Dicke, Robert J. (ed.) / Transactions of the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters
volume XLIV (1955)
Ihde, Aaron J.; Conners, James W.
Chemical industry in early Wisconsin, pp. 5-20 PDF (5.8 MB)
18 Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters [Vol. 44 ores. None of them used charcoal as a fuel but utilized anthracite coal and coke brought in by lake boats.2~ In 1880 there were 14 furnaces in the state. Eleven of these still utilized charcoal but the three Milwaukee furnaces operated on mineral fuel. From this point, the use of charcoal in iron smelting went into rapid decline. The combination of a rapidly dwindling supply of timber for charcoal and the competition of Lake Superior ores proved deadly for the operators in the central portions of the state. The opening of the Menominee Range in Michigan (and Florence County, Wisconsin) in the early seventies provided a rich ore low ifi phosphorus against which the low grade central Wisconsin ores could not compete.26 Although the furnaces in the Iron Ridge region continued in operation for some time, the center of Wisconsin's iron smelting moved to Milwaukee where lake transportation brought in coke from the Indiana—Illinois fields and rich ore from the Menominee Range. Wisconsin continued to figure in ore production with the opening in 1883 of the Gogebic Range on the Wisconsin— Michigan border near Ashland. The thriving foundry operations in Wisconsin, based at first on flour mill and saw mill machinery, grew with the rapid devel.opment of agricultural machinery which was taking place at the time. As the milling of flour gave way to the sawing of lumber, which in turn gave way to agriculture, the need for castings and forgings grew. The rising paper industry also began to absorb products of the iron-working factories and the rapid expansion of the railroads during the period made another large demand. During the decade between 1870 and 1880, Wisconsin rose in iron production from twelfth place among the states to sixth. After ' this time, the state, while showing continued growth in tonnage of iron produced, lost ground relatively and slipped to eighth position by 1890.27 By this time, nearly all of the old charcoal furnaces in the state had been abandoned, though a large charcoal furnace, 60 feet high and 12 feet in diameter at the boshes, was placed in operation at Ashland as late as 1888. This furnace, called "Hinkle", had the best production record of any charcoal furnace in the United States.28 As long as it could draw upon the nearby Gogebic ores and charcoal from nearby forests its operation was a profitable one. ~ Ib~cZ. ' ° Usher, Ellis B., "Nelson Powell Hulst, the Greatest American Authority on Iron", Wis. Map. 131st., 1, 385—405 (1924). ' ~ Swank, J. N., History of the Manufacture of Iron in All Ages., American Iron and Steel Association, Philadelphia, 2nd. edn,, 1S9~, p. 331. 28Jbi~~ p. 330.
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