‘Star of Bethlehem’ lit by promise of steel return to Sparrows Point – CBS Baltimore

SPARROW POINT (WJZ) – The “Star of Bethlehem” is once again lit at Sparrows Point.

“This is definitely the official start of the Christmas season,” said Tom Stoll, a retired steelworker. “It keeps the memory of Bethlehem Steel alive. “

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Tradepoint Atlantic officials lit the steel star affixed to the company’s water tower on Thursday in an annual ceremony.

“My father passed away last year. So to come and see it on again… ”said attendee Ken Medlin, Jr., pausing. “He worked here for a long time and he liked it.

The star is the same one that Bethlehem Steel has lit since 1978 from the top of the factory “L Furnace”.

“It was the Star of Bethlehem. It was hope, ”retired ironworker Jeff Mikula told the Baltimore Museum of Industry last month. “A lot of pride. It was a lot of hope for a lot of people. Too many of them gave their (life) there too. Lots of people have died over the years.

It is not known how many died during the 125 years of operation of the plant. A monument to fallen steelworkers, once outside the union hall, now stands in Dundalk Heritage Park.

In its heyday, Bethlehem Steel at Sparrows Point was once the largest steel mill in the world, responsible for building ships, skyscrapers and bridges.

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“When you work in a place like this, it’s in your blood. It’s in your pores, ”Mikula said.

Bethlehem Steel filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2001. Steel production continued by other owners until 2012. The “L Furnace” was scrapped in 2015.

The original “Star of Bethlehem” has endured, lit in various places since. His new home is on the Tradepoint Atlantic water tower, facing north.

“People in the community were counting on him to see him from Thanksgiving to the first of the year,” Mikula said.

This year’s lighting comes with the promise of steel coming back to Sparrows Point. A manufacturing facility is underway with US Wind, building materials for its wind farms along the east coast.

“It’s very emotional,” Steelworkers Jim Strong said ahead of the August announcement. “We have always considered this area to be sacred ground.

The facility is expected to create 500 union jobs once it is operational.

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The Baltimore Museum of Industry has numerous exhibits on the history of Bethlehem Steel and a temporary exhibition of photographs by Joe Giordano.

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