Bethlehem Steel Company was one of the largest steel producers in United States history during the 20th century. Prior To its decline in the 1970s, Bethlehem Steel was second only to US Steel in world production. Saucona Iron Company (later renamed Bethlehem Steel) was founded in 1857 by a group of investors led by John Fritz. Fritz had developed a new method of producing steel rails for railroads.
Over the years, Bethlehem Steel Company grew through a series of mergers and acquisitions. In 1901, it merged with the Pennsylvania Steel Company to become the Bethlehem Steel Corporation. In 1913, it acquired the Lackawanna Steel Company, which gave it a foothold in the Eastern United States.
Bethlehem Steel was a major producer of steel products, including:
- Structural steel
- Plate steel
- Bar steel
- Wire rod
- Steelmaking equipment
Bethlehem Steel was also a major producer of iron ore and coke, which are the raw materials used to make steel. The company had mines and coke ovens in the United States and Canada.
Bethlehem Steel was located in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, which is about 60 miles from the Atlantic coast. The company used a variety of methods to get its products to market, including:
- Railroad: Bethlehem Steel had its own railroad, which connected its plants to major railroads throughout the United States. This allowed the company to ship its products to markets all over the country.
- Barge: Bethlehem Steel also had a fleet of barges, which it used to ship its products on the Lehigh River and the Delaware River. This allowed the company to ship its products to markets in the Mid-Atlantic region.
- Truck: Bethlehem Steel also used trucks to ship its products to markets that were not served by rail or barge.
Bethlehem Steel was not located on the Great Lakes or at a seaport because the company was founded in the 1850s, when the Lehigh Valley was a major center of the steel industry. The Lehigh River was a major transportation artery at the time, and it made sense for Bethlehem Steel to locate its plants near the river.
In the early 20th century, the Great Lakes and seaports became more important for the steel industry. This was due to the development of new steelmaking technologies that required large amounts of water. Bethlehem Steel eventually built plants on the Great Lakes and at seaports, but the company’s original plants in the Lehigh Valley continued to be important.
During World War I, Bethlehem Steel Company became one of the main suppliers of steel for the war effort, producing armor plate, ordnance, and shipbuilding materials. The company continued to grow in the 1920s and 1930s, expanding into other areas such as construction materials and shipbuilding.
During World War II, Bethlehem Steel Company played a crucial role in the war effort, producing steel for ships, tanks, and other military equipment. After the war, the company continued to expand, acquiring the Steel Company of Canada and other steel producers.
In the 1970s and 1980s, however, the steel industry in the United States began to decline, as foreign competition and changes in technology made it difficult for American steel producers to compete. Bethlehem Steel Company struggled to adapt to these changes and faced financial difficulties.
In 2001, Bethlehem Steel Company filed for bankruptcy, and in 2003 it was acquired by the International Steel Group, which was later acquired by Mittal Steel Company. In 2008, Mittal Steel Company merged with Arcelor to become ArcelorMittal, which then became one of the largest steel producers in the world.
Here is a more detailed history of the Bethlehem Steel Corporation:
1857: The Saucona Iron Company is founded in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.
1861: The company produces its first wrought-iron railroad rails.
1899: The Bethlehem Iron Company is acquired by the newly formed Bethlehem Steel Company.
1914-1918: Bethlehem Steel produces large quantities of steel for the U.S. military during World War I.
1939-1945: Bethlehem Steel again produces large quantities of steel for the U.S. military during World War II.
1950s-1970s: Bethlehem Steel continues to grow, but it faces increasing competition from foreign steelmakers.
1980s-1990s: Bethlehem Steel struggles to adapt to the changing market conditions of the 1980s and 1990s.
2001: Bethlehem Steel files for bankruptcy.
2003: The Bethlehem Steel Corporation ceases to exist.
Today, the Bethlehem Steel plant in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania has been largely dismantled and redeveloped into a cultural and entertainment destination known as SteelStacks. The legacy of Bethlehem Steel Company, however, continues to be felt in the communities it served and the steel industry as a whole.
- Year Started: 1857
- Year Ended: 2003
- Origin Of Name: N/A
- Location Sales: City of the Business
- Brand Name Predecessor: Saucona Iron Company
- Brand Name Successor: N/A
- Owner Original: John Fritz and Partners
- Owner While In Use: Publicly Traded
- Owner Successor: N/A
- Year Resurrected: N/A
- What’s Popular Today: China Baowu Steel Group
- Naics Code: 331110
- Location Headquarters: Bethlehem, Pennsylvania USA