HIGH QUALITY PORTLAND CEMENT has been manufactured at our plant site since 1897. This site was originally selected as an ideal location for a cement plant because of its vast limestone reserves, abundance of coal, which is a primary source of fuel, and access to the Rock Island and Illinois Central railways – which provided efficient access to Chicago and much of the Midwest.
The first company to produce Portland cement at this site was German-American Portland Cement Works, a subsidiary of Portland Cementfabrik of Hamburg, Germany. Their product was sold under the brand name of “Owl Cement”.
When the United States entered WWI in April 1917, the German-American Portland Cement Works was taken over by the U.S. Alien Property Custodian. Production continued however, but under the name of LaSalle Portland Cement Company.
In 1919 the plant was purchased by a syndicate and then sold to Alpha Portland Cement Company of Easton, Philadelphia in 1920. Alpha Portland Cement Company operated the facility for 50 years, maintaining an average annual workforce of over 160 men. Over those years, Alpha produced cement for such world famous projects as the Merchandise Mart and the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago.
On July 2, 1970 Alpha Cement management announced that they were to begin the process of shutting down production and permanently ceasing all operations at this facility. Step by step, starting first with the quarry, then the kiln, grinding mills, and eventually shipping, all phases of Portland cement production were permanently shut down. By fall, Alpha Cement had shipped its last load of cement and officially closed the plant in November 1970.
In 1972 a joint venture between Centex Corporation and the Pritzker family of Chicago was formed and this new partnership purchased the Alpha Portland Cement Company plant and reserves that year. In 1973-1974 the partnership, now known as Illinois Cement Company, built a new 1,125ton/day production plant. The plant conversion included a modern, state-of-the-art “dry process” system, which included a 200-foot preheat tower. The energy efficiency and environmental performance of “dry process” manufacturing technology was far superior to the older, “wet process” of cement manufacturing that is still being utilized in the U.S. today.