The piece begins with a heavy, ponderous theme marked "Molto pesante," which depicts the limestone quarries that first earned Joliet the nickname "City of Stone" in the early 1800s. The mood soon changes and we can visualize huge barges laden down with stone, making their way through the city's large lift bridges and into the famous Illinois and Michigan Canal on their way to regional customers.
With the construction of a steel mill in 1869, Joliet became known as the "City of Steel." Stone and steel were now shipped by both canal and railroad, and this exciting new age is represented by a modern, fast-moving theme in a bright major key.
The two themes, "stone" and "steel," are then further developed, and the piece culminates in a majestic, celebratory final statement of the "steel" theme. (6:00)