Almost Gone (photographs of Bethlehem Steel)

In my opinion, Bethlehem Steel's Lehigh plant was probably the most dramatic industrial abandonment in the United States. It was a massive, complex, and desolate relic of America's great, lost industrial age. I first visited and photographed Bethlehem Steel on January 31st, 2003. By sheer coincidence, at midnight that night, Bethlehem Steel Corporation was dissolved. So I am quite likely the last person to have photographed this magnificent location while it was still under the dominion of Bethlehem Steel.

This body of work - only partially represented here - was my first attempt at a serious photography exhibit. Some pieces here have gone on to win awards, and it still remains my favorite photographic body of work. Shortly after completing it I teamed up with a small production company and we made a short film using my photographs and some video I had taken. Check it out.

Bethlehem Steel
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Eileen Clayborn Chyzinski07/29/2023
My father, M.D. Clayborn, was a crane operator at the plant from 1942 until he retired in 1973. I remember going with my father to pick up his pay check. He would park across the street and you could feel the heat. My Uncle J. D. Clayborn also worked there in the wire mill.
Chris Morales01/16/2022
My Dad Worked there from 1940s until he Retired in 1978, Any Photos of the workers?
Lisa Wilcox08/22/2021
Hey, descendants of Vernon workers! My dad was chief engineer at the plant for decades. Did any of you do the open house tour? It was incredible.
Lisa Wesselman Almaguer06/18/2019
My Grandfather worked for Bethlehem Steel, the Vernon location. He started as a temporary employee in 1946 after WWII and worked there until he retired. Sadly, I've never seen the plant but I have heard stories from my Grandparents.
Steelworkers are a brotherhood that includes our steelworker sisters, so while we LOVE our BSC Vernon brothers and sisters, it may be worth noting that all the photos here depict the BSC Lehigh plant in Bethlehem, PA the original.
Cheryl Stella05/29/2018
I left the name of my father off the post, it was Duane Reineman
Cheryl Stella05/29/2018
My father also worked at the Vernon plant from early 1950 maybe late 1940's until the 1970's, my uncle was also the plant superintendent during this period. I have lots of pictures my dad kept. Group pictures, and lots of plant pictures and individual pictures of the guys.
Marilynn Simon Stumfall11/15/2016
My dad Al Simon worked for Bethlehem Steel in Vernon from 1934 to 1969 and died in 1970. I have memories of the molten red ingots on some kind of railroad cars. And especially I remember when the molten steel was poured. Last he work with the Electric Furance. Once he came home badly burnt.
Joyce Underwood Horak10/09/2016
My father worked for Bethlehem Steel, Vernon from the mid 1940s until he o retired in the late 1960s. My husband also worked there for almost 15 years. As a child my dad and I would stand outside the fence and watch the dinky diesel train pull the flatbeds of steel around the property.
Timothy Martin08/04/2016
I remember passing by the Vernon plant on Slauson Ave. you would see them lifting those molten red hot giant chunks of steel, You would fill the heat as you passed by. I wish there was some photos of that.
thomas robinson05/15/2016
I remember passing the Vernon plant.stopping at downey ave. you could look inside and see the large vats with orange glow liquid steel. scared me as a kid,but wow,what a site!! I miss the America I grew up with!!
Fred Mihalow01/30/2016
It's too bad we can't see more photos with BSCO doing what it used to do -- making steel.
Ronald Norberg02/16/2014
I also worked at Vernon plant. 12 rolling mill and rebar shop. any photos?
Josie Lucero Guerra11/03/2012
I was so glad to come across your site. My father used to work at Bethlehem Steel in the city of Vernon, Cal. From the sixties to 1980 when they closed it down. I have been trying to find pictures of the plant but only come across the one in Pittsburg.

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