‘Last Cast 25’ to Feature Photo Displays, Free Steelworker Lunches, Free Museum Admission, and More
BETHLEHEM, Pa – On November 18, 1995, the iconic blast furnaces and the basic oxygen furnace at Bethlehem Steel’s South Bethlehem plant produced their last iron and steel and fell forever silent. Now, 25 years later, the Bethlehem community is coming together to commemorate and relive the final hours of steelmaking.
Last Cast 25 will take place at the National Museum of Industrial History (NMIH) on Saturday, November 14th. A collaboration between PBS39, Bethlehem Area Public Library, Artsquest, Steelworkers Archives, Historic Bethlehem Museums & Sites, Wind Creek Bethlehem, and NMIH, the event will feature guest speakers, never-before seen photos of the last cast, limited edition merchandise, free lunches for former Bethlehem Steel employees, and free admission to the museum from 10am to 1pm.
“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 everyone from former steelworkers to families to mask up, socially distance, and join us for a day full of history.”
Former steelworkers can sign up for a free ‘overtime lunch’ at nmih.org/lunch. The menu consists of items that came in lunches given to employees who worked four hours extra on top of their eight-hour shifts. Provided by Bethlehem’s Deja Brew Coffeehouse & Deli, the brown-bag lunches will include a variety of sandwiches, chips, an A-Treat soda, a hard-boiled egg, an apple, and a Tastykake. Two hundred lunches are available by RSVP Only and are limited to one per person. Lunches will be distributed at approximately 12pm.
The day will begin at the Hoover Mason Trestle. Closed to the public since March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, organizers have arranged access for small groups to tour the trestle from 9am to 10am and get up-close-and-personal with the blast furnaces that made the last iron. Patrons will then reconvene at 11am at the museum’s plaza and socially distance themselves as guest speakers including Northampton County Executive Lamont McClure, NMIH President and CEO Kara Mohsinger, Bethlehem Steel Chairman Emeritus Curtis H. “Hank” Barnette, former research supervisor Trevor Shellhammer, and former blast furnace foreman Roger Malitzki Sr. deliver remarks.
Tom Baker, an amateur photographer who has captured images of the plant over several decades, was present during the last cast and will detail his experience via a video showcasing his imagery leading up to the final days of steelmaking at the plant. The museum will also be showing nearly 100 images recently uncovered in the Bethlehem Steel corporate archives of the final 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. From 10am to 1pm former steelworkers will be able to sign a beam recovered from the wreckage of Martin Tower which will later be placed outside of the South Bethlehem Visitors Center.
At 12:30pm families can join in a special story time in the museum’s plaza featuring “Tug,” a children’s book featuring one of the museum’s brightest artifacts. The book is a collaboration between NMIH and Bethlehem Area Public Library and will be available for purchase at the Last Cast event. Other limited-edition Last Cast 25 merchandise will be available in the museum’s gift shop. The Steelworkers Archives are offering a Last Cast poster for pre-sale. Interested parties can sign up to purchase one at NMIH prior to the Last Cast event.
The day will culminate with an iron pour at 2:30pm (weather permitting), where museum staff and volunteers will cast commemorative Last Cast 25 medallions. While the medallions will not be available for sale on-site on the 14th, guests may sign up to purchase medallions in the future.
The Steelworkers Archives will be offering walking tours on Saturday, November 14th and Sunday, November 15th at 9:30am, 11:30am, and 1:30pm. Tickets can be purchased at steelstacks.org. PBS39 will also broadcast the ‘Faces of Steel’ photo series on its outdoor video screen throughout the weekend.
All guests must wear a mask and social distance for indoor and outdoor activities. Guest speakers and most outdoor activities are rain or shine. A tent and heaters will be provided for comfort.
Last Cast 25 is generously sponsored by Hank and Joanne Barnette, Lehigh Valley Public Media, OneGroup, MMZ Foundation, Northampton County DCED, Lehigh Heavy Forge, Steelworkers Archives, and the National Museum of Industrial History.
Attached photo: The ‘last cast’ at Bethlehem Steel’s South Bethlehem plant on November 18, 1995. From the Bethlehem Steel Archival Collection at the National Museum of Industrial History.
A Smithsonian Institution-affiliate, the National Museum of Industrial History is dedicated to preserving America’s rich industrial heritage. Housed in an 18,000-square-foot, 100-year-old former Bethlehem Steel facility on the largest private brownfield in America, the Museum is home to exciting exhibits, engaging programs and amazing history. Learn more at nmih.org.
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National Museum of Industrial History