Discussion Steel rails

atlantis

Sergeant Major
Joined
Nov 12, 2016
The first steel rails for railroads were imported to the US in 1864. Question did confederate iron makers try and produce any steel or is this another case of the big industrial advantage over the confederacy.
 

DaveBrt

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Mar 6, 2010
Location
Charlotte, NC
The first steel rails for railroads were imported to the US in 1864. Question did confederate iron makers try and produce any steel or is this another case of the big industrial advantage over the confederacy.
Steel was used only where its high labor costs justified it -- drill bits, for example. The Confederacy made some, but imported most of its requirements. Of course, no steel rail was made in the South (almost no iron rail either).
 

Lubliner

1st Lieutenant
Forum Host
Joined
Nov 27, 2018
Location
Chattanooga, Tennessee
A good question, and thanks for the post. The importation possibilities for the south was very limited by 1864. Most attempts at blockade running had cargo deemed necessary for immediate survival.
Lubliner.
 

rebelatsea

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Mar 30, 2013
Location
Kent ,England.
Steel was used only where its high labor costs justified it -- drill bits, for example. The Confederacy made some, but imported most of its requirements. Of course, no steel rail was made in the South (almost no iron rail either).
Dave, somewhere in my documentation I have a report that Charlotte Naval ironworks were making steel but in what for quantities or what for I don't know.
 

major bill

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Forum Host
Joined
Aug 25, 2012
Steel rails we not made in the US until May of 1865, so not until nearly the end of the Civil War. In the 1860s Bessemer steel production required unusually high quality iron ore. This type of iron ore was coming from some Michigan iron mines and the Eureka Iron Works was established in Wyandotte Michigan (near Detroit) in 1857. In 1865 Eureka Iron Works steel was sent to North Chicago Rolling Mill where it was turned into steel rails.

At the time Michigan was harvesting large quantities of low cost hard wood needed and mining unusually high quality iron ore. Once you add in the inexpensive water transportation from the iron mines and timber areas, and the water movement of the steel to Chicago lowed the cost of making steel Detroit. This allowed the production of of steel and shipping that steel by boat to Chicago available at a price that allowed iron rails to be made.
 
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