I'm finding it tough to age gracefully. It seems that every bike ride, morning jog, and yoga session brings a new sort of ache to my constitution. When I try to commiserate this with my fellow sexagenarian, I find little solace. Most of my fellow older athletes ignore my complaints only to talk about how their recent knee or hip replacement have eliminated most their pains and issues. "If I knew how much better I’d be able to ride my bike, I would have had the hip replacement years ago," he said.
For the last few weeks, I've been speaking with a host of plant manufacturers and their customers regarding an upcoming story on plant repairs for The Concrete Producer's August issue. My interviewees have indicated that the ages of their production plants are in the same ship as my friend's hip. They've aged to a spot where it’s time for modernization. It's not too surprising. Many of our iconic operations were in production during the National Ready Mixed Concrete Association's 50th anniversary, which was celebrated 35 years ago!
My research has brought me to wonder about the existence, condition, and operability the concrete plants at which were batched the concrete that built America. Many of these engineering marvels are about to be lost. In many situations these locations will be retrofitted with new modern plants that in turn will become our next generation of famous operations. This is a topic that needs to be documented for the ACI Committee on Concrete History.
I'd like to document the location and history of these iconic plants. For start, I know the location of perhaps the most famous plant. The concrete facility that batched the mix for the lower portion of the Hoover Dam is resting on the bottom of Lake Meade about one mile north of the Dam. I've seen pictures of its underwater world existence in Dr. Luke Snell's presentation on the World of Concrete' Hoover Dam Tour.
I'm not planning on scuba diving to see our industry's great plant. But I am developing a vacation road trip to visit many of these landmark operations in the next year. To start, I've made arrangements this month to visit the source of concrete for many of Chicago's great concrete structures built in the 1970s and 1980s. It was my first stop in the concrete business. I know it as Maurie's Dream, but many of those in the know remember it as Yard 1. And next month, you'll know it as well.
If you have a favorite plant that you'd like me to include in my list, please email at firstname.lastname@example.org.