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Bethlehem in Northampton County, Pennsylvania — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
 

The Beginnings of Bethlehem Steel

150 Years of Industrial History

 
 
The Beginnings of Bethlehem Steel Marker image. Click for full size.
By William Fischer, Jr., December 22, 2017
1. The Beginnings of Bethlehem Steel Marker
Inscription.  

The story of Bethlehem Steel begins in the 1840s when the Lehigh Canal and the coal it carried triggered the American Industrial Revolution in the Lehigh Valley. In the 1850s, newly-constructed railroad lines like the Lehigh Valley Railroad needed durable iron rails. Robert Sayre, chief engineer of the Lehigh Valley Railroad, formed the Bethlehem Iron Company in 1860 and hired John Fritz, a self-taught engineer, to construct his innovative rolling mills to make stronger rails.

Facing competition from steel producers in England, and later local producers, Fritz and Sayre began making steel rails in the 1870s, then expanded into forging armor plate and guns for the US Navy in the 1880s. In 1901, shareholders Joseph Wharton and Charles Schwab took control then restructured the company with the plan to develop it into a world-class steel producer. In 1904, the name was changed to the Bethlehem Steel Company.

The building in front of you served as a stock house-storage space for the raw materials to make iron. Built in 1863, this building witnessed over 130 years of iron and steel manufacturing.

"I intend to

The Beginnings of Bethlehem Steel Marker image. Click for full size.
By William Fischer, Jr., December 22, 2017
2. The Beginnings of Bethlehem Steel Marker
make Bethlehem the prize steelworks of its class, not only in the United States, but in the entire world."
-Charles Schwab

Bethlehem Steel Chairman, 1904-1939

[Image captions, from left to right, read]
• A view of the Bethlehem Iron Works
from the north bank of the Lehigh River by Rufus Grider, May 1874.

An 1881 watercolor painting of Bethlehem Iron by Joseph Pennell.
 
Erected by SteelStacks. (Marker Number 1.)
 
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Industry & CommerceMan-Made Features.
 
Location. 40° 36.894′ N, 75° 22.137′ W. Marker is in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, in Northampton County. Marker is on the Hoover-Mason Trestle at SteelStacks, near the elevator. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 711 East 1st Street, Bethlehem PA 18015, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Iron and Steel: A History (a few steps from this marker); Moving Materials (within shouting distance of this marker); Blast Furnace (within shouting distance of this marker); Immigration & Industry (within shouting distance of this marker); Making Iron (within shouting distance of this marker); Hot, Loud, & Dangerous

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(about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); A Community of Workers (about 400 feet away); Air Products (about 400 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Bethlehem.
 
Also see . . .
1. Bethlehem Steel: Forging America. (Submitted on February 4, 2018, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
2. Bethlehem Steel Corporation. (Submitted on February 4, 2018, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
3. The Sinking of Bethlehem Steel. (Submitted on February 4, 2018, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
4. What is SteelStacks?. (Submitted on February 4, 2018, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on February 5, 2018. It was originally submitted on February 4, 2018, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania. This page has been viewed 88 times since then and 11 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on February 5, 2018, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.
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Jul. 11, 2020