The principal industrial activity in the Southwest Area in the years before its residential development was the mining of clay for the making of fire brick and related products. A large plant for this purpose was that of Laclede Christy, east of Kingshighway near Delor Street. Operations were begun there as early as 1857, but were not on a major scale until completion of a railroad spur to the plant in 1889. By 1900, five miles of subterranean clay mine passage ways honeycombed the area west of Kingshighway near the present Chippewa Street. One of the last vestiges of this mine was a narrow-gauge railway that ran from the mine head, northwest of Chippewa and Macklind, to the plant on Kingshighway. The right-of-way of this railway traversed an alley between Chippewa and Winona for several blocks east of Macklind. It is now evident in the form of a parkway in the center of this double alley. The development of some subdivisions west of Macklind was delayed to allow for the subsidence of these underground passages years after the mining had ceased.

During the period between 1915 and 1925, the City had plans to create an industrial district along a railroad which was to parallel the east side of the River des Peres Drainage Works. This district would have included the area south of Eichelberger Street from January Avenue west and south to the River des Peres and a large part of the present St. Louis Hills west of Donovan Avenue. After the completion of the drainage works, the railroad plan was abandoned and the area was later subdivided for residential use. At present, the only industrial uses in the area are located on its fringes along major streets.