Historian will discuss steelmaking in Granite City

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GAINES

Edwardsville, IL – Local Labor history will come to life on Sunday, Sept. 10, when historian Gary Gaines will present a public discussion on steelmaking in Granite City.

The third-generation steelworker worked at Granite City Steel from 1970 until he retired in 2008. His grandfather, Louis Madsen, was a founding union member at the plant.

The free program will be at 2 p.m. on that Sunday at the Madison County Archival Library, next door to the county museum at 801 N. Main St. in Edwardsville.

Gaines plans to discuss how steelmaking started in Granite City, when the Niedringhaus brothers needed to expand their enamel cookware business in St. Louis.

They bought 3,500 acres near a farming community called Kinderhook that later was rebuilt as Granite City for its product, then called graniteware, which evolved into steel production.

FIRST UNIONS

Union lodges were formed in the city starting in 1899 and flourished despite opposition from steel magnate Andrew Carnegie. In 1971, the factory became part of National Steel and in 2003, U.S. Steel.

Gaines is a life-long resident of the area. His father, uncle, wife Norma, two brothers and three cousins all have worked at Granite City Steel. He served in every position in his union of security officers and was elected financial secretary when five locals merged.

He served as a health and safety representative and traveled to other Steel Workers’ locations to train workers.

The Archival Library is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday through Friday and from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Sundays. The museum is currently closed for renovations.

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