U. S. Steel - Gary Works Hits 100th Year Milestone

Five score years, a century, ago, on July 23, 1908, the 12,000-ton steamer Elbert H. Gary entered the new U. S. Steel - Gary Works harbor at the southern tip of Lake Michigan.  It was loaded with iron ore and 500 passengers.  The ship was accompanied by a convoy of U.S. Navy gunboats to help mark the historic occasion.  As a ceremony and parade proceeded down Broadway, and through the fledgling City of Gary, the iron ore was unloaded for charging into the Gary Works' blast furnaces; beginning operations of the most productive steel facility ever built.

The Elbert H. Gary's entry into the new steel mill harbor was a major event in 1908.  Excavation of the site and construction of facilities had taken a little more than two years, a project compared in scope with construction of the Panama Canal.  Following arrival of the first iron ore, Gary Works produced its first blast furnace iron on December 21, 1908.  The first heat of steel was tapped on February 3, 1909.

Eager to be part of the historic day, thousands of people -- dignitaries, workers and citizens -- lined the plant's docks and greeted the incoming steamer with cheering and songs.  Three Navy gunboats marked the opening of the new harbor and the arrival of the first vessel with a 21-gun cannon salute.  The keynote address was delivered by John W. Kern, the Democratic nominee for vice president, running with William Jennings Bryan.

Gary Works represented the vision of Judge Elbert H. Gary, elected the first chairman of U.S. Steel when it was founded in 1901.  Judge Gary conceived of a completely new steel plant on an undeveloped site which would incorporate all the elements of an integrated facility, from raw materials through a range of finished steel products.  The site was chosen and on March 12, 1906, surveyors drove stakes into the expanse of swamp and dune land, and construction began.  The project included elevating the entire mill site by 15 feet; digging a three-mile long tunnel for water, 80 feet down and extending a mile into the lake; laying 51 miles of railroad track; building houses for thousands of workers, and constructing the essential services for a city of 250,000 residents, in addition to all the plant's processing facilities.
[Comment - GDY]  Notwithstanding such grandiose projections, Gary, IN never attained anything near a population of 250,000.  At best, it only approached 200,000.  This was some 40 years ago, back in the mid-to-late 1960's.  The present day population is well below 98,000, and continually declining.

The arrival of the first ore boat at Gary Works in 1908 marked not just the start of operations at U.S. Steel's flagship mill, but also the birth of the first truly integrated major steel facility in America.  It also represented an early milestone in Northwest Indiana's rich steel heritage," said Raymond R. Terza, plant manager of primary operations at Gary Works.

Terza went on to note:  "Today, Northwest Indiana has become the world's steel-making capital.  It is also the focal point of the 1990's dramatic re-birth of America's steel industry as a high-tech, globally competitive leader.  The men and women of Gary Works are proud of the plant's status as the largest steel mill in North America, and even prouder of its status as one of the most modern and efficient facilities in the world."

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Created 15 Sep 2008 - 14:24:46 Hrs.

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