Project Update – Sept. 2021

on September 14, 2021 Behind the Scenes, Bethlehem Steel Legacy Project, Exhibits, Exhibits, Updates and Tags: , , , , , , , with 0 comments
Parts of an exhibition taking shape: a mannequin wearing a fire-resistant silver coat and hard had, a ladder, work helmets, and other signage

By Anita Kassof, Beth Maloney, and Auni Gelles Fall 2021 marks three years since the Baltimore Museum of Industry began our Bethlehem Steel Legacy Project, a multiyear project to document and tell the story of the Bethlehem Steel mill at Sparrows Point—once the largest steel plant in the world. We’re sharing a behind-the-scenes update on […]

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Memories of a “Looper”: Bob Casey, Combustion Engineer

on September 9, 2021 Behind the Scenes, Stories, Updates and Tags: , , , , , with 0 comments
A black and white photo shows a group of young engineers wearing slacks and button-up shirts, standing on steps Bethlehem Steel’s 1968 “Loop” class. Bob Casey is in the front row, fourth from the left.

Compiled by Deb Weiner Bob Casey had a career in steelmaking before leaving Sparrows Point to become a museum curator. Starting with a stint as an intern here at the BMI, he eventually retired as Curator of Transportation at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, MI. Recently he donated four items from his time at […]

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Woman of Steel: Bettye Ridgley

on August 16, 2021 Bethlehem Steel, Bethlehem Steel Legacy Project, In the Community, Stories, Women of Steel and Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , with 0 comments
Color photo of Black woman in a blue jacket and a baseball cap. Bettye Ridgley at an SEIU protest in the 1990s.

By Clair Volkening Getting her start Bettye Ridgley began her journey at Sparrows Point in 1978 as a mechanical helper in the hot strip mill. “We were what you called ‘go-fors’. You know, we’d go for the tools, go for the coffee.” Four or five months later, Bettye was laid off from the mechanical unit. […]

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Accidents at The Point: 1990 Explosion

on August 9, 2021 Bethlehem Steel, Bethlehem Steel Legacy Project, Contemporary Work Issues, In the Community, Industrial Heritage, Stories and Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , with 0 comments
Black and white photo of blast furnace L, a triangular shaped blast furnace. Blast furnace “L”, or “Big L”, in 1978 after it was finished and ready for work.

By Clair Volkening The Explosion In a previous post, I recounted the story of an explosion at Sparrows Point in 1891 which killed four steelworkers. That explosion was one of countless accidents over the mill’s history that injured or killed steelworkers. Now, we move one-hundred years into the future, to 1990, to tell the story […]

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Family of Steel: The Strasbaughs

on July 30, 2021 Bethlehem Steel, Bethlehem Steel Legacy Project, Stories and Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , with 0 comments
Black and white photograph from the 1800s showing steelworker with lunch pail The first John Benjamin Strasbaugh pictured with his lunch pail.

Editor’s Note: Three generations of the Strasbaugh family worked in the steel mill at Sparrows Point. Gloria Strasbaugh, the wife of the third John Strasbaugh, answered some questions about her family in an email interview. In the edited excerpts* below, she recalls her family’s history and their involvement with the steel mill. Who were the […]

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Accidents At the Point: 1891 Explosion

on July 15, 2021 Bethlehem Steel, Bethlehem Steel Legacy Project, Industrial Heritage, Stories and Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , with 0 comments
A black and white photo of blast furnace "B" from 1890 “Blast Furnace ‘B’ ready for Operation.” The first blast furnace at the Point was constructed in 1890.

By Clair Volkening On Sunday, December 8, 1891, four men were killed and five suffered injuries after an explosion in blast furnace B at Sparrows Point. The night before the explosion, workers had begun “blowing out,” or shutting down, the furnace so that repairs could be made to the firebrick walls and the furnace pipes […]

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SECNAV visits Sparrow Point Shipyard

on May 6, 2021 Behind the Scenes, Bethlehem Steel Legacy Project, Industrial Heritage, Stories and Tags: , , , , , , , with 0 comments
A black and white photo from 1982 shows a woman meeting with two shipyard workers on an exterior staircase Congresswoman Beverly Byron engages in conversation with shipyard workers.

by Ken Jones In the early 1980s the U.S. shipbuilding industry was in a slump. Construction of new merchant ships was steadily declining. According to the American Council on Shipbuilding, in 1975 the industry produced 75 commercial ships, in 1979 it produced 22, and by 1985 it produced only five—a staggering 75% decrease in production […]

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“The Millwright’s Poison Pillow”

on April 21, 2021 Bethlehem Steel Legacy Project, Industrial Heritage, Stories and Tags: , , , , with 0 comments
A black and white photograph shows a young woman sitting on a bar counter next to a young man in a suit. Mildred and Mario Clementoni on their honeymoon. Photo courtesy of Donna Clementoni.

By Donna Clementoni Editor’s Note: Donna Clementoni composed this poem about her father-in-law, Mario Clementoni, Sr. Known as “Motts” in his family, he began working at Bethlehem Steel after World War II and spent his entire career at Sparrows Point. He will turn 95 in June 2021. Near the end of the Patapsco River, around […]

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Views of Sparrows Point: Andrew Morton

on February 25, 2021 Bethlehem Steel Legacy Project, Stories and Tags: , , , , , , with 0 comments
An aerial view of a computer-generated rendering of the Sparrows Point mill A VR rendering of the Sparrows Point mill by Andrew Morton

Andrew Morton began working at Sparrows Point in 1970 in the labor gang. A self-described “little skinny kid” who debated quitting after his first few days on the job, he spent more than 40 years at Bethlehem Steel. Morton worked in the blast furnace, the coke ovens and the 68 Hot Strip Mill. At the […]

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Views of Sparrows Point: Gordon Davis

on February 16, 2021 Bethlehem Steel Legacy Project, Oral history, Stories and Tags: , , , , , , with 0 comments
A color photograph shows a man seated on the roof of a large industrial building wearing work clothes. Gordon Davis on top of deck of #11 battery in a photo taken by his friend, “Wild Bill.” He’s wearing clothing designed to keep heat off: insulated socks, thermal long underwear, blue jeans, flannel shirt, hooded sweat jacket, yellow canvas pants and jacket, steel toe boots with one-inch wood clogs, hard hat, face shield, glasses, respirator, and mittens/gloves.

Gordon Davis worked in many different positions during his almost 40 years at Sparrows Point. He began his career in the coke ovens two weeks out of high school, in 1974. A Baltimore native and second-generation steelworker, Davis shared these photographs ranging from the 1950s (taken by his father) through the late 1980s. Click on […]

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