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Eagle Zinc Superfund Site Tour

Updated: Sep 14, 2021

The Lanyon Zinc Co. of Hillsboro Illinois began zinc smelter operations in 1912. Eagle-Picher Industries purchased the location in 1919 and continued zinc smelting and manufacturing sulfuric acid and zinc oxide until 1980. After 1980, the site was purchased by Sherwin-Williams, which continued manufacturing zinc oxide until the plant was sold to the Eagle Zinc Co. in 1984. Eagle Zinc processed zinc oxide until all industrial operations ceased in 2003.

Eagle Zinc Hillsboro Illinois
Eagle Zinc Hillsboro Illinois

In 2012 I contacted the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency and requested a tour of the site on behalf of the Historical Society of Montgomery County. In August 2013, ten years after production ceased at the site I was granted a tour. I was able to spend an entire afternoon photographing the remaining buildings on the site.


The Eagle Picher Lead Company Plant, one half mile northwest of the railroad depot, is one of Hillsboro’s main industrial concerns. The plant buildings occupy about thirty acres of ground. The company manufactures all grades of zinc oxides, including American process, French process, and leaded zinc oxides. The finished product is used in the manufacture of paint, potter clays, and rubber tires.

Zinc and lead ores and slab zinc from the lead mines in the Tri-State area are first oxidized by heating them to a vapor temperature. The zinc oxide is then conveyed from the furnaces through large pipes to the bag houses where it is blended and packed for shipment. Oxides from the Hillsboro plant are shipped to all points in the United States and to many foreign countries. The employees have a large, well equipped clubroom and other recreational facilities. The company has an excellent record in the field of safety and health.

Taken from: Hillsboro Guide 1940


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