American Zinc Company 1918

Updated: Sep 19, 2021

American Zinc - Taylor Springs Illinois - By Karl Smith 1918

Do you recognize this industrial plant in 1918?

American Zinc Company - ASARCO - Taylor Springs Illinois

By Tom Bliss

Do you recognize this Industrial plant which was a hub of activity during World War I?

If you do, your memory goes back to 1918 when this picture of the American Zinc Company plant (now ASARCO) at Taylor Springs was taken by Karl Smith.

The pictures shows the plant as it looked seven years after it was built in 1911 to produce slab zinc and sulfuric acid.

American Zinc had purchased 673 acres of land at the west edge of Taylor Springs. The plant site and adjoining lakes covered 181 acres. There were 189 acres under cultivation and 303 acres of woodland.

The plant was built to handle 100 tons of zinc ore and 200 tons of coal a day to produce 50 tons of slab zinc and 100 tons of sulfuric acid.

The buildings constructed when the plant was established consisted of a pottery building, machine shop, storeroom, blacksmith shop, roasting plant, one storage facility, crushing plant, acid plant, mixing room, power plant, retort furnaces, office building, laboratory and numerous small buildings.

Two large lakes were constructed in 1916 to supply water for the plant, and a third lake was completed in 1917.

The plant was enlarged in 1916 to supply the demand for slab zinc and sulfuric acid during World War I. Two American process zinc oxide blocks were constructed at that time.

Zinc ore, shipped to Taylor Springs from the American Zinc Company mines in Missouri, were fed into five horizontal retort type furnaces to produce the slab zinc. The acid plant was designed to treat the waste gas from the roasters. The operation of the horizontal retort furnaces was discontinued in 1924 and the equipment Was transferred to the company’s plant at Fairmont City. The roasters and acid systems were shut down in 1930. Since then, the plant has manufactured zinc oxide.

The history of the American Zinc plant was given to the writer of this article by John Millice, retired superintendent of the ASARCO plant.

From the Montgomery County News - Thursday, March 22, 1984

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