Scenic USA - Pennsylvania

Bethlehem Steel Works

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Bethlehem Steel Works - Pennsylvania

Photos by Marty Straub
Marty's Bethlehem Steel Gallery

Bethlehem Steel Works    This overgrown and dilapidated collection of rolling mills, Bessemer converters and open-hearth furnaces do little to convince one today that Bethlehem Steel was one of the largest steel coporations in the world.
   Beginning as the Saucona Iron Company in 1857, producing iron rails for the railroad industry, Bethlehem Steel Works Charles Schwab and Eugene Grace turned the fledgling production plant in South Bethlehem into the country's second largest steel producer. Surviving the Great Depression, the company weathered labor reform, anti-trust lawsuits, one of the first executive bonus scandals and growing competition from abroad.
   Pennsylvania history relates how the state's huge coal deposits, its access to large quantities of Great Lakes region iron ore and a large Bethlehem Steel Works influx of eastern European immigrants set the stage for the state's unparalleled growth of the steel industry. World War II's demand for steel continued after the war with American's new love of the auto and the task of rebuilding a war-torn Europe. But by the 1960s, the United States began importing more steel than it exported for the first time in history. High union wages, foreign imports, out of date equipment and a reliance on import tariffs all contributed to demise of this huge steel works in Bethlehem. Bethlehem Steel attempted to reorganize under a 2001 bankruptcy, but by 2003 the company's plants were acquired by the International Steel Group. Today, Bethlehem Steel's blast furnaces stand as a backdrop for SteelStacks and the Sands Casino Resort here in east-central Pennsylvania.

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