United States Steel Corporation
U.S. Steel
The United States Steel Corporation , more commonly known as U.S. Steel, is an integrated steel producer with major production operations in the United States, Canada, and Central Europe. The company is the world's tenth largest steel producer ranked by sales...

. When U.S. Steel agreed to build the plant in Duluth, the state dropped its iron ore tax threats. When the Corporation wished to pull out or impose negative actions on its Duluth plant, the State stepped in with its leverage again. This continued until the 1970s when the hurting U.S. steel market was in such trouble, that U.S. Steel had little choice but to restructure its operations for the future, or stare its own demise down in the face of foreign labor and production competition, new environmental laws, outdated technologies and old facilities.

The closing of Duluth Works foreshadowed events that were taking place all over the nation during the 1970s and 80s in traditional steel strongholds like South Chicago, Homestead
Homestead Steel Works
Homestead Steel Works was a large steel works located on the Monongahela River at Homestead, Pennsylvania in the United States. It developed in the nineteenth century as an extensive plant served by tributary coal and iron fields, a railway long, and a line of lake steamships...

 and Pittsburgh. Plants that were old and outdated for many years, were now closing all over the country throwing thousands out of jobs. It was a trend that didn't reverse itself until the mid 1990s, when growing world demand, newer technology and consolidation within the industry has brought it back from near death.

Today, U.S. Steel is one of the most efficient producers of steel in the world. But it took hard lessons to get there. The story of the Duluth Works is one of those lessons.

See also

  • U.S. Steel
    U.S. Steel
    The United States Steel Corporation , more commonly known as U.S. Steel, is an integrated steel producer with major production operations in the United States, Canada, and Central Europe. The company is the world's tenth largest steel producer ranked by sales...

  • Duluth, Missabe and Iron Range Railway
    Duluth, Missabe and Iron Range Railway
    The Duluth, Missabe and Iron Range Railway is a railroad operating in northern Minnesota and Wisconsin that hauls iron ore and later taconite to the Great Lakes ports of Duluth and Two Harbors, Minnesota...

  • Morgan Park, Duluth, Minnesota
  • Northern Pacific Railway
    Northern Pacific Railway
    The Northern Pacific Railway was a railway that operated in the west along the Canadian border of the United States. Construction began in 1870 and the main line opened all the way from the Great Lakes to the Pacific when former president Ulysses S. Grant drove in the final "golden spike" in...

  • Great Lakes Transportation
    Great Lakes Transportation
    Great Lakes Transportation LLC is a group of transportation related companies primarily consisting of rail and water carriers catering to the needs of the steel making industry centered around the Great Lakes of North America...