Hammond's Industry
Steel Mills, Oil Refineries, Manufacturing
"Trains, Drains & Open Hearths"



"Hammond, Indiana, is located in the extreme
Northwestern corner of the state, where the state line
ends abruptly in the icey, detergent-filled waters
of that queen of the Great Lakes, Lake Michigan.
It clings precariously to the underbody of Chicago
like a barnacle clings to the rotting hulk
of a tramp steamer.

From time to time echoes of the Outside World
arrive in Hammond, but they are muted and bear
little relevance to the daily life of its inhabitants.
Theirs is a world of belching furnaces, roaring
Bessemer Converters, fragrant Petroleum distillation plants,
and freight yards. Mostly, their Social life is found
in Bowling halls or Union halls or beer halls,
not to mention dance halls and pool parlors.



The orange glow of the Open Hearth
lights up the evening sky over Hammond.


    Under the soil of most backyards, covered with a thin,  drifting coat of blast-furnace dust and refinery waste, made fragrant by the soaked-in aroma of numerous soap factories, lie in buried darkness arrowheads, stone axes, and broken pots of the departed Indian.  Where the tribes dance in Indian summer now grow Used Car lots and vast, swampy junkyards...  

It is a place people never really come to, but mostly want to leave. And leave they do, to go to the fabled East or to the unbelievable California coast. They rarely talk about where they have come from. There isn't much to say. At night in Hammond the rabbits still hop through the backyard gardens. The trains thunder through the dark on their way to somewhere else. The sky is always lit by the eternal flames of the Open Hearths and blast furnaces.

Nothing much has changed, probably least of all those who were born and formed by the Northern Indiana mill-town existence."

-Jean Shepherd

In God We Trust: All Others Pay Cash
Broadway Books: New York



Standard Oil of Indiana - Whiting, Indiana
Just north of Hammond



  There were, according to a count taken in 1959, some 117 different railroad tracks that crossed the city of Hammond, Indiana. Above, the Monon, Erie and Nickel Plate railroad bridges are but a few that were built in Hammond. It was, perhaps, the first real classless society inasmuch as everyone lived "on the other side of the tracks."   It was an era of steam engines that filled the horizon with plumes of white frothy steam as the crossing gates came down and the locomotive would appear in the distance. The loud train whistle had to give a warning at every crossing which meant that the air was always filled with chugging steam engines, whistles and rumbling railroad cars "on their way to somewhere else."