The silence of the frigid early morning was broken by a freight train that had shifted forward a few feet, sending the two miles of rail cars clanking against each other in a seemingly endless domino pattern. The sound from the rail line reverberated off the massive steel furnaces as we searched for a way to the elevated tracks. Flashlights had to be used sparingly in the darkness here; my friend and I have both been wanting to explore Bethlehem Steel for many years, and we weren't about to screw it up with carelessness. The security forces here were infamous for prosecuting trespassers within the fullest extent of the law possible, without exceptions, so we took every precaution we could.
Upon reaching the top of the high line, I walked to the very end to take a look at the situation of our surroundings, as it was impossible to see out while ascending through the belly of the mill. Seven police cruisers were lined up in the weedy parking lot below; I quickly crouched behind a small bush that was somehow growing out of the steel and watched. It looked like a late night social gathering, and I was most likely invisible against the black steel... nothing to worry about, but it sure gave me a start!
The adrenaline tapered off as we sat down and waited for the slowly approaching dawn light. The January wind whipped over the tracks and the cold from the steel seemed to permeate into our bones. I started taking some photos to get the blood going. Walking along the tracks was a real trip; the sharp orange glow of the street lamps cast deep, impenetrable shadows along the walkways. One bad step and you were at the bottom of a 60 foot deep coal bin. The steel was also rotted very badly in some places; holes could be seen through half-inch thick plates where the water and ice had flaked away the rusty layers. To make things a little more interesting, there were also round pellets scattered everywhere - fuel for the furnaces, and a bit slippery!
As the sun rose, it was apparent that we would only get to see a fraction of the mill; the sheer size of it was incredible. We probably wound up spending more time walking than shooting, just to try and cover what we could. I hope you enjoy this veritable museum of vintage industry.