Digging Up Bethlehem Steel’s History In Latin America


A Virtual presentation from the National Museum of Industrial History

JANUARY 23 @ 3:00 PM – 4:30 PM

While the rise and fall of Bethlehem Steel is well-documented, the Corporation’s global impact particularly from places where they sourced raw materials is less well-known. From 1913 until 1971, the Bethlehem Steel Corporation operated iron mines in Chile, shipping ore to the US through the Panama Canal. Chilean iron ore was essential to Bethlehem Steel’s World War II production, cementing the ties between Latin America and the Lehigh Valley.

While the histories of Mexican and Puerto Rican workers illustrate Bethlehem Steel’s labor linkages, this talk provides a new perspective on the Lehigh Valley’s long-standing relationship with Latin America by illuminating Bethlehem Steel’s mining operations in Chile. 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.

This virtual talk explores the history of Bethlehem Steel’s iron mining operations in Chile, the transnational flows of raw materials and people and Bethlehem Steel’s legacy in Latin America.

The goal of this project is to research the history of Bethlehem Steel’s iron ore mining operations in Latin America, with a plan to present findings in academic journals, museum exhibits, public lectures, and/or documentaries. Some of the core questions that guide this project are: What role did iron ore extracted from Latin America play in Bethlehem Steel’s production processes? And, how did the Bethlehem Steel Corporation (& its subsidiaries) impact the regions where they had mining operations?

If you have memories, photos, documents, or contacts that you are interested in sharing with the project, we would love to hear from you. Please visit https://forms.gle/ch6q41eMfbQjksm68 with whatever information you are able to share, and we will be in touch.




The Neon Museum of Philadelphia has found a permanent home

After decades of work, a sign designer’s dream is finally coming true.


Museum founder Len Davidson shows off his crab: MICHAELA WINBERG / BILLY PENN

The article outlines the long career of Philadelphia Len Davidson whose interests led him to collect and create neon signs.

Friday, January 15th the will be a virtual opening of the museum from 7-8:30. This link takes you to further information on the event and a link to join the zoom meeting.



Edward Francis Grusheski

Ed Grusheski, president of the Oliver Evans chapter since 1996, died December 23, 2020.  Ed contributed to so many programs and institutions in the city yet he always had time for our Oliver Evans Chapter. He led the chapter with grace and spirit despite several major health setbacks in recent years. He was a gallant, brave gentleman. We will be diminished without benefit of his caring,  generous heart.
There is no information yet on memorial services in his name. Family and friends are making arrangements and will share that information with us. Here is an obituary they have provided. 

Edward Francis Grusheski

On December 23, 2020, Edward Francis Grusheski of Philadelphia, passed away at the age of 74. Ed was born in Boston, the son of Marian Grusheski. Ed graduated from Boston Latin School, Georgetown University and earned a master’s degree in American Civilization at the University of Pennsylvania. He also was stationed in Asia while serving in the US Army as a voice intercept operator.

Ed’s most proud accomplishment was leading the development of the historic Fairmount Water Works into the region’s premier urban environmental education destination, dedicated to fostering shared stewardship of our shared water resources. Ed continued his relationship with the Fairmount Water Works through the rest of his life when he became a consultant, educator, and speaker, giving voice to environmental issues.

Ed exuded enormous optimism and enthusiasm throughout life as a constant learner, world traveler and art collector. He was active in and a contributor to countless programs and institutions in Philadelphia including serving on the boards of the Global Water Alliance, the Fund for the Water Works, and as the president of the local chapter of the Society for Industrial Archeology.

He leaves behind many loved cousins and cherished friends. Ed was a joyful and generous gentleman who enjoyed a life well lived.

In lieu of flowers donations may be made in honor of Ed to either:
Old Saint Joseph’s
321 Willings Alley
Philadelphia, PA 19106
Fairmount Water Works Interpretive Center
640 Waterworks Dr.
Philadelphia, PA 19130

Another obituary was written by his associates at the Global Water Alliance where Ed was a Founding Board Member.

Ed is now under the care of Cremation Society of Pennsylvania, Inc. at King of Prussia. The Society web page has a link to share a memory of Ed.

Finally, here is a link to an article by Ed on his beloved Fairmount Waterworks written in 2004 and posted on Watershapes, a website on our water environment and its structures.

Society for Industrial Archeology, IA Online


Join the SIA for the sixth session of IA Online Wednesday, December 16 at 2 p.m. Eastern (US & Canada):

Francisco Montoya Mar and Angélica María Medrano Enríquez – “La Esperanza candy and chocolate factory. Zacatecas, Mexico”

Kevin Coffee – “Industrial Lowell and the dawn of the Anthropocene”

Francisco Montoya Mar’s presentation is based on his book Arqueología en la fábrica de dulces La Esperanza (Archeology at the La Esperanza candy factory).

Join us on Zoom:


Talks are roughly 10-15 minutes each, with 5 minutes of Q&A for each presenter. The end of the session is reserved for additional questions and discussion.

Yours in IA,



If you haven’t used Zoom before, don’t worry. You’ll be prompted to download the software or join via your web browser when you follow the link above. The host will provide a brief orientation to Zoom at the beginning of the session

Also note the sessions will be recorded so they can be viewed at a later date.

The Falls Bridge Over the Schuylkill


“The Falls Bridge: History and Structure”

by preservation engineer JUSTIN SPIVEY, PE, APT RP
Wednesday, December 9, 2020;  7:00 PM

The 1895 Falls Bridge over the Schuylkill River, which connects the river drives, is much beloved by admirers of bridges everywhere. It will soon undergo major renovation. Justin Spivey is a preservation engineer with special expertise and interest in the Schuylkill River bridges. Please join us via Zoom to hear him speak about this iconic structure, and find out what makes is a Pratt through truss design, and more.

Access to the program will be made available through a link on the  EFHS website:  eastfallshistoricalsociety.org. It will be posted the day before the talk on December 8th.  The program is free.


Allegheny Portage Railroad

Join the Roebling Museum for a virtual lecture about the first place John A. Roebling tested his wire rope, the Allegheny Portage Railroad!

Thu, November 19, 2020
1:00 PM – 2:00 PM EST

Be virtually transported to another important Roebling historic site!

The Allegheny Portage Railroad was the first railroad to circumvent the Allegheny Mountains and used Roebling technology to do so. Join us to learn more about this remarkable historic treasure.

We will hear about the history and importance of this National Park site from Park Ranger Elizabeth Shope.

Follow this link to register. 




From the collection at Hagley

Last month, we brought you a “lost” silent film found in the Cinecraft collection called “The Heart of Cleveland.” That film from 1925 pre-dated the founding of Cinecraft in 1937 so it wasn’t something the company produced. How it came to be part of Cinecraft’s collection isn’t known, but we do speculate in the article if you are interested.

Click here for more information about the Cinecraft collection at Hagley

This month, we are featuring the earliest print of a film produced by Cinecraft in the Hagley collection. The Romance of Iron and Steel, produced in 1938, sponsored by the American Rolling Mill Company (ARMCO) explains the science and process of making rolled steel. The film opens with an overview of the ARMCO Research Lab and then follows the manufacturing process through the company’s production facility. While never explicitly stated, we can assume that the film was shot on location at ARMCO in Middletown, Ohio. The film concludes with a message about “ARMCO men” and company culture with an address by ARMCO founder George M. Verity.

In addition to the print, we also have a copy of the film’s script showing edits made at some point during its development. Another interesting note, the original credits in the script attribute the film to Tri-State Productions. Cinecraft founder Ray Culley worked on a series of General Electric films for the Cleveland based Tri-State prior to founding Cinecraft in 1937. It’s possible the project originated at Tri-State and Culley inherited it when he started his own business.  While the mechanics of how the film came to be a Cinecraft production might never be known, what we do know is that this is an early example of Ray Culley’s skill as a filmmaker. 

In an article from the Cleveland Plain Dealer about The Romance of Iron and Steel in 1938, the paper’s movie critic W. Ward Marsh wrote 

“…for perfection in all departments (camera work, editing, narration, etc.) neither Hollywood with its too infrequent excursion into the documentary nor England with its boastful specializing in the documentary have produced anything to beat it…..So excellent is the technical work and so genuinely informative is the picture that I urgently recommend it be edited down to single reel length…and be issued to movie theaters.

Even while factoring in the writer’s hometown bias for a film produced in Cleveland, it’s hard to argue against the critics’ assessment of the film’s quality. It is well written, expertly paced, and, most importantly, informative. Even watching it over 80 years later, the film remains compelling.

Perhaps the most impressive technical feat of the film is a series of tracking shots taken from overhead cranes that offer a unique perspective into the process and machinery used to make rolled steel. It’s a creative technique that elevates the film’s production value beyond the film’s actual budget. Here is the longest of these tracking shots from the film:

To watch the entire film, check it out in the Culley Family Cinecraft Collection: https://digital.hagley.org/FILM_2018201_FC09


Other notes about The Romance of Iron and Steel

The film was narrated by Basil Ruysdael who started his career as an opera singer before becoming an actor. He served as the commercial spokesman for DuPont’s Cavalcade of America on NBC Radio beginning in 1940, which was among his many roles on radio.  He appeared as a detective in the first Marx Brothers film The Cocoanuts. His last role came as a voice actor for Disney’s One Hundred and One Dalmatians

George Verity, the ARMCO founder who appeared at the end of the film, started the company in 1899 and served as the company president until 1930. A retired steam towboat named after Verity is now a museum in Keokuk, Iowa:

The film’s name likely originates with the 1936-37 Great Lakes Exposition held in Cleveland. “The Romance of Iron and Steel” was one of the Expo’s themes. The massive fair on Lake Erie promoted business and industry in the area. 

To dive into the Cinecraft collection at Hagley, start here at our Digital Archives: digital.hagley/cinecraft

Cinecraft is still in business and specializes in eLearning and training & development projects for a national clientele and continues to develop various motion picture projects for business and non-profit clients. For more information, please visit www.cinecraft.com. ​

Kevin J. Martin is the Curator of Archives and the Andrew W. Mellon Curator of Audiovisual and Digital Collections at Hagley Museum and Library.

2020 Virtual Lantern Slide Salon

From the Wagner Free Institute

Lantern slide photograph of the Benjamin Franklin Bridge Under Construction, Wagner Free Institute of Science.

On Thursday, join the Wagner and three other special collections libraries for the 2020 Virtual Lantern Slide Salon. Part of Archives Month Philly, the Lantern Slide Salon is a yearly exhibition and celebration of glass lantern slides from special collections around the Philadelphia area.

This year, view digitized glass lantern slides from the collections of:

Tour beautiful Philadelphia gardens such as Laverock Hill (shown above) and learn about garden photography; see parades, flying horses, and windmills with the Doering family in turn-of-the-century Philadelphia; explore European cities in the 1930s through the lens of Devere Allen, a journalist, publisher, pacifist, and prominent Socialist Party member; and learn about civil engineering through the Wagner’s images of late 19th to early 20th century bridges and tunnels.

A hand-colored lantern slide image of Laverock Hill. Garden Club of Philadelphia Members’ Garden Lantern Slide Collection, 1900-1940. Pennsylvania Horticultural Society.

Follow this link for free registration:



This Old House-Factory Made

From large scale industry to small town makers, over the years This Old House has explored the places that provide building and finishing materials for our projects. We look back at some fascinating factories we’ve visited.

A recent program of the show featured several interesting tours. The complexity and intricacy of the machinery involved in the production of the materials is striking. One of the operations is in Pennsylvania.

These are the companies visited.
Interior doors: Baird Brothers Fine Hardwoods
Window glass: Cardinal Glass Industries
Bathtub: Kohler
Window factory: Marvin
Precast concrete walls: Superior Walls; Weaver Precast
Dimensional framing lumber: Weyerhaeuser

Link to the program: