BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The landscape at Sparrows Point is about to change dramatically.
Pat Warren reports plans to demolish the Bethlehem Steel blast furnace bring Marylanders together to remember the past and look to the future.
Generations of Marylanders poured their working lives into building America at Bethlehem Steel and now that it’s being dismantled, they’re taking pieces of it home.
“I live not too far from here. Every time I come down, there’s a tear in my eye,” said retired steelworker Don Kellner.
There were tears in many eyes Monday as steelworkers were honored in a ceremony marking the end of what was Baltimore’s industrial identity: The Beast of the East, the blast furnace that produced more than 125 million tons of metal in its lifetime and provided livelihoods for thousands.
“I worked with the greatest bunch of people in the world: steelworkers. Hourly, salary, it was a family,” Kellner said.
“It was a beautiful place to work. I miss all of my coworkers. I see them in the street and we might now always know each other’s names but we’re all steelworkers and it’s a lot of love,” said Addie Houston-Smith.
Now Sparrows Point is poised to enter a new era.
“I think we’re going to bring back the next generation of jobs to Sparrows Point,” said Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz.
The new owner, Sparrows Point Terminal, is actively working to bring new industries to the location. Maryland lawmakers believe there’s a promising future.
“It’s the ladder of economic opportunity for the future here in east Baltimore County,” said Senator Ben Cardin.
“We want jobs and we want them here and we want jobs that pay a family wage,” said Senator Barbara Mikulski.
“We have local ownership here who cares about our area, who cares about success and they have the resources to back up the job,” said Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger.
“Once again to be the beacon of manufacturing for the Eastern Seaboard,” said State Comptroller Peter Franchot.
It’s what these former workers hope for.
“My grandkids, my great-grandkids—maybe they’ll have a better future,” said one.
Next month’s demolition helps clear the way. There’s no exact date or time given for the demolition—a lot depends on weather—but we’re told it will be a weekday around dusk and the public will not be allowed to attend.
The blast furnace is the latest in a series of demolitions on the site.
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