Material Timelines

Material Histories / Core Samples
Alix Anne Shaw
Mixed Media

Each core sample represents a material history of an industrial sites along the Calumet River. Beginning in approximately 1850 and continuing to the present, each column acts as an indicator of the degree to which the surrounding communities have been impacted, both physically and economically, by industrial production and is concomitant materials and contaminants.

Rail-to-Water Transport / KCBX North terminal.

Rail-to-Water Transport (left) and American Ship Building (right).

First developed in 1872, this site was used for over a century by the Rail-To-Water Transport Company for the transfer of raw materials including coal and metal. In 1990, it was purchased by petroleum giant KCBX and used for the storage of petroleum coke, an environmentally-contaminating industrial by-product. In 2015—due to a lawsuit over toxic dust blowing into neighboring communities—the petcoke piles were relocated across the state line in Indiana. This plot of land is currently unused.

Morton Salt Pile, 101st Street (East Bank)

First developed in 1880 for use by the South Chicago Brewing Company, within a decade this site became the home of the American Ship Building Company. This company built many of the vessels that were used to transport materials in and through the Great Lakes, experiencing its heyday in the 1940s. The yard closed in 1979 and sat vacant until it was purchased by Morton in 1989. It is currently used to as a storage site for salt.

ACME Steel / KCBX South Terminal, 108th to 111th Street (East bank)

Founded in 1884, Acme originally produced barbed steel staples. Known later as Interlake Steel, the mill operated continuously until 2001, when it became the last of the area’s three steel mills to shut down. The land was purchased by petroleum giant KCBX in 2012 and used for the storage of environmentally-contaminating petroleum coke. In 2015, due to a lawsuit, the petcoke piles were moved across the state line to Indiana. This site is currently unused.

Republic Steel (left) and ACME Steel / KCBX South Terminal (right).

Carmeuse Lime, E 103rd Street (East bank)

Purchased by Marblehead Lime in 1926, this tract of land was used for the storage and production of powdered lime. Later known as Carmeuse Lime, the facility operated until 2012, when serious clean air violations, due to so-called "fugitive dust," drew the attention of the EPA. The site was closed and is currently used to store materials including lime, salt, and pig iron.