The town of Coatesville in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania is 40 miles west of Philadelphia and 40 miles east of Lancaster. It is a town on the Lincoln Highway commonly known as U.S. Route 30. (U.S. Route 30 bypasses the town. U.S. Business 30 follows the original Lincoln Highway through the town.) The town’s name comes from a local farmer named Moses Coates whose son-in-law created the town. One of the main features of the town is the arching railroad bridge (aqueduct) that crosses the West Brandywine Creek, Pennsylvania Route 82, and a railroad line. The town was the home of Lukens Steel Company, a company founded by Charles Lukens. What is great about Lukens Steel? It was the first steel company to produce steel hulls for ships. It went on to produce steel for major projects like the Walt Whitman Bridge in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and the two World Trade Center Towers in New York City, New York. When Charles Lukens passed away, his wife, Rebecca, took over the company making her the first woman in the United States of America to be a part of the iron industry and the first woman in the United States of America to be the chief operating officer of an industrial company. Another accomplishment is that the company is the longest commissioned steel mill in the United States of America.
The original site of the Lukens Steel Company became the home of the National Iron and Steel Heritage Museum. Here, you will see how the company came about how steel and iron are made and the many uses. You can even get a tour of the different homes to include the home of Charles and Rebecca Lukens. A visit to the National Iron and Steel Heritage Museum in Coatesville, Pennsylvania is a must see for anybody who is into the steel and iron industry.
Some of you are saying, “This is wonderful. It is amazing to see the many accomplishments of the steel and Iron industry, and they chose this town to have the factory. There is a problem. As you can see, there is nothing about the railroad here. Therefore, you will not see me here either.”
You are very mistaken. The National Iron and Steel Heritage Museum has so much to do with the railroad. The very first thing you will see when you enter the parking lot is a train with a steam locomotive pulling cars with steel items. That is just the beginning. This is the National Iron and Steel Heritage Museum at the former shops of the Lukens Steel Company. What are rails made of? They are made of steel, and they made rails for many railroads through the United States of America to include the Union Pacific Railroad and the New York Central System, and the steel was used to build the diesel locomotives, for steam locomotives from the boilers to the wheels, and to build the rolling stock. Also, in the museum, you will see displays on how the railroad was used for the transport of steel products. If that is not enough, you have model locomotives and rolling stock on display. Lukens Steel Company is a major contributor to the railroad industry, and the railroad still serves the company as the company serves the railroad to this very day. While you are at the museum, you may be fortunate enough to see a train go by.
The National Iron and Steel Heritage Museum was established to pay tribute to the steel industry in a town that was built around the industry that has been nicknamed the ‘Pittsburgh of the East’. Along with the museum, there is also a monument dedicated to those who died at the World Trade Center in New York City, New York on September 11, 2001, consisting of steel from the factory that went to New York… and was brought back home.
The National Iron and Steel Heritage Museum is in the original office building of the Lukens Steel Company at 50 South First Avenue in Coatesville, Pennsylvania. It is just off Pennsylvania Route 82 and U.S. Business Route 30, and five miles south of U.S. Route 30. It is open Monday to Saturday from 10:00am to 4:00pm. Tours of the museum itself and the grounds are self-guided, but there are guided house tours that do require walking and crossing the street plus climbing stairs. (Some of the houses are not handicap accessible.) Parking is on site. You can get information on admission and tours at https://steelmuseum.org/.
Are you up to visit the National Iron and Steel Heritage Museum? There is much history about steel, and there is much history about the railroad.