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)
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. GEOGRAPHY 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. RESOURCES 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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