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Entries : North Chicago Rolling Mill Co.
North Chicago Rolling Mill Co.

North Chicago Rolling Mill Co.

The first large iron and steel plant in the Chicago area, the North Chicago Rolling Mill, was founded in 1857 by Eber B. Ward, an owner of iron mines in the Lake Superior region who had made his fortune in shipping around the Great Lakes. Along with partners Stephen and Orrin Potter, Ward built a large facility along the North Branch of the Chicago River, about two and a half miles northwest of the city's center. By 1860, when it employed about 200 men and manufactured nearly $700,000 worth of iron railroad rails, the plant was one of the largest manufacturing enterprises in the Chicago region. In 1865, the mill rolled a few experimental steel rails, which may have been the first ever produced in the United States. In the early 1870s, when it employed about 1,500 men, the company added a Bessemer furnace, which allowed it to produce steel rails in huge quantities. At the beginning of the 1880s, the company opened a large new plant at South Chicago that also made steel rails. By the mid-1880s, the two mills together employed about 6,000 people; annual output exceeded 600,000 tons. In 1889, the two plants of the North Chicago Rolling Mill Co. became the heart of the new Illinois Steel Co., an entity that merged several of the largest Chicago-area mills into what was then the largest steel company in the world. At the beginning of the twentieth century, Illinois Steel became part of U.S. Steel, a much larger entity. Until it was closed permanently in 1992, the South Works of the old North Chicago Rolling Mill Co. served as one of U.S. Steel's main plants. See also U.S. Steel Corp.