Thursday, March 3, 2011

Bethlehem Steel

Bethlehem Steel, originally uploaded by William 74.
Once the second largest steel producer in America, Pennsylvania based Bethlehem Steel had roots going back to the 1850's, with the formation of Saucona Iron Company. By 1860 the company had moved to Bethlehem, PA, and incorporated the town's name into it's own. By 1899, the company had assumed the name Bethlehem Steel and became a major supplier of the metal.

Bethlehem Steel eventually rose to great prominence in American industry, developing rolling techniques that allowed wide-flange shapes to be made, and helping to usher in the age of skyscrapers. Bethlehem eventually became a major supplier to the construction industry.

However, Bethlehem didn't just make steel girders-the company made an enormous range of products, large and small. Bethlehem Shipbuilding was-naturally-a shipbuilding concern, and during both World Wars the company was a major supplier of armor plate and other ordinance to the U.S. military. In addition to this, Bethlehem was still a big supplier of building materials, everything from girders to sewer grates. Heck, I still see manhole covers with the company's name on them.

This is the counterweight on an old, hand operated railroad switch at the Fox River Trolley Museum. The switch itself dates from the early sixties, and was made in Chicago. Like many industrial things, it features the manufacturer's name cast right into it, and is perfectly legible even after decades of being outside.

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