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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 18

 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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