Eventually, the organization was completed, the site moved elsewhere in South Bethlehem, and the company's name was changed to the Bethlehem Rolling Mill and Iron Company. The first rolling mill was built between the spring of and the summer of , with the first railroad rails being rolled on September A machine shop, in , and another blast furnace, in , were completed. During its early years, the company produced rails for the rapidly expanding railroads and armor plating for the US Navy.
Growth Draft of a Tract of Land in the Township of Saucon and Borough of South Bethlehem and County of Northampton containing Eleven Acres and fifty-two perches Although the company continued to prosper during the early s, its share of the rail market began to decline in the face of competition from growing Pittsburgh and Scranton -based firms such as the Carnegie Steel Company and Lackawanna Steel.
The nation's decision to rebuild the United States Navy with steam-driven, steel-hulled warships reshaped Bethlehem Iron Company's destiny. Following the American Civil War , the Navy quickly downsized after the end of hostilities, as national energies were redirected toward settling the West and rebuilding the war-ravaged South. Almost no new ordnance was produced, and new technology was neglected.
By , international incidents highlighted the poor condition of the U. In , Secretary of the Navy William E. William Jaques to the Gun Foundry Board. Jaques was sent on several fact-finding tours of European armament makers and on one of these trips he formed business ties with the firm of Joseph Whitworth of Manchester, England. He returned to America as Whitworth's agent and, in , was granted an extended furlough to pursue this personal interest.
Jaques was aware that the U. Navy would soon solicit bids for the production of heavy guns and other products such as armor that would be needed to further expand the fleet. Jaques contacted the Bethlehem Iron Company with a proposal to serve as an intermediary between it and the Whitworth Company, so that Bethlehem could erect a heavy-forging plant to produce ordnance. In early , a contract between Bethlehem Iron and the Whitworth Company had been executed.
In spring , Congress passed a naval appropriations bill that authorized the construction of two armored second-class battleships, one protected cruiser, and one first-class torpedo boat, and the complete rebuilding and modernization of two Civil War-era monitors. Bethlehem secured both the forging and armor contracts on June 28, Between and , the Bethlehem Iron Company completed the first U. It was designed by John Fritz with the assistance of Russell Wheeler Davenport, who had entered Bethlehem's employ in By autumn , Bethlehem Iron was delivering gun forging to the U.
Navy and was completing facilities to provide armor plating. Rau During the Chicago World's Fair , a structure that was designed to make the world marvel received its giant axle from Bethlehem Iron.
The iron made in Bethlehem Steel's blast furnaces was responsible for the world's largest single piece of cast iron that had ever been made up to that time. Taylor and Maunsel White, with a team of assistants, applied a series of management principles established by Taylor and that later would be known as scientific management to increase mass production.
The Bethlehem Iron Company was very successful and profitable. The corporate ownership of the Bethlehem Iron Company believed that it can be even more profitable. To accomplish that goal, the corporate ownership of the Bethlehem Iron Company switched to steel production- the steel production became known as a new company called Bethlehem Steel Company.
The Bethlehem Steel Company leased the properties that were owned by the Bethlehem Iron Company, even though both companies had the same ownership. In , Charles M. Schwab , who is unrelated to the stockbroker Charles R.
Schwab using a syndicate from J. Steel , the company he was president of. However, the United States Shipbuilding Company was not reorganized as the Bethlehem Steel and Shipbuilding Company and instead a new plan was drawn up for a new company to be formed to replace the United States Shipbuilding Company. This new company would take the "Bethlehem Steel and Shipbuilding Company" name. The new plan would be executed in , but the new company did not take the "Bethlehem Steel and Shipbuilding Company" name afterall.
July In , the Bethlehem Steel Corporation was formed, this is the new company replacing the United States Shipbuilding Company ; the new company did not use the name "Bethlehem Steel and Shipbuilding Company". Schwab became the first president and first chairman of its board of directors of the Bethlehem Steel Corporation.
The Bethlehem Steel Corporation became the second largest steel provider in the United States with the help of the subsidiary Bethlehem Steel Company which was the first Bethlehem Steel.
The Bethlehem Steel Corporation installed the gray rolling mill and producing the first wide-flange structural shapes to be made in America. These shapes were partly responsible for ushering in the age of the skyscraper and establishing Bethlehem Steel as the leading supplier of steel to the construction industry.
In , it acquired the Fore River Shipbuilding Company of Quincy, Massachusetts , thereby assuming the role of one of the world's major shipbuilders. In , it incorporated its shipbuilding division as Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corporation , Limited. In , it purchased the Lackawanna Steel Company , which included the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad as well as extensive coal holdings.
During World War II, as much as 70 percent of airplane cylinder forgings, one-quarter of the armor plate for warships, and one-third of the big cannon forgings for the U. S armed forces were turned out by Bethlehem Steel. It employed as many as , persons, the bulk of the company's total employment of , Eugene Grace was president of Bethlehem Steel from to , and chairman of the board from until his retirement in Eugene Grace orchestrated Bethlehem Steel's wartime efforts.
In , he promised President Roosevelt one ship per day, and exceeded the commitment by 15 ships. The company hired female employees to guard and work on the factory floor or in the company offices. After the war, the female workers were promptly fired in favor of their male counterparts. Workers were not aware of the dangers of the heavy metals they were rolling and were not given protective equipment. Some workers have since attempted to receive compensation under a year radiation-exposure law.
The Bethlehem Steel workers have not been awarded this compensation because the radiation dose involved in processing fresh uranium fuel is low, and produces a small risk relative to the baseline risk.
Bethlehem Steel's high point came in the s, as the company began manufacturing 23 million tons per year. In , the company's president, Arthur B. Homer, was the highest-paid U. The firm built its largest plant, at Burns Harbor, Indiana , between and The late s offered a harbinger of the troubled times to come. In , the company lost its bid to provide the steel for the original World Trade Center.
The contracts, a single one of which was for 50, tons of steel, went to competitors in Seattle, St. Louis, New York and Illinois. But eventually, the foreign firms were rebuilt with modern techniques such as continuous casting , while profitable U. Bethlehem experimented with continuous casting but never fully adopted the practice.
Meanwhile, the average age of the Bethlehem workforce was increasing, and the ratio of retirees to workers was rising, meaning that the value created by each worker had to cover a greater portion of pension costs than before. Former top manager Eugene Grace had failed to adequately invest in the company's pension plans during the s.
When the company was at its peak, the pension payments that should have been made were not. As a result, the company encountered difficulty when it faced rising pension costs and diminishing profits. Profitability returned briefly in , but restructuring and shutdowns continued through the s.
Lighter construction styles, in part due to lower-height construction styles i. Bethlehem Steel exited the railroad car business in At the end of , it closed steel-making at the main Bethlehem plant. After roughly years of metal production at its Bethlehem, Pennsylvania plant, Bethlehem Steel Corporation ceased its Bethlehem operations.
The Bethlehem Steel Corporation ceased shipbuilding activities in in an attempt to preserve its steel-making operations. The Bethlehem Steel Corporation would file for bankruptcy in and dissolve in Closing and bankruptcy The site of the former Bethlehem Steel plant, which is now the SteelStacks campus, next to the Sands Casino Despite the closing of its local operations, the Bethlehem Steel Corporation tried to reduce the impact on the Lehigh Valley area with plans to revitalize the south side of Bethlehem.
It hired consultants to develop conceptual plans on the reuse of the massive property. Inexpensive steel imports and the failure of management to innovate, embrace technology, and improve labor conditions contributed to Bethlehem's demise. In , after denied pension benefits, a lawsuit was filed in the 3rd Court of Appeals in Philadelphia.
It led to a class action lawsuit filed by the workers union soon after. Since the Bethlehem Steel Corporation was dissolved instead of being merged into International Steel Group, the former company is not part of the former International Steel Group heritage, the former Mittal Steel's heritage and the current ArcelorMittal's heritage. Construction began in fall ; the casino was completed in The casino had difficulty finding structural steel for construction due to a global steel shortage and pressure to build Pennsylvania's tax-generating casinos.
The plant's five blast furnaces were left standing and serve as a backdrop for the new campus. In , Bethlehem Steel , a three-piece indie rock band, named itself after the company to honor it. Bethlehem Steel Complex caught fire and burned down on November 9th.
Eventually, the organization was completed, the site moved elsewhere in South Bethlehem, and the company's name was changed to the Bethlehem Rolling Mill and Iron Company. The first rolling mill was built between the spring of and the summer of , with the first railroad rails being rolled on September
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