Term: Lime industry in Wisconsin
Definition: The process of burning limestone to form lime is known as calcination and results in a pure lime that is a basic ingredient in construction mortar, plaster, whitewash, and fertilizer. Many of Wisconsin's early settlers prepared lime for mortar and whitewash, creating a demand for product that led to the emergence of a prominent lime industry in the 1850s. The commercial lime industry was concentrated primarily in the eastern counties, particularly in Waukesha County where some of the state's most abundant limestone deposits were located. Ten commercial firms had been established by 1850. By 1892, Wisconsin ranked among the leading producers of lime. As railroads expanded, lime manufacturing operations moved increasingly into the northern counties, especially Fond du Lac, Door, and Manitowoc. Wisconsin was the nation's third largest producer of lime from 1907 to 1914. The lime industry began to decline in Wisconsin during the Great Depression, even as new and varied uses for lime appeared. Up to that time, lime had been used primarly for building but as the paper, glass, steel, and various chemical industries began using more lime, Wisconsin lime was not regarded as suitable for these new purposes. By 1940, only 11 producers remained.
[Source: Wisconsin's Cultural Resources Study Units, Wisconsin Historical Society]