Bay View Rolling Mill | Wisconsin Historical Society

Historical Essay

Bay View Rolling Mill

Bay View Rolling Mill | Wisconsin Historical Society

Bay View Rolling Mills, late-19th c. (WHi-7015)





Location: S. Superior St. and E. Russell Ave., Milwaukee, Milwaukee County 

Near this site in Bay View stood the Milwaukee Iron Company rolling mill, the first major heavy industry in the region and an important producer of iron and steel for the Midwest. The mill, which opened in 1868, transformed ore from Dodge County and Lake Superior area mines into iron products, including thousands of tons of rail for the region's growing railroads. By 1885, more than 1500 people were employed at the plant, some recruited from the iron-producing districts of the British Isles, and the village of Bay View grew from a rural crossroads into an industrial community surrounding the rolling mill. On May 5, 1886, the mill was the scene of a major labor disturbance. Nearly 1500 strikers from around Milwaukee marched on the Bay View mill to dramatize their demand for an eight-hour work day. The local militia, called to the scene by Governor Jeremiah Rusk, fired on the crowd, killing seven people. The mill closed in 1929, and the buildings were demolished a decade later. But the community of Bay View remains, a neighbor-hood of mill workers' houses, shops, and churches.

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[Source: McBride, Sarah Davis. History Just Ahead (Madison:WHS, 1999).]