I love this company. Saw this here.
Five Objects from The National Musuem of Industrial History (Part 1)
I was recently invited on a full day’s tour of The National Museum of Industrial History in Bethlehem, PA, housed in the now dormant Bethlehem Steel Mill and a remote climate controlled facility. Above are five objects that caught my eye, artifacts of a most prolific and productive time in the annals of American history, items of varying dimension, use and significance, all emblems of phenomenal ingenuity and exertion. I’d like to extend special thanks to Mike Piersa for guiding us through the hallowed cathedrals and supplying us with these illuminating captions. - Peter Buchanan-Smith
1. A steel mill is basically a giant machine that stretches across the landscape for miles. To connect the various components in Bethlehem, the company formed its own wholly owned subsidiary railroad, the Philadelphia, Bethlehem, and New England Railroad. It never made it to Philadelphia nor New England, but it did have approximately 150 miles of track within the Bethlehem plant. Submarine shaped railroad cars laden with molten iron, outgoing flatcars of steel beams, and any cargo in between was hauled by this railroad. This box was recovered, along with many other artifacts, from the railroad’s locomotive repair shop shortly before it was demolished to make way for the Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem in 2007.
2. Dating from 1864, this “flyball” governor utilized brass balls to control the speed of a stationary steam engine. As the engine turned, a system of belts, pulleys, and gears spun the balls. The centrifugal motion of the spinning balls drew them away from each other as the engine ran picked up speed. The terms “balls out” and “balls to the wall” originated with this technology, being references to the position of the balls when the engine was running at its top speed.
3. When dealing with artifacts of industry, it is vital to preserve not just the basic object, but the spare parts to go with it. These particular items are resistor grids used in the control systems of variable speed electric motors, as used on overhead cranes, trolleys, and electric locomotives through the bulk of the Twentieth Century.
4. When molten iron and scrap are converted into steel, impurities known as slag must be skimmed away to keep the steel clean. This molten mixture was poured into cinder pots, which were then dumped outside, where the slag solidified and was mined for use as road gravel, aggregate, and other uses. Bethlehem Steel designed and built its own cinder pots, as indicated in this blueprint used in Open Hearth #4.
5. Almost everything in a steel mill was heavy. This bridle sling would have been suspended from an overhead crane and used to lift any variety of parts and assemblies. It is surrounded by spare hooks, gear and drive wheel units for overhead cranes, and one of four piles of ornamental iron fencing that once protected the Bethlehem plant.
Be sure to visit and support the museum: they are the custodians of national treasures that deserve protection and celebration, and just a stone’s throw from New York, Philadelphia, and Washington DC.