Bethlehem Steel Company
On July 16th, 1860, ground was broken, but the early construction was much delayed by the disturbance of the Civil War then in progress. The first blast furnace was blown-in January 4th, 1863, the puddle furnaces were completed and began operations July 27th, 1863, and the first rails of puddled iron were rolled on the rolling mill September 26th, 1863.
The infant industry prospered from the first, partly due to its favorable location in the Lehigh Valley in close proximity to supplies of ore and fuel, but mainly to the mechanical genius of its then General Superintendent, the now world-famous Mr. John Fritz, and the plant, from an early period of its existence, has commanded the attention and interest of steel men both at home and abroad, both for the ingenuity and engineering skill shown in its design, and for the uniformly high quality of its output. Many of the methods and devices now in general use in the manufacture of iron and steel had their birthplace at Bethlehem. It was of these works that the late Alexander Holly, an Engineer of international reputation, said, "I never come but that I go away with something good".
In the early 70's the then recent invention of the Bessemer Process of making steel was taken up, and the first steel was made by this method October 4th, 1873, the first steel rail being rolled on the 18th of the same month. Up to 1885, the output of this Company was pig iron, billets, rails and similar products, but during that year plans were made for a plant for the manufacture of heavy forgings and castings from Open Hearth Steel, including forgings for guns of large calibre. In 1886 it was decided to establish an Armor Plate works, and during the following year contracts were taken from the United States Government for Armor Plate and Gun Forgings. During the next twenty years the attention of the Company was directed more and more to the development of the Armor Plate plant and the plant for the manufacture of guns and other high grade forgings and castings, the Bessemer Works and Rail Mill being abandoned. Recently (1906) an entirely new plant was built, adjacent to the then existing works, with furnaces and rolling mills for the manufacture of rails and structural shapes of Open Hearth Steel exclusively, the Company thus re-entering its original line of business.
In its ordnance work the Bethlehem Company has not only produced material of the highest quality, but has always been a leader in the design and development of ordnance equipment now in use not only by the United States, but also by the other great countries of the world.
The plant at Bethlehem is not equipped for the manufacture of the complete armor, armament, ammunition, shafting, etc., for the largest battleships, and, in conjunction with the affiliated shipbuilding plants (mentioned below) to build battleships complete. On April 17th, 1899, the Bethlehem Steel Company was incorporated with a larger capital stock, which was taken pro rata by the shareholders of the Bethlehem Iron Company, and the business was thereafter carried on in the name of the Bethlehem Steel Company.
As an example of the many contributions by this Company to the improvements in methods of manufacture, there may be mentioned the development, about this time, of the now universally-used "High Speed Tool Steel" which was invented and perfected at the works of the Bethlehem Steel Company by its Engineers, Messrs. Fred W. Taylor and Maunsel White. This tool steel was first exhibited at the Paris Exposition in 1900, and astonishing results in speeds of cutting steel were publicly demonstrated. With tools treated by the Taylor-White Process it was possible to double or triple the best previous speeds of machining, and its not too much to say that this invention has revolutionized machine shop practice the world over. Another example of its enterprise in development along ordnance lines, may be cited in the two-hand drive for elevating and training gears for rapid-fire guns, patents covering which are in force in all large countries, and which is employed on guns of this type used by both the United States and Great Britain.
Since the formation of the Bethlehem Steel Corporation, about nine years ago, Mr. Charles M. Schwab has devoted practically his entire time to the development of its properties. Not only have all of the plants of the Corporation been extended and enlarged, but in every department they have been brought to the highest possible physical condition for attaining the maximum output with minimum costs. Conjointly with the upbuilding of the plants Mr. Schwab has paid particular attention to the development of an organization modeled largely along the lines that proved so successful during his administration of the affairs of the Carnegie Steel Company.
The Bethlehem Steel Corporation now embraces the following plants, and their full operation employs about 30,000 men:
Plant at South Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, manufacturing pig iron, iron castings, puddled bar, staybolt iron, steel castings, steel forgings (including forgings from hydraulically fluid compressed ingots), gun forgings, gun mounts, disappearing gun carriages, finished guns of all calibres complete with sights, shields, firing mechanisms, etc., projectiles, both plain steel and armor-piercing, field carriages, limbers, caissons, range finders, and other ordnance material, armor plate for battleships and land fortifications, armor plate vaults, special machinery (designed and built), gas and pumping engines, brass and bronze castings, tool steel, drop forgings, rail, billets, and structural material of both standard and "Special Bethlehem" sections.
The plant covers an area of about 1,500 acres, comprises seven large modern Blast Furnaces, three Open Hearth Furnace departments with thirty-three furnaces, two steel forging departments, three treatment departments, seven machine shops, a crucible steel department with furnaces, hammer shop and rolling mills, an electric furnace for melting and refining, puddle furnaces and rolling mills for alloy steel bars and shapes, a drop forge department, with treatment department and machine shop, foundries for iron, steel and brass castings, and separate complete departments for the forging, treating and machining projectiles. The recent addition (in 1906) of rolling mills, referred to above, contains, besides its Open Hearth and Bessemer Converter Departments, two blooming mills, a rail mill, rolling mill for "standard" structural shapes, and a rolling mill of special patented design for the rolling of the "Bethlehem" structural shapes. These last are of scientifically planned section, and are much lighter for a given strength than the section rolled by other mills.
Among the contracts of interest that have been executed by the Bethlehem Steel Company, are the following:
Cast iron segments forming railroad and other tunnels
under the Hudson River at New York
PHILADELPHIA, BETHLEHEM & NEW ENGLAND RAILROAD COMPANY
This is a railroad operating between the several departments of the Bethlehem Steel Company, the Lehigh Coke Company's plant, and several independent industries along its line.
BETHLEHEM STEEL PRODUCTS COMPANY
A selling Company, organized and operated, to facilitate the selling
of Bethlehem products in foreign States and Countries.
TITUSVILLE FORGE COMPANY
The plant of this Company is located at Titusville, in Western Pennsylvania, and manufactures iron and steel forgings.
JURAGUA IRON COMPANY
This Company controls about 10,000 acres of iron ore lands in the South
Coast of Cuba, which for twenty-five years have furnished the base supply
of high-grade ore to the Bethlehem Company. The shipping port if
BETHLEHEM-CHILE IRON MINES COMPANY
This Company controls large iron ore deposits in the Province of Coquimbo, Chile. The ore is of the highest quality ever used for the manufacture of pig iron, running about sixty-eight per cent. Of iron, and free from deleterious impurities. A fleet of specially designed ships, for carrying the ore from Chile to the United States, is being built by European concerns, under long-term transportation contracts.
FORE RIVER SHIPBUILDING CORPORATION
This is one of the largest shipbuilding plants on the Atlantic Coast, located at Quincy, Mass., and gives the Bethlehem Steel Company facilities for building on the Atlantic seaboard, complete battleships, fully armored. This Company has recently completed one of the largest and most modern battleships in the world, for the Argentine Government.
UNION IRON WORKS COMPANY
This shipbuilding Company, at San Francisco, California, build and repairs battleships and merchant vessels, and manufactures a line of mining machinery. Of the numerous vessels it has built for the U. S. Navy, this Company points with particular pride to the "Oregon", whose splendid performance during the Spanish War is a matter of history. This Company controls, by ownership of all its capital stock, the Union Iron Works Dry Dock Company, with floating docks and the largest graving docks on the Pacific Coast.
HARLAN & HOLLINGSWORTH CORPORATION
This Company, located at Wilmington, Delaware, builds principally merchant vessels, ferry boats, etc., though it has built torpedo boats and destroyers for the United States Navy. It has also a large car shop, and its passenger cars are well and favorably known in South American, China, and other foreign countries.
SAMUEL L. MOORE & SONS CORPORATION
Located at Elizabethport, New Jersey, this plant is engaged in a general foundry and machine shop business.
BETHLEHEM IRON MINES
This Company controls valuable iron ore deposits of great magnitude on the North Coast of Cuba, and in the Province of Camaguey in that Island. It also controls deposits in the Adirondack region of New York State.
The officers of the Bethlehem Steel Company are as follows:
C. M. SCHWAB, Chairman of the Board