The National Iron and Steel Heritage Museum in Coatesville plans to erect steel tridents from the World Trade Center and has acquired two World War II-era steel production buildings as part of an expansion 20 years in the making.
Museum officials hope the expansion, and especially the tridents, will draw more tourists, who in turn will visit restaurants, hotels, and other businesses in the Chester County city, a former steel town that is in the midst of its latest effort to revitalize.
The museum sits on the site of the former Lukens Steel Co., a major employer in the city, where workers in the late 1960s made steel for 152 of the World Trade Center's tridents - some of which stayed upright in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
The museum plans to erect some of the tridents on its property in the same formation as they stood, on the northeast corner of the north tower. The museum has the largest collection of World Trade Center steel artifacts in the country.
In the acquired buildings, the museum plans to showcase artifacts and teach visitors how steel is made. Together, the buildings, which are behind the museum's steelworkers' memorial, provide more than four acres of space for exhibits. Plans include a visitor center and classrooms for the museum's current 5,000 annual visitors. The exhibit space now consists mainly of the Lukens Executive Office Building. The museum is part of a 12-acre historic district.
ArcelorMittal, the global steelmaker that owned the historic rolling mill and motor house, donated the buildings. They were built as part of the World War II effort and were steel production sites for battleships, submarines, aircraft carriers, and other vessels.
"As the oldest continuously operating steel mill in the U.S., we have a long history here in Coatesville," Ed Frey, general manager of ArcelorMittal's eastern plate division, said in a statement. "We are excited to share our industry's history and advancements in innovation with our neighbors, children, and visitors alike."
Numerous ownership changes at the mill slowed plans by the Graystone Society, the nonprofit that owns the museum, to reuse the buildings.
"It's been a long time coming," said James Ziegler, the museum's executive director, "but it's well worth the wait."