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Encyclopedia Dubuque


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Affiliated with the Local History Network of the State Historical Society of Iowa, and the Iowa Museum Association.


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BLUM COMPANY. Started in 1926 by Max Blum, a Russian immigrant, the company was eventually renamed Blum Company and moved to its permanent location in 1942. Blum liked the proximity to the railroad.

In 1993 as the calendar indicated, the firm bought hides, ginseng, and scrap metals. It sold structural steel and pipe, culverts, cattle guards, steel fabricated to the specifications of the purchaser, and reinforcing rods and mesh. The company, headed in 2015 by its second-generation owner, Alvin Blum, was scheduled to close during 2016 as a result of the BEE BRANCH creek restoration. (1)

In December 2015, the city paid Alvin Blum $277,000 for a quarter-acre parcel and obtained a $200,000 Environmental Protection Agency grant of $200,000 to clean it up. In 2016 members of the city council were asked to approve a $100,000 purchase price for property also belonging to Blum on the other side of the railroad tracks. An environmental assessment found several heavily corroded 76-pound steel flask shipping containers of liquid mercury on the first floor of a building along with other potential sources of volatile or toxic substances. The ground was revealed to show "fairly widespread contamination including lead, arsenic and asbestos. To eliminate the exposure the city choose to "cap" the parcel for $500,000 rather than remove the soil which could double the costs. Plans called for redeveloping the site into a recreational space with bike trail, basketball court, parking, playground, public restrooms and maintenance building. (2)

In 2017 the city received a $200,000 grant to help clean-up the closed facility. Dubuque was one of 172 communities in the nation to receive funds from the EPA's Brownfields program. The grant will help in the $500,000 effort to deconstruct the structures on the property and excavate and provide offsite disposal of the contaminated material. Studies had shown that without the effort the site was not suitable for residential, commercial or industrial purposes. (3)

According to the 1945 through 1993 Dubuque City Directory, the company was located at 411 East 15th Street.

Source: "Chronology" Telegraph Herald, 1979 p. 15D



1. Garbe, William. "Piles of Memories," Telegraph Herald, July 5, 2015, p. 1B

2. Barton, Thomas J. "City Seeks Former Junkyard for Play Area," Telegraph Herald, December 18, 2016, p. 19A

3. "$200,000 Grant to Help Dubuque Clean Up Former Scrap Yard, Recycling Facility," Telegraph Herald, June 3, 2017, p. 3A