International Harvester


The City of Canton, in west central Illinois, was the home of farm implement manufacturing since 1847. International Harvester (IH) was the most recent of these industries, having been located in Canton for approximately 60 years. When IH closed its doors in 1983, Canton not only lost a considerable source of revenue and employment, but found itself heir to an abandoned and unsightly 33-acre industrial site located in the center of its downtown district. Historic site use included industrial manufacturing and, later, scrapping and salvage operations. The potential environmental contamination associated with these uses represented one of many challenges to the City’s efforts at redevelopment.

Canton received a Brownfield Assessment Pilot grant of $200,000 from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) Region V. This federal grant can be used for environmental site assessments, as well as the investigation and identification of redevelopment options. The planning group chosen by the City was Vandewalle & Associates (V&A). V&A helped the City raise $120,000 in additional funding from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA). As part of the redevelopment team, Environmental Operations, Inc. (EOI) was selected by Canton and V&A to conduct the assessments necessary to define the site’s environmental concerns. EOI and V&A have since secured an additional $200,000 in supplemental Brownfield grants for the project.


EOI’s Phase I assessments indicated evidence of significant contaminants throughout the IH site, including fuels, solvents, pesticides, PCBs, miscellaneous organics, and metals. EOI engineers developed and executed Phase II site investigations, further defining areas of concern and impacts to soil and groundwater. By partnering with the United States Geological Survey (USGS) and the USEPA to reduce investigation and lab costs, EOI has determined the type and extent of contamination. This information is being used to define remedial approaches consistent with future development plans for the site.


The City of Canton and V&A are in the process of the redevelopment planning of the IH site. The themes of outdoor recreation and agricultural heritage are being considered, and contacts have been made with potential developers. The vision of the City of Canton, with the assistance of V&A, EOI, the USEPA, and the IEPA, is making possible the physical and economic revitalization of the city’s downtown.