America's Best History Spotlight

On this page we're going to Spotlight the lesser known historic sites and attractions that dot the history landscape across the USA and are worth a visit if you're in their area. And while they may be lesser known, some are very unique, and will be that rare find. You'll be, at times, on the ground floor, or maybe even know something others don't. It'll be fun. Visit them.

Corliss Engine, National Museum of Industrial History

National Museum of Industrial History

The steel stacks of the blast furnaces rise above the earth in a foreboding reminder of what the industrial past of the United States had been. In their shadow, the National Museum of Industrial Revolution awaits, just opened in August 2016, and tells the story of the industrial revolution in companies like Bethlehem Steel with exhibits that include reminders of the people and their output in steel, and textiles, and engines. And boy, do they have a lot of those reminders. Just to your right as you enter the 20,000 square foot exhibit hall, you'll see a model of the most important engine in American history; just beyond, you see one of its offsprings in bright green. The Corliss Engine, built for the 1876 Philadelphia Centennial Exhibition, wowed an entire world, proving once and eventually for all, that the might of U.S. power would come from its ingenuity, its invention, its work. Throughout this museum, you'll see examples of that power in metal and cloth. You'll witness exhibits of whimsy (see the hot air balloon for that example) and you'll feel the stories of the men who toiled in those blast furnaces not far outside the windows of this legacy structure. And it will take you back. And it will remind you. And it will marvel you at how powerful a nation would become because of the industrial might exhibited here.

Photo above: An offspring example of the Corliss Engine on exhibit at the National Museum of Industrial Revolution.

  • National Museum of Industrial History

    National Museum of Industrial Revolution

    What is related here is not only the history of the industrial revolution, or even that of Bethlehem Steel, it is the history of work in the United States for over one hundred years. From the late 19th century until twenty-five years ago, almost every town in America had factories of steel, textile, or plastics lining the riverbanks and rail lines, providing well paying, important middle class jobs to families and building an America that would power and even dominate the world. You'll see examples of that work, or what real power was before semi-conductors made miniturization the watchword of industrial output. It's in many ways, the story of lives all across the United States.

    So take a break from the casino or Musikfest one day and walk into the NMIH. Geez, take a break from staring at your phone. It's a breathtaking example of what America became over one hundred years, and, to be honest, what we've just got to get back to some day soon, or we might just succumb to the fate of the South in the Civil War, unable to provide the necessary items during a time of strife, because those we used to think were friends are making the tough things of life, and we are at the mercy of them to provide it instead of making it ourselves.

    Image above: Exterior of the NMIH with large gear display. The National Museum of Industrial History is housed in an original building of the Bethlehem Steel Company.

  • National Museum of Industrial History

    What's There

    NMIH - 20,000 square feet of exhibit space, 40,000 square feet overall, including many exhibits many on loan from the Smithsonian. Engaging programs and special events. Check the webpage for what's going on the day you intend to come. Sometimes if you dress up, they'll give you a discount.

    How Many Visitors

    NA. Just open August 2016.

    How Much to Visit

    Adults - $12
    Seniors/Veterans/Students - $11
    Youth (7-17) - $9
    Children (6 and under) - Free

    Hours Open

    Normal hours are Wednesday to Sunday 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. During Musikfest, hours may be extended.

    Where Is It Located

    602 East 2nd Street, Bethlehem, PA 18015 is the address. To get to the museum, you'll take Exit 67 off Interstate 78 onto Route 412 toward Bethlehem. Route 412 is E. Main Street or Third Street. As you travel down that road, you'll pass the Sands Casino and see the steel stacks of Bethlehem Steel on your right. Turn right on Founders Way, approximately three miles from the Interstate, toward the stacks, then left onto 2nd Street. Look for the entrance to the parking area for the museum.

    National Museum of Industrial History.
  • Area Historic Sites

    So what else is there to do near the NMIH? Well, there's two obvious ones. For many, if history isn't too big a deal, they'll have a hard time bypassing the large Sands Casino on the way in or out. For others who can take a second history lesson, walk over to the Steelstacks and take the Hoover Mason Trestle Walkway tour or Rise and Fall of Bethlehem Steel tour. At times, they are guided (fee), but you can walk the trestle by yourself and read waysides if the tours are not available when you come. Beneath the stacks, there's also a Visitor Center with exhibits in the oldest building on site. Artsquest is a unique art and cinema space opposite the Steelstacks. You can stop in there for culture, and food.

    Visitor Center at Steelstacks
    Sands Casino Bethlehem

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