At its height, Bethlehem Steel was the second-largest steel producer in the United States. Employing tens of thousands of people, the company’s massive steel works on the banks of the Lehigh River supplied the building materials for projects like the Golden Gate Bridge, the Chrysler Building, the Hoover Dam, and countless others. And the backbone of this operation was the Hoover-Mason Trestle.
Completed in 1907 and named after the New York engineering firm that designed it, the Hoover-Mason Trestle was a narrow gauge internal railway that shuttled raw materials from Bethlehem Steel’s ore yards to enormous blast furnaces. Every day, train cars traversed the one-half-mile-long track, delivering iron ore, limestone, and coke into the fiery maw of the industrial giant that converted them into world-famous, high-quality steel.
The steel works dominated the economic, social, and physical landscape of the titular town for well over a century. Thus, when plant operations ceased in 1995, and Bethlehem Steel declared bankruptcy in 2001 and subsequently ceased to exist in 2003, the city of Bethlehem was confronted with the question of what to do with the now-silent leviathan of a facility.
Rather than demolish it or leave it to fall to ruin, Bethlehem has chosen to preserve the American industrial landmark and repurpose it as a site for arts and culture. As part of that effort, the Hoover-Mason Trestle has been transformed into a 1,650-foot linear park. Standing four stories above street level, the Hoover-Mason Trestle gives visitors a place to stroll and sit at the foot of the sleeping blast furnaces, with placards providing interpretation for both the hulking machinery towering overhead as well as the lives of the people who worked there.
Similar to New York’s High Line—including the presence of native plantings as well as wild vegetation—the Hoover-Mason Trestle park was completed in 2015. It is easily accessible from the Levitt Pavilion, the SteelStacks Visitor Center, and the fabulous Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem.
Know Before You Go
The Visitor Center at SteelStacks is located in the former Stock House for Bethlehem Steel. Tours are available.