America's First Bessemer Steel Mill
Eber B. Ward, pioneer industrialist in many fields, built the Eureka Iron Works in Wyandotte in 1854. Here iron ore from Upper Michigan was smelted into iron in furnaces that were heated by charcoal made from wood cut in the surrounding forests. Here in 1864 the first steel ingots were made by the Bessemer Steel process, a method actually developed by the American, William Kelly, but named for Sir Henry Bessemer. The next year the first Bessemer steel rails were rolled at the Wyandotte mill. Once its value had been proven, Kelly's process was quickly adopted by other companies. Plagued by many difficulties, the Eureka Works was forced to cease operations in 1892.