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Cast Iron Cistern Cover

Date: 1922-1963


Description: This is a metal cover for a cistern, or a large container (usually behind a house) used for storing and catching rainwater for use by people. It was made by the Sioux City Foundry and Boiler Company, one of the many different foundries that started here in Sioux City. Foundries are factories that produce metal castings. Liquid metal is poured into a mold and then cooled and removed from the mold, creating a cast. Cast metal, most commonly aluminum and iron, can be used to make metal items of many shapes and sizes, such as this circular cistern cover. Sioux City was a hotspot for foundries, even though the surrounding region contained very little iron and metal ores. Ore had to be imported from elsewhere, but cast metal was in such high demand in the industrial world many cities in the Midwest had foundries. Sioux City foundries were successful due to the city’s shipping industry, which allowed for the transport of manufactured metal all across the U. S.


Sioux City Foundry and Boiler was originally Sioux City Foundry and Machine Works, started in 1871. In this time the company manufactured steam engines, machinery, pipes, fittings, and bolts in brass and iron. The company was also successful in producing machinery for steamboats and mills, as well as boiler works. Sales soared and the company expanded to a new warehouse in Leeds and changed its name: Sioux City Engine Works. Their new name shows their primary purpose: the manufacture of steam engines and their parts. They also produced a revolutionary furnace known as the Norfolk furnace, which was immensely popular. Sioux City Foundry and Boiler Company became the foundry’s name in 1922, and this name lasted until 1963 when it was renamed simply Sioux City Foundry Company. The company still exists today in two plants: one for fabrication (working metal by cutting, bending, and welding) on Division Street and the true casting foundry in South Sioux City.

Donor: Jim Schroeder

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