Lewis University Adele Fay Williams Collection of Drawings and Prints (Lewis University)
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General Refractories 1928
General Refractories 1928
TitleGeneral Refractories 1928
CreatorWilliams, Adele Fay
Date of the DrawingMay 20, 1928
DescriptionDrawing by Adele Fay Williams of General Refractories in Joliet, Illinois. The factory manufactured refractory brick used in creating coke. The refractory is now gone but had been located on Broadway Street in Joliet, Illinois. - Donated by Katherine Woodruff Barnes
Title of ArticleRefractories plant is like giant beehive : process of making bricks both interesting and mysterious.
Date of ArticleMay 20, 1928
Transcript of the ArticleSUNDAY MAY 20, 1928
Process of Making Bricks
Both Interesting and Mys-
The General Refractories plant, North Broadway, is as picturesque as it is interesting and mysterious to the lay mind.
Doubtless you have viewed the circular kilns—like giant beehives, just below the bluff, at the end of the street car line. It is a beautiful situation in the beautiful DesPlaines valley, and it adds one of the most picturesque of the many industries that cluster up and down the valley both north and south of Joliet, a solid, unshakable testimony to the growth of Joliet.
Two Joliet Plants.
This particular plant is one of two in Joliet, the other and older plant being placed just south of Rockdale. Both plants are units of a string or a chain or refractories, 16 in all, controlled by eastern capital. Plants are in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Kentucky and Illinois.
Purrows Sloan, of Philadelphia, is the president of the great co-operative industry.
The Joliet plant serves the Chicago district, and W. D. Anson, a Joliet man is the head. He was district manager when C. C. Chaney was formerly superintendent. C. G. Woollett is now superintendent.
300 Men Employed.
It takes 300 men at least to turn out enough bricks for the region. Most of them are skilled workmen experts at their line, for a delicate touch is necessary even in making a ton a brick. Since last year many of the bricks are machine made, but almost as many are moulded by hand. The Kiln's capacity is 80, 000 a day but just now 65, 000 are turned out daily.
D. A. Strayer is chief clerk in the office. Associated with him are R. L. Keith, E. O. Zuelke, and Miss Olga Krahn. Charles H. Lasker is master mechanic and L. J. Copenhaver is foreman of the machine shop.
Is Difficult Process.
Nearly all of the workers come at 7 o'clock and stop at 4 o'clock. But there are many piece workers, who leave when the work is done, and stay as late as is necessary to finish it. These jaunty toilers and makers of bricks may be seen at almost any hours crossing the big yards to take their way home.
The Broadway plant was built in 1916, just before America entered the war. Later the Rockdale plant was acquired.
Bricks made here, as described by the experts, are silicate bricks used in open hearth furnaces and coke ovens. The chief constituents is a "ganister" rock and stone which is shipped from Devil's Lake, Wis. where the company owns a large quarry tract, big enough to make bricks for years.
Name Is Explained.
But how did these people come to the point of calling a brick works a ‘Refractory?' You may ask with reason.
But you'd scarcely believe how simple is the answer. It means just what it says "refractory", no more, no less, incredible as it seems. It is called general refractories because it is that. The plant and the people deal with refractory elements.
In the first place they have chosen "ganister rock"—a siliceous clay rock, the most stubborn, obdurate, unmanageable, contumaceous, perverse, refractory material, of which to make brick. They have chosen it because it is "refractory"—and it can hold out against opposing elements, such as fire and force.
Subjected to Intense Heat.
But it is so very "refractory" that it has to be crushed and mauled terrifically, ground to a pulp and grounded again: punished for its very virtues, like some well meaning people. All of this is a preparatory course that every atom must go thru before becoming brick. After all the grinding and mixing and wetting and pouring has been done, it is poured into forms of bricks—and there are countless forms.
The bricks are left to dry from 24 to 36 hours. They are then placed in the picturesque kilns, the kiln is fired, and the bricks are left seven to nine days. The heat is about 3, 300 degrees.
These details are but a small part of the complex processes thru which the modern, harmless, necessary brick must travel before it becomes a real brick. And anyone of the 300 intelligent workmen can give it from beginning to end."
SubjectWilliams, Adele Fay
General Refractories -- Joliet (Ill.)
Industry -- Joliet ( Ill.) -- History
Bricks -- Joliet (Ill.)
SourceClick on this link to see more historical information on Joliet, Illinois - http://www/lewisu.edu/imcanal
Publisher (Digital)Lewis University
RightsAll rights held by Lewis University. For permission to reproduce, distribute, or otherwise use this image, please contact the Howard and Lois Adelmann Regional History Collection at Lewis University at 815-836-5665.
CollectionAdele Fay Williams Collection of Drawings and Prints (Lewis University)
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