Day 128: Touring Bethlehem Steel

If I could go back in time and live in Bethlehem for just one day, I would pick a day in the prime of Bethlehem Steel. To see that plant in all its glory would be an amazing sight. But unfortunately, my time machine broke last week so going back isn’t an option. I can, however, visit the plant in the present. In fact, the new ArtsQuest center in Bethlehem now has daily walking tours of Bethlehem Steel. When I found out about this I was really excited, and today was finally my lucky day “back in time”. Or so I thought.

Of course I would pick the hottest day of the year thus far to take an hour-long walking tour outside. And to make matters worse, I dressed in shorts and a light tank-top (because of the heat), and upon approaching my tour group of people all over the age of 45, got the impression of disapproval towards my “lack” of clothing.

I must say, post-tour, that I am disappointed with my time at the SteelStacks. I hadn’t gotten my hopes up about being able to go inside any of the buildings, but I was still let down when our tour guide told us this was not an option.

Also, I didn’t feel like our tour guide really had a good grasp on the full history and detail of the plant itself. I apparently wasn’t the only one in my group who thought this as I overheard a husband say to his wife, “She’s making half this stuff up; she doesn’t know what she’s talking about.” Now, I did learn some really interesting facts and it wasn’t that I didn’t appreciate what the tour guide did know. Buut, it definitely wasn’t worth the $14 I paid (Yes, it was $14!).

Here are some of the interesting and random facts that I learned and wrote down to share with all of you:

1 the Bethlehem Steel plant, in its prime, was 1800 acres and 4.5 miles long

2 during its prime in World War 2, Bethlehem Steel employed approximately 30,000 people

3 there is over 300 miles of track (train, carts, etc.) running throughout the Bethlehem Steel plant

4 700 people died on site at Bethlehem Steel, with the highest toll during the World War (and this doesn’t include those who died off-site due to injury/work while there

5 the Bethlehem Steel plant (in Bethlehem) was last used in 1995

6 in 2001, the Bethlehem Steel Corporation (there were plants all over, not just in Bethlehem) declared bankruptcy, and in 2003, was sold to the International Steel Group

Now that you’ve read those facts, you can pretty much skip the guided tour and just drive yourself around the campus :) I’m kidding. It was still interesting and if you are really fascinated with the Bethlehem Steel plant, you should look into it. You can get information about the tours and purchase tickets here.

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