Duluth Works - Building Steel For The West

Building Steel For The West

The Duluth Works primary purpose was to build steel for the expanding Midwest prairies and far west plains. When first constructed, it was originally intended to build rails for the expanding railroads, but by the time the mill was completed in 1915, the railroads had already reached their peak of construction and it was felt that those needs could best be handled from the Chicago area. So after completing its rail mill, it was converted into billet finishing facilities. In 1922, after going over what products would best serve the plant's existence, U.S. Steel decided to expand its Morgan Park operation and built a new wire, rod, Nail mill, and fence post fabrication facility. These products, it was felt, best suited Duluth's capabilities for integrated steel production. Yet, even after the expansion of these facilities, the Duluth Works only consumed 20% of its own steel production for its finished products. The rest of its semi-finished steel was shipped to other facilities for finishing. Even more disheartening, its proposed 12 state market area and areas of Canada were sparsely populated and able to be supplied with products from other mills. Despite these early predictions, Minnesota Steel remained at work producing steel products right up to its very end. Some of its products were only produced within the U.S. Steel Corporation at the Duluth Works facility. These included steel wool, certain nails, fence and fence post and a new product introduced in 1954, welded wire fabric, primarily for use with concrete to produce more sturdy road construction. Some of this material was used to produce missile silos for the U.S. Air Forces' Strategic Air Command throughout the Midwest.

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