An interesting bit of history has found its way into the hands of the National Museum of Industrial History in Bethlehem.
A telegram regarding Bethlehem Steel’s role in the historic flight of the Spirit of St. Louis over the Atlantic Ocean more than 90 years ago is now in the museum’s collection.
The telegram from Wright Aeronautical, the makers of the plane's engine, to Bethlehem Steel congratulating it for its role in Charles Lindbergh’s legendary solo flight across the Atlantic was recently donated to the museum by James Stetler of Bethlehem.
The steel for the plane’s engine was made in the basic open hearth furnace in Bethlehem and poured into treated molds to create the engine pieces.
The telegram was the property of Stetler’s father-in-law, Garvin E. Kram, who was a Navy veteran and worked in the sales department for the casting and forgings department at Bethlehem Steel for 31 years.
Lindbergh became internationally famous in May 1927 after piloting the Spirit of St. Louis in a more than 33-hour flight between New York and Paris.
“Everyone knows the story,” said Glenn Koehler, marketing and outreach coordinator for the museum. “Kids are still taught this in school. It shows the significant global impact Bethlehem Steel had not just here in the U.S. but around the world.”
The telegram is not yet on display. It is in the museum’s archives, where it can be viewed by the public for research purposes.
The National Museum of Industrial History is a Smithsonian Institution-affiliate dedicated to preserving America’s rich industrial heritage.
It is housed in an 18,000-square-foot, 100-year-old building on former Bethlehem Steel property in Bethlehem.
Bethlehem Steel, once a titan of American industry, went out of business in 2003.