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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)

Page 6

 6 Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters [Vol. 44 
such chemicals as alum, clay, rosin, and casein for the sizing of paper so
it is also a chemical consuming industry. 
 Chemical industry, just as other industry, is influenced in its development
by geographic location and the availability of raw materials. The State of
Wisconsin fares poorly on both counts. The state's location on the northern
edge of central United States gives it an unfavorable position for maximum
participation in both national and international chemical commerce. Lake
Superior on the north and Lake Michigan on the east form significant water
barriers to the movement of people and materials. These water routes would
be of greater value if Central Canada were an important user of chemicals
or if the St. Lawrence Seaway became a reality. Under the existing circumstances,
however, Wisconsin holds no advantage not already possessed in more favorable
degree by Michigan, Ohio, and New York. 
 The prairie states to the west fail to provide either a significant market
or an important source of raw materials. To the south there is a market but
not one in which Wisconsin has an advantage over other central states. We
are forced to conclude that Wisconsin's geographic position is not one naturally
to stimulate the growth of a chemical industry. 
 Chemical industry depends for its success upon the availability of water,
fuel, and suitable raw materials. Wisconsin has water abundantly available
in good quality for chemical operations. On the other hand, its availability
has made it an obvious route for the disposal of processing wastes with the
development of a serious pollution problem. 
 Fuel resources have not been abundant in the state. Wisconsin lacks coal,
petroleum, and natural gas, the more obvious industrial fuels. The one natural
fuel source was Wisconsin's extensive stand of timber. This was of greater
importance as a source of lumber and pulp, however, and could not serve as
an important fuel resource. Proximity to Great Lakes shipping has prevented
the lack of natural fuel from being a critical one in the development of
industry but this has not completely offset the disadvantage of lack of home
fuel resources. The state is also sufficiently rugged that the energy of
falling water has been effectively harnessed as a source of power, thus offsetting
in part the lack of fuel energy. 

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