National Museum of Industrial History

National Museum of Industrial History in Bethlehem, PA

National Museum of Industrial History

Updated on May 2nd, 2024

The National Museum of Industrial History (NMIH) “interprets industry past, present and future through dynamic exhibits, hands-on interactives and engaging programs.” The Smithsonian Affiliate is in the former Electric Repair Shop of the Bethlehem Steel plant site in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

The NMIH’s vision is “to forge a connection between America’s industrial past and the innovations of today by educating the public and inspiring the visionaries of tomorrow.” The museum strives to share its vision by telling the story of America’s industrial achievements and the accomplishments of its workers, innovators, and entrepreneurs. The exhibits at the NMIH explore the national stories of how “industry transformed the American landscape, workforce, way of life, and global perceptions” through a local lens. Many of the exhibits have direct ties back to the Bethlehem area.

One of the main galleries of the NMIH, Machinery Hall, tells the story of American industry power on display at the 1876 Centennial in Philadelphia. This gallery includes 19 artifacts on loan from the Smithsonian National Museum of American History. In many visitors’ opinions, the most significant artifact in the gallery is the massive 115-ton Corliss steam engine.

Victaulic Steam Engine

For years, NMIH staff and volunteers worked to restore the 115-ton stational steam engine to working order. Built over 100 years ago, the engine was used by the Snow Steam Pump Works, located in Buffalo, New York, for the York Water Company to pump eight million gallons of water per day. Even today, as the main focal point in the museum, the Corliss steam engine is still the most powerful operating waterworks steam engine in North America. The museum runs the steam engine once a quarter.

NMIH and Victaulic

When the engine was first installed in the museum in 2015, the museum curators knew that they wanted to fully restore the Corliss steam engine to operating status. Many industry experts and community partners, including Victaulic, joined this mission.

Located less than 20 minutes from its Worldwide Corporate Headquarters, Victaulic was honored to support the restoration process of this prestigious display. During the restoration process, Victaulic helped to outfit the engine with a grooved mechanical joint for saturated steam systems. The Victaulic solutions eliminated the need for any hazardous welding on the piping system creating the perfect blend of old and contemporary.

To read more from ASME about the restoration process, including how Victaulic supported, click here.

To learn more about the Corliss Steam Engine and Victaulic’s involvement visit the National Museum of Industrial History’s website featuring “The Big Green Machine” book detailing all the facts.

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