- Posted February 14, 2014 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Milwaukee Solvay Coke & Gas, Co.
- Jareen, CNN iReport producer
A little over a year ago, my friend Stephen and I drove to Milwaukee to explore the abandoned Solvay Coke & Gas, Co. The grounds were amazing. Multiple buildings. all condemned. One even looked like it had "booby-traps" set at some of the doors. The buildings had arsenic, lead, asbestos, and a whole host of other chemicals have been mixed into the ground and in the air; thankfully, we had masks.
History: The Milwaukee Solvay Coke Co. originally known as the Milwaukee Coke & Gas Co. started in 1906 during a time when coke was needed the most. Coke is a product used in the steel making industry and is one of the primary ingredients used in the BOF or Basic Oxygen Furnace. Coke allows furnace temperatures to reach the necessary 3000 F at which point iron begins to melt. To make Coke, which is what this company did, raw coal is fed into skinny tall slots that are the coke ovens. These ovens have no air in them which causes the coal to burn slowly. As the coal burns, many of the impurities within the coal get removed which makes the coal acceptable to use for steel making operations. After the coal has been 'cooked' it is now considered coke and is then ejected from the furnace hot & and steamy and is sent to the steel foundrys to be used. This process produced many by-products some of which were helpful, some of which were not so much. As the company's original name implies, Milwaukee Coke & Gas Co, the also produced gas- which came from the Coke. They produced differing fuel gasses, ammonia, and sulfates which were very useful to other industries. In fact, in Milwaukee Solvay Coke Co's best years, the natural gas they produced was used to heat most of the homes in Milwaukee.