Getting a lesson on steel in the Dunes
By Amy Lavalley Post-Tribune correspondent August 25, 2013 10:06PM
Ken Keller of Chesterton helps with a demonstration of how steel is made Sunday at Indiana State Park. | Post-Tribune photo
For more on programs at the Indiana Dunes State Park, go to www.in.gov/dnr/parklake/2980.htm, or call 926-1952.
CHESTERTON — Ken Keller is a retired project engineer from the former Inland Steel, so he probably knows a thing or two about steel.
Sunday, he was in the nature center at Indiana Dunes State Park with about two dozen other folks, learning about steel mills, their ties to the dunes, and how steel is made.
“There are several of us here from our local historical society. We were curious about what they had to say,” said Keller, a member of the Duneland Historical Society, who at one point in the program donned an orange safety helmet and gloves to take part in a demonstration. He added the historical society might do the program, too.
The majority of the people attending the first-time program were from the region, including some, like Keller, who are retired from the mills. A smattering of campers included Dara Revelli of Elkhart, who also helped with the scaled-down demo.
“I’m just curious about steel,” she said.
Development of the mills sparked interest in preserving the dunes, leading to the creation of the state park in 1925 and the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore in 1966, interpretive naturalist Katy Crass said.
Elbert H. Gary, founder of U.S. Steel and the namesake for the Lake County city, donated $250,000 to start the purchase of land for the state park, Crass said.
Tyler Botbyl, a project engineer with ArcelorMittal in Burns Harbor, gave an overview of how steel is made, from the iron ore that arrives via Lake Michigan and the coal that arrives on trains to the final product, which is in cars, appliances, Navy ships and pipelines.
He also offered a few facts about steel and the industry’s environmental efforts. The typical household appliance, for example, uses 99 pounds of steel, though they are getting lighter.
“All that’s recyclable,” he said, adding 69 percent of all steel is recycled, a higher percentage than aluminum, glass and paper combined.
Steel mills also are emitting fewer pollutants.
“Over the last 50 years, there has been a huge change, and it’s been reduced quite a bit,” he said, adding there’s been a 90 percent reduction in emissions over the past 10 years, according to the American Iron and Steel Institute.”