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Steel Shots: A Look at Steel’s Past
Posted by Tasha Weiss on April 22, 2011 at 3:25 PM.


Looking northwest at the structural steel framing being erected for the Gary Works’ converter and mixer, Gary, Ind., May 17, 1916. Photo: Calumet Regional Archives, Indiana University Northwest, Gary, Indiana.


There are lots of old images stashed on the Internet, but it’s always a pleasure to find enlightening commentary along with the photos. One such delight is a group of 36 photographs on the Indiana University website showing the early days of the U.S. Steel Gary Works. Offered as a “site tour,” it also includes background information provided by historian, writer, and teacher John C. Trafny. A Gary native who also has written about several Gary neighborhoods for the Images of America series, Trafny brings both historical context and local insight to the photos of the Gary Works.


The site tour was extracted from the “U.S. Steel Gary Works Photograph Collection, 1906-1971,” which the university’s Digital Library Program assembled as “a comprehensive electronic exhibition portraying the history of one of the nation’s largest planned corporate communities.” This collection was the program’s first big project and became available to the public in 2002. More than 2,200 photos of the steel mill and the town are available for browsing.


Numerous links on the site offer interesting complementary materials. One example: a scan of Carl Sandburg’s 1915 poem “The Mayor of Gary,” from his collection Smoke and Steel, published in 1921.


All in all, the website provides an interesting and thought-provoking look back into steel’s American heritage.

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