COATESVILLE (June 26, 2017) – The Graystone Society’s National Iron and Steel Heritage Museum (NISHM) is planning a major expansion, thanks, in part, to vital state funding secured by state Senator Andy Dinniman.
Dinniman recently succeeded in securing $45,000 in state funding for the museum – funds that will be used for costs related to the acquisition of two historic mill buildings, the 120” rolling mill and the motor house. Eventually, the buildings will be used to house and display large-scale museum exhibits, most notably, 28 pieces of steel from the wreckage of the World Trade Center – the largest such collection known in existence.
One of the massive 50-ton tridents from the World Trade Center is currently on display outside the mill. Additional tridents will be re-erected there in the exact formation as they stood on the northeast corner of the North Tower of the World Trade Center.
“The story of steel is central to both the history of our nation and of the City of Coatesville. The National Iron and Steel Heritage Museum is where those stories come together,” Dinniman said. “This expansion will boost the museum’s ongoing efforts to educate visitors about our past, memorialize our shared strength, unity and resilience, and inspire the next generation to careers in science, engineering, and technology.”
While the site has been actively producing iron and steel since 1810, the two buildings were built as part of the World War II production effort. Production was halted at the buildings in 1982 when the rolling mill was moved to another plant in Conshohocken.
The museum plans to renovate the former steel production buildings, which encompass a combined space of more than four acres, into an exhibit and programming space to tell the story of iron and steel manufacturing from the process, to the products, to the people.
“There is a sense of pride here,” said Scott G. Huston, NISHM President. “People come back and they want to look at the mill buildings. They want to see where their fathers and grandfathers worked.”
Steel plate from the Coatesville plant played and continues to play an important role in the defense of our nation and the safety of our fighting servicemen and women. Steel from the site is included in the U.S. Navy’s entire aircraft carrier fleet – from the first-ever USS Langley to the USS Enterprise, which is currently under construction, according to the museum.
Steel from Coatesville is also found in:
• The hull of every U.S. naval submarine, including the first atomic-powered submarine, the Nautilus.
• The Navy’s Aegis cruisers, Amphibious Assault Ships, and ballistic missiles.
• Military Humvees, Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles, and MRAP All-Terrain Vehicles.
• The U.S. Army’s Abrams tanks.
As well as producing the steel for the World Trade Center tridents in the late 1960s, steel from the Coatesville plant was also used in the construction of New York’s Freedom Tower, which replaced the World Trade Center.
In addition to teaching visitors and young people about Coatesville’s key role in the building the nation’s railroads, bridges, skyscrapers, ships, aircraft, and military equipment and vehicles, museum officials also hope to attract young people to careers in engineering, manufacturing, and related trades.
“Hopefully, we continue to inspire young people to look into jobs in science, technology, engineering, arts, and math,” Huston said. “Igniting passion in young minds is critical to our collective future.”
“There is a real opportunity here not only to teach students about the role of American ingenuity, industry, and innovation at the local level, but also to stimulate and encourage interest in the fields of science, engineering, and technology,” Dinniman, who serves as minority chair of the Senate Education Committee, added.
The former Lukens Steel plant in Coatesville was acquired by ArcelorMittal in the late 2000s. Currently, the plant employs approximately 770.
NISHM officials and community leaders expect the museum’s expansion to be an important factor in the revitalization of Coatesville, which includes a new train station, as well as potential residential and commercial redevelopment opportunities.
ArcelorMittal donated the two buildings to the museum last fall. Museum officials say there is still substantial work ahead before the site will be visitor-ready, but plan to complete the project and open the expansion in phases.
For more information on the museum, visit www.steelmuseum.org.