Gary Screw & Bolt
Gary Screw & Bolt – In 1910 the furnaces in Chicago’s South Side were just being lit, including the well-known ACME Steel.
These new plants needed workers, and those workers needed places to live. Very close to these mills, just across the Indiana border, was Gary. It was cleaner than the Chicagoan suburbs, and welcomed the new workers into its city—their respectable paychecks included.
That tax base grew a sizable, well-adorned city, and its exploding population brought even more people, prospective workers from the Southern states especially. Companies in the East saw Gary as a place to build a less urban, more industrial, Chicago. One such firm was the Pittsburgh Bolt and Screw Works, which bough a large parcel on Gary’s East Side in 1910. Construction of a new works started that year.
In the summer of 1912, the factory opened its doors to its first 100 workers, one tenth the number it anticipated to employ, once all the equipment was installed.
The factory operated unchallenged in the world market, partly due to its loyal workforce and partly due to its proximity to the Indiana Harbor steel plant that supplied very high-density steel, made from Minnesotan iron ore.
Like many other factories of its type, during World War II the plant was put into government service. During those years, 1,000 men produced more than 4,000 tons of bolts, nuts, rivets, fasteners, etc. Unlike other plants, however, many of the workers were retained after V-J day. 1950 stats report about 900 workers.
This is especially surprising considering a 1947 fire that broke out in the plant, destroying two of its main buildings. Production was reduced almost by half, but the plant stayed open. More than that, the company invested another $1 million in 1956.
It was the 1980s recession that finally claimed Gary Bolt & Screw, with the added pressures of global competition.
Gary Bolt & Screw closed permanently in 1986.
What happened after is just plain amazing and the remnants remain. You can find out more information from the sites below