Little more than scrub brush grows where hot coke used to get doused before being sent into the blast furnaces, but that’s not what I went there to see. Outside Chicago’s most remote ghettoes are the ruins of ACME Coke, now two smokestacks, two three towers and a pile of firebrick. Check out what it used to be.
Daydreaming on the highest catwalk of a decaying, mostly demolished and nationally historical steel mill is… To hear the wind running like lost cats through the burned and rusted metal at sunrise is… A steel age safari–hunting a giant wire deer that haunts a riverside battleground.
When the gasmen left Indianapolis with defunct natural gas lines, the people went heavy industrial. They built a coke plant, one that outlasted the rest, and one with an interesting life.
Not like this, not anywhere, not anymore. This is a unique place–an old temple of metallurgy in the Upper Peninsula; “God’s Country,” everyone insisted. This is an abandoned monument to a god of fire, of copper, and for me, of time travel.
Builder of drill presses for Studebaker, South Bend Lathe, Oliver Plow and even Notre Dame. This century-old foundry and factory was recently demolished, without so much as a blip on the internet. I’m here to fix that.
I go step by step through the coke making process, down to the job descriptions, to illustrate the functions of the plant. I talk about the history, the racism, the ad campaigns. All you need to know about Milwaukee-Solvay Coke you can learn right here.
Duluth’s steel mill was all about moving production closer to raw product; instead of shipping ore via Dock 5 or Allouez the steel could be forged locally. While I explore the plant’s ruinous footprint, I talk about the history of the Duluth US Steel Mill from construction to demolition.