NMIH celebrates 5th anniversary with ribbon cutting of new outdoor community space

BETHLEHEM, Pa. – The National Museum of Industrial History celebrated its 5th anniversary this week by debuting a new outdoor community space named Foundry Park. The 17,000-square-foot park nearly doubles the museum’s available space to educate the public about the country’s industrial past. Part of an approximately $350,000 project, the exhibit space includes a new area where visitors can see working machines and follow in the footsteps of generations of workers and inventors. Utilizing actual industrial machinery from Bethlehem Steel and beyond, the park shows the process of transforming raw materials into finished products and highlights innovations in industry.

In a speech delivered at yesterday’s ribbon cutting, Kara Mohsinger, President and CEO of NMIH, said, “We all came together as a team, as a community, to build Foundry Park as a living history for future generations.” Other speakers and dignitaries included L. Charles Marcon, Chairman of the Board of NMIH, U.S. Congresswoman Susan Wild, P.A. Representative Steve Samuelson, P.A. Senator Lisa Boscola, Northampton County Executive Lamont McClure, Bethlehem Mayor Robert Donchez, and Ellen Kern on behalf of Senator Pat Browne.

The park’s massive artifacts will wow visitors, including a number of original Bethlehem Steel machines. A towering hydraulic bending press, the first built in the United States, was relocated in a feat of engineering from the nearby Wind Creek Casino last September. An electric arc furnace, miniature basic oxygen furnace, 10-ton ladle, and a rare ingot mold, all donated by Lehigh University, were once used at Bethlehem Steel’s Homer Research Labs, the current home of Lehigh’s Mountaintop Campus. Visitors can take the controls of a real Bethlehem Steel locomotive in an all new engineer experience. This add-on experience allows patrons to climb inside a 1941 Whitcomb diesel-electric narrow-gauge locomotive original to the plant that has been restored to working condition.

Two furnaces on display are the only public examples in the northeast United States and are situated with the locomotive and charging machine to approximate how a typical steel mill melt shop operated. These artifacts and planned demonstrations of their uses will help tell the overall story of how raw materials are transformed into steel. Live interactive demos will include forging using a steam hammer, iron smelting, casting, and slate splitting.

Ground broke for the park in August 2020. It includes the Steelworkers Veterans Memorial, a monument relocated from its original spot at the Bethlehem Steel plant gate. Originally dedicated in 1989, it was moved last September and rededicated in a ceremony on Veteran’s Day.

Foundry Park is also home to the Air Products Pavilion, part of a $100,000 grant from the Air Products Foundation announced this June. Designed by Alloy5 and project managed by Alvin H. Butz, Inc. , the 15’ x 30’ covered multi-use Air Products Pavilion will serve as a space for industrial demonstrations, youth educational programs, live performances and community gatherings. A dedication ceremony is planned for later this year.

The park dedication puts a capstone on the museum’s 5th year. Since opening its doors to the public in August 2016, the museum has drawn over 50,000 visitors from all 50 states and countries across the globe.

Funding for Foundry Park was provided from sources including the Air Products Foundation, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Northampton County Hotel Tax and CIPP grant programs, the PA DCED Greenways, Trails & Recreation Grant Program, and the City of Bethlehem.

In-kind services and materials from rail to landscaping were provided by numerous local companies including but not limited to A & A Machinery, Alvin H. Butz, Inc., Bean Inc. Contractors, Cantelmi Hardware, Complete Property Services, LLC., CPS Rail Services, Deiter Bros., East Penn Manufacturing, Home Depot, Kaplan Awnings, Lehigh Heavy Forge, Lehigh Valley Rail Management, R.E. Daumer Trucking, Wind Creek Bethlehem, and Working Dog Press. The construction project was managed by Alvin H. Butz and over a dozen local sub-contractors.

NOTE: Higher resolution photos can be obtained by clicking on each individual photo. For use, please credit to ‘Glenn Koehler/NMIH’. For full resolution photos and captions please email use the media contact information at nmih.org/media.

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