National Museum of Industrial History explores Bethlehem Steel’s Chilean operations in new online exhibit and virtual lecture
The National Museum of Industrial History is turning its focus from the massive blast furnaces steps away from its doors to South America, where Bethlehem Steel operated iron mines in Chile and throughout Latin America. A new online exhibit that traces the history of workers, townspeople, and the mines coincides with a virtual lecture, Digging Up Bethlehem Steel’s History In Latin America, set to take place on Saturday, January 23rd.
The online exhibit, viewable at chile.nmih.org, includes a Spanish translation and chronicles the Chilean mines that shipped iron ore through the Panama Canal to the plants in the United States. Chile’s ore, an essential part of Bethlehem Steel’s WWII production capacity, cemented ties between Latin American and the Lehigh Valley. Various engineers, geologists, and Bethlehem Steel executives worked on the Chilean mining projects, and many brought families and built lives in the mining towns or surrounding areas near La Serena, Chile. Through these connections Chileans also came to study, work and live in the Lehigh Valley in the 20th century.
The project is collaboration between the museum, Lafayette College Visiting Assistant Professor of International Affairs Cory Fischer-Hoffman, and Chilean historian Javier Rojas. It is sponsored in part by the Steelworkers Archives, the SouthSide Initiative, and the Lehigh Valley Engaged Humanities Consortium and supported by a grant to Lafayette College from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
The lecture, on January 23rd at 3pm EST, will feature a discussion with Dr. Fischer-Hoffman and Mr. Rojas as well as a Q&A session following the presentation. Registration is free, but participants are required to R.S.V.P. to receive a Zoom link at steelinchile.eventbrite.com.
Attached photo: An aerial view of Bethlehem Steel’s Chilean mining operations. 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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