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10.05.2015

Bethlehem Steel Blast Furnaces: Hoover-Mason Trestle

Today we climb up the Hoover-Mason Trestle at the old main Bethlehem Steel plant in Bethlehem, PA. All of these photos were taken by Brit. The trestle is where the old rail cars would carry different loads such as coke and iron ore to the towering blast furnaces that men and women poured their sweat, blood, tears, and even lives, into fabricating the steel that built the majority of the New York Skyline, the Golden Gate Bridge, protected us during World War II, and so much more.

This stairway carries you up to the 46 foot level of the old trestle to see these spectacular relics of a time gone by. This combination of a museum and public park is beautiful and oddly serene. The blast furnaces exceed 200 feet tall and the five remaining furnaces lie on a plot of land that is over 1100 feet long. These hulking machines are absolutely stunning. They last operated in 1995 and look seemingly untouched since that point. Great pains appear to have been taken to leave the remnants as they are, seemingly frozen in time.
 There is an elevator as well, making this pathway fully accessible.
 Here you can see the large lift system for the "A" furnace.
 This is one of the most awesome things that I have ever seen at night. 
On the left you can see one of the hopper car trains. These vehicles carried iron ore, coke, and limestone to the blast furnaces. Once they arrived at the correct hopper, the workers would open the bottom of the train cars and dump the materials into the appropriate hopper for use in the steel production process. This was an extremely dangerous job that many people either lost their lives or were seriously injured in the midst of doing.
 Here is what the operator cabin of the rail cars looks like. You can see how nature has started to reclaim the vehicles. For anyone in the know with these cars, what were those old air tanks used for?
 These cars were electrified and worked like trolleys.
Here you can see where the hopper dropped into the next hopper upon delivery.
 Here is the next rail car
 The walkway on the trestle is made up of grates, so you can see what is directly underneath you. Different features are illuminated to show how the steel making process worked.
 The blast furnaces are pretty spectacular.
An illuminated hopper along with Brit's feet
 There are immense pipelines throughout for the massive amount of water that was used in the operation
 On to the next blast furnace
 Some sort of a control room with different valves and releases
 Spider time!

 Imagine having to be the repair person walking along the top of that pipe.
 Stairway to the top! Not open, but that sure seems like a climb
 Giant hopper!
 This is where the trains would dump their payloads. Notice the short gauge rail track.
 Another view. Doesn't it almost look like a face?
 I can only imagine what all of this looked like when it was in operation.
A view of the walkway and the machine shop is behind that, once the largest in the world. I would like to see some lighting in the old machine shop at some point, for it is pretty spectacular as well.
 Another giant hopper abyss
 Old telegraph equipment on the side of the machine shop
 There are dozens of these giant hoppers along the trestle. This one is seeing new life in the form of vegetation.
 Everything at this place is on an enormous scale
 It is pretty fascinating to see how all of the rail cars were pretty different. You can also see the various improvements and modernization projects they did on these throughout the years.

 I think that it is pretty safe to assume that this was car number 5. If you are looking for a preview of what the world might look like after an apocalypse, this is certainly pretty awesome place to go.
 Some spare iron ore scattered from the bottom of one of the trains.
 Car 6
This is what would have been the walkway along the railway. You can see different names welded into the plated steel. The names of workers that died in some of the many accidents at the plant, other employees that spent as long as 30 or 40 years at the plant, and the names of some of the people that built the trestle back in 1905 are included on the steel plates.
 The name "Bonser" seems to be from a family of people that worked at the plant for many years. 
 This is truly a stunning place. For those of you into ghost hunting, I have heard that this is a place that people often find paranormal activity. I am not someone who sees that kind of thing, but for those of you that do, this is definitely a place to check out.
 The view in the darkened machine shop. I would like to see some more lighting in this building at some point.

The end result? The newly opened Hoover-Mason Trestle in Bethlehem is a world class attraction and one of the coolest things that I have ever seen at night. The lighting is exceptional. The execution of where the walkways were put on the trestle, even to the point of building around a tree that had grown through the trestle, is nothing short of spectacular. The trestle is an excellent monument to the many people that poured their hearts, souls, and even lives, into the growth and advancement of society. This, coupled with the rest of the SteelStacks complex, makes for an excellent cultural and recreation center. Where so many parts of our industrial heritage were torn down for big box store expansion, Bethlehem has managed to turn its iconic blast furnaces into a world class attraction, showcasing our heritage while providing a gathering place for the arts. 
The Trestle is open daily and admission is free. The Levitt Pavilion at SteelStacks is an excellent entertainment venue located at the base of the blast furnaces. The location provides a dynamic backdrop that is also shared by the ArtsQuest center, a modern facility that houses concerts, a movie theater, art exhibitions, and public events.



















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