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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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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Views of Sparrows Point: Early 20th Century

on February 10, 2021 Bethlehem Steel, Bethlehem Steel Legacy Project and Tags: , , , , , with 0 comments
A black & white photo shows a large group of shipyard workers, most of whom are white men, posing in front of a building with scaffolding. Sparrows Point shipyard workers in the mid-1920s. Courtesy of the Historical Society of Baltimore County.

The first post in our “Views of Sparrows Point” series highlighted an 1892 Maryland Steel Company photo album showing the earliest days of steelmaking at Sparrows Point. Today, we turn our attention to the Bethlehem Steel Company collection from Enoch Pratt Free Library and the Historical Society of Baltimore County. These photographs, ranging from approximately […]

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A Place of Honor in a Legacy Garden

on December 16, 2020 Bethlehem Steel, Bethlehem Steel Legacy Project, Stories and Tags: , , , , , , with 0 comments
This photo shows a row of bricks and a commemorative plaque that reads, "Bethlehem Steel Legacy Garden" Part of the Bethlehem Steel Legacy Garden, near the iconic WWII-era Whirley Crane on the BMI’s campus.

By Claire Mullins Like many men of his generation, Wendell Wesley Doyle proudly joined the military upon graduating from Sparrows Point High School in Dundalk, Maryland, and became a Navy turret gunner on the USS Saratoga during World War II.    When the war ended, he returned to Dundalk, married his sweetheart, and started a […]

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Women of Steel: Kathy Garrison

on November 24, 2020 Exhibits, Industrial Heritage, Oral history, Stories, Women of Steel and Tags: , , , , , with 0 comments
A black and white photo shows five women meeting to discuss union issues. Meeting of the Women of Steel, 2005. Left to right: Kathy Garrison, Deb Watnoski, Sharon Pritchard, Kathy Hamilton, Gail Fleming. Courtesy of Kathy Garrison.

Interview by Deb Weiner Kathy Garrison started working at Bethlehem Steel in 1976, not long after a consent decree required the company to stop discriminating against women and minorities. She chaired the Women of Steel group from 2004 to 2012, when the plant shut down. Here are edited excerpts from her recent interview with BSLP […]

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Sparrows Point Shipyard: 100 years of shipbuilding

on May 8, 2020 Behind the Scenes, Stories and Tags: , , , , , , , with 0 comments
This c. 1949 aerial photo illustrates the shipyard’s proximity to the steel plant.

By Ken Jones As mentioned in my previous posts on the Baltimore Yards and Fairfield Yard, I have been helping process and catalogue the BMI’s Bethlehem Steel collection. As I do my work, I find myself reading the materials or closely looking at the photos I am processing. I’ve become fascinated by this collection of […]

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