Even with the passage of 35 years, Noel Varela has all-too-vivid memories of December 27, 1982. On this day, Bethlehem Steel announced plans to shut down nearly all steelmaking operations at its Lackawanna Plant within six months.
At its peak, Bethlehem was one of the world’s four steelmaking Goliaths, employing 22,000 local residents.
Varela worked for Bethlehem for 35 years, as did his father. Varela is secretary-treasurer of the Steel Plant Museum.
The nonprofit organization is located at 100 Lee Street in Buffalo. It was established in 1984 to help preserve and document the memories of the steelmaking industry in Western New York. Exhibits include artifacts, documents and photographs from Bethlehem Steel's Lackawanna plant, as well items from Republic Steel, Hanna Furnace and other local companies with ties to the steel industry.
Varela talks with WBFO News Director Brian Meyer about Bethlehem’s demise and about steelmaking's legacy in Western New York,