U.S. Steel Gary Works Photograph Collection, 1906-1971

Lesson 1

High School : Lesson 1 | Lesson 2

Lesson plan developed by John Trafny.

In 1906, construction crews began work on the planned United States Steel plant to be located on the southern end of Lake Michigan. Company directors decided on a site in Northwest Indiana because of what the region offered. Railroad lines, which ran through the area, would be used to bring coal and to ship the finished steel products. Raw materials could be shipped across the lake and there was ample water for the steelmaking process. Indiana taxes were lower and the plant would be close to Chicago. Finally, a ready workforce was available from South Chicago and throughout the Midwest.

Before production could begin, the entire landscape of dunes, oak forest, and swamps would have to be developed. Engineers from Illinois Steel would have to lay out the plant and rail yard. Arthur P. Melton and the Gary Land Company would design the town. Thousands of workers, engineers to common laborers would be needed. Heavy equipment, steel beams and rail, concrete, and special machinery would have to be shipped in. Even work horses would have to be ordered.

Once all plans were agreed upon the infrastructure of the plant would be put in place. A huge railroad yard was designed by John Kirk. A ship canal for ore boats would be dug. Construction on the rest of the massive plant would follow.


Lesson Plan

Have students break into small groups of two to three then answer the questions assigned.