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The Inferno: 1900

The Inferno: 1900

Circa 1900. "Illinois Steel Works, Joliet." Detroit Publishing Co. View full size.


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Up in Smoke

I live in Joliet, and ride the train to Chicago every day on this same line. I'm pretty sure this view is due north, in which case all of the buildings to the left have been torn down (though their foundations are still there, and are the basis of a county heritage park) though some of the buildings on the right are probably still there.


Hot Metal

The cars the 0-4-0 is pushing are early hot metal cars, predecessors of the later huge bottle cars. They were filled with molten iron at the blast furnaces in the left background, and are being pushed up the ramp to be charged into whatever kind of steelmaking furnace they had at the time, either Bessemer Converter or Open Hearth. Later, this would have been a Basic Oxygen Furnace. The configuration of a ramp trestle up to the charging level has remained constant until recent times, although metal sides were added to the trestle later to contain spilled hot metal.

Banjo Signal

The signal visible above the first Chicago & Alton gondola, on the left, is a Banjo signal, these were early percursors of todays searchlight signals. They used colored cloth to give two indications. Also of note is the 0-4-0 switcher pushing two bottle cars, probably containing slag.

Different levels of hell

This makes me not feel so bad about working in a cube.

Gimme the Works

Looks like steel, coke, railroad ties, soot and stone works all rolled in one.

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