Sunday, August 30, 2015


Access to the five extant blast furnaces at Bethlehem Steel have been gradually been getting better over the years.  When I started modeling A-Furnace, the closest I could get was a limited side view from around 200 yards away, and that usually involved getting chased away from a security guard (despite technically standing on a public sidewalk).    But that was even a considered improvement over the 1980s when I bush-wacked through a wooded hillside and crossed a frozen canal just to get some photos from across the river of blast furnace row.  The plant was still operational then and any views from the opposite side were impossibly blocked by many other mill buildings.   My only regret later was that I hadn't walked down the bank further to photograph A furnace - most of my shots were of C and D furnaces, the two operating at the time.    I also went on a tour of Bethlehem in the 80s but photography was verboten.  When the Steel Stacks complex opened things got much better, with great views of A-C furnace, although D and E were still partially blocked by the blowing engine house.   About a month ago, the Hoover-Mason high-line stock trestle was opened as a walking path.
Entrance to Hoover-Mason trestle - stairs or elevator.  I should have realized from scratch building the trestle but was surprised at how high above ground level it was.   Even with this height, the tunnel under for the scale car is even lower than the level I'm standing while taking the photo.
The walking path on the trestle extends from A furnace through E furnace with outstanding views of all five blast furnace complexes.  Additionally they built an cantilevered viewing platform that offers a view of the blowing engine house that you could only probably have gotten from a crane inside the building.  The walkway is incredibly well done when we visited this weekend.    Between Sloss a few weeks ago and now the Hoover-Mason, August has been a stellar month for steel mill touring for me.

View from walkway looking west.  A-Furnace skip hoist is visible in center of photo, along with three pass stoves and the dust catcher (of A-furance).  To the right are the stoves of B-Furnace.   On the left you can see the #2 wide gauge materials transfer car and the dual gauge trackage over the bins.   They did a great job snaking the walkway back and forth to mix up views and also strategically placed dead end extensions here and there to get in closer or just to linger without blocking the main path.  

Blowing engine house - half of an end wall of this building has been (for awhile) removed, however, with a platform extended from the walkway the view is, well,......

Transfer car line-up - behind the blowing engine house there are an additional 5 transfer cars parked -  #3, 5, and 6   plus D and F.  D and F, with are of a different design, were I believed used specifically in the ore yard for moving materials between the yard and sinter plant so never really made it up this far on the Hoover-Mason, but who knows, and they were filled with taconite pellets.    At Bethlehem there were only two stock tracks, the dual gauge ore and stone track  on the outside and the standard gauge coke track on the inside (under where I'm standing taking this photo)    The ore tracks were primarily served by the wide gauge transfer cars powered by overhead wire (note poles) , although diesel engines and standard hoppers could have been used also.  The coke track was strictly standard gauge diesels and hoppers.   

E furnace cast house on right, E and D furnaces beyond.   These two furnaces were closer together than the others as the E furnace stock house was oriented along the high-line with its stoves perpendicular to the high-line.  The other four furnaces had cast houses that extended toward the river with the stoves along the high-line.  

End of the walkway - massive #2 machine shop on right.  Hoover Mason extends toward the tall building, which is the Sands Hotel, where it has been removed beyond.   Notice there is a short dead-end siding on left and a standard gauge crossover just beyond the small structure.    The stock bins I am standing over while taking this photo are disconnected from the bins for A-E furnace.  I forget but there may have been an additional furnace at one time for which these bins were used.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Those bins were for F and G furnace that were four post design and taken down sometime in the 1960's. Also that third track served the boiler house that stood between the trestle and pig caster.