Local history buffs can relive the final moments of Bethlehem Steel’s iconic history at this weekend’s Last Cast 25 event.
The National Museum of Industrial History (NMIH) in Bethlehem is hosting the event on Saturday, Nov. 14 to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the world-renowned steel plant’s final hours of steelmaking.
Guest speakers, never-before seen photos of the last cast and limited edition merchandise will be available at the event thanks to a collaboration between PBS39, Bethlehem Area Public Library, ArtsQuest, Steelworkers Archives, Historic Bethlehem Museums and Sites and Wind Creek Bethlehem.
“This event is the culmination of many months of hard work with our partners, and we’re so excited that despite all of the challenges 2020 has brought to all of our organizations, that we’re able to still find a way to remember this important chapter in the nation’s industrial history,” said Kara Mohsinger, President and CEO of NMIH. “We’ve put together a day of activities that can be enjoyed by guests of all ages, and we encourage everybody from former steelworkers to families to mask up, socially distance and join us for a day full of history.”
The busy day of history will begin at 9 a.m. at the Hoover-Mason Trestle, an elevated walkway where organizers have made special arrangements for small group tours, despite the site being closed due to COVID. From the trestle, guests can get up-close-and-personal with the giant blast furnaces that made the last iron.
NMIH will also be open free of charge for guests to explore from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. The 18,000 square-foot former Bethlehem Steel facility is packed with exciting exhibits, engaging programs and amazing history.
Former steelworkers will also be able to enjoy one last “overtime lunch” free of charge. The menu will consist of food items that came in lunches given to employees who had worked four extra hours on top of their eight-hour shifts.
The meals will be provided by Bethlehem’s Deja Brew Coffeehouse and Deli. Two hundred lunches will be available by RSVP only. Former Bethlehem Steel employees can sign up for their lunch on the NMIH website.
A beam recovered from the wreckage of Martin Tower will also be available for former steelworkers to sign before it is placed outside the South Bethlehem Visitors Center.
Guest speakers at the event will include Northampton County Executive Lamont McClure, Mohsinger, Bethlehem Steel Chairman Emeritus Curtis H. “Hank” Barnette, former research supervisor Trevor Shellhammer and former blast furnace foreman Roger Malitzki Sr.
The event will also feature a variety of rarely seen pictures of the steel plant from throughout the decades it operated.
Amateur photographer Tom Baker will present a video showcasing pictures he took during the final days of steelmaking in Bethlehem. The museum will display a selection of nearly 100 recently uncovered images archiving the last hours in the blast furnace and basic oxygen furnace.
Screens inside and outside the museum will rotate photos from the Banana Factory’s “Faces of Steel” series, images from former Bethlehem Steel employee Ed Leskin and amateur and professional footage shot in the blast furnaces during their last years of operation.
With the holidays around the corner, a collection of limited-edition merchandise will be available for purchase at the event. The Steelworkers Archives will be offering a Last Cast poster for pre-sale. “Tug,” a children’s book on which NMIH and the Bethlehem Area Public Library collaborated, will also be available for sale, in addition to other rare finds in the museum’s gift shop.
The day will culminate with an iron pour at 2:30 p.m. (weather permitting), where museum staff and volunteers will cast commemorative Last Cast 25 medallions. Guests may sign up to purchase the medallions, which will go on sale in the future.
Guests are required to wear masks and social distance at the event. Last Cast 25 is a rain or shine event, however a tent and heaters will be provided for comfort.
For more information about this weekend’s event, visit the NMIH website.
Those who are unable to attend Saturday’s event can also purchase tickets for walking tours provided by the Steelworkers Archives. Tours are offered this Saturday and Sunday at 9:30 and 11:30 a.m., and 1:30 p.m.