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South Mountain Forest Program Reports, 1957-1964

Identifier: SC MS 0373

Scope and Contents

The collection is composed of four booklets assembled by Bethlehem Steel Corp.’s project forester, James M. Francis, Jr. The earliest reports were semi- annual and later became an annual report. They appear to have been used only for Inter-office correspondence as an accounting for the “project” of a forestry program on South Mountain for which BSC hired Mr. Francis. This project was named the South Mountain Research Center. In 1957 Bethlehem Steel organized its forestry division to supervise the vegetation on South Mountain in Bethlehem where the corporation was constructing its Homer Research Laboratories.


  • Creation: 1957-1964


Conditions Governing Access

Collection housed remotely. Users need to contact 24 hours in advance.

Conditions Governing Use

Collection is open for research.

Biographical / Historical

James M. Francis, a registered consulting forester, was hired by Bethlehem Steel Corporation in 1957 to set up a division to handle the timber management of the thousands of acres of woodlands owned by Bethlehem Steel and rehabilitation of the vegetation on South Mountain, Bethlehem, Pa., where the corporation was about to construct its Homer Research Laboratories. Around 1956 Bethlehem Steel acquired 1000 acres of the mountaintop of South Mountain adjacent to Lehigh University between Bethlehem and Hellertown, Pennsylvania on which to build a research center with the idea to concentrate research into one facility. The woodlands covering much of the mountain had the effect of years of heavy, uncontrolled cutting, as well as frequent forest fires. With the establishment of a forestry division, the corporation also began a sawmill to accommodate selective cutting of the mature trees, as well as using untreed corporation lands for tree farms and reclamation of the piles of coal-mine refuse planting experimentally with trees, shrubs and grasses to stabilize the piles against wind and water erosion. Bethlehem Steel wanted to be a good neighbor. Even in the days of Charles M. Schwab, Bethlehem Steel founder, the company was interested in “good housekeeping.” Specifically, the South Mountain Research Center was created to deal with the construction disruption on South Mountain. Following that specific project, Mr. Francis continued to work for Bethlehem Steel’s forestry division establishing reclamation projects for abandoned tailings and coal-mine refuse piles. Specific to the building of the Homer Research Laboratories, by 1957 the site was graded and cleared for test borings for foundations and utilities laid. The first stage of construction was to begin by mid-1958 with the first steel-frame structures completed by early 1959. Occupancy was Fall 1960 for the main office and laboratory, process metallurgy pilot plant, warehouse and shops, boiler house and photographic laboratory. These laboratories overlooked the Bethlehem Steel General Office in south Bethlehem from their position on the mountaintop. Eventually on the demise of Bethlehem Steel Corporation, Lehigh University acquired the properties and named Mountaintop Campus.


1 box, .25 linear feet (4 booklets)

Language of Materials



Four progress reports describing a little known forestry project created by Bethlehem Steel Corporation during the late 1950s and 1960s on Bethlehem’s South Mountain in order to manage the woods for construction of a research center. The project was known as the South Mountain Research Center, later named as Homer Research Laboratories. The center was established to deal with timber management and land reclamation.


The arrangement of the collection is chronological.

Other Finding Aids

Special Collections owns a number of Bethlehem Steel Corporation publications.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Material was acquired in 2019 from the Facilities Services.

Related Materials

“Tree Plantation at Lehigh University” SC LVF T785. Lehigh Arboretum

Ilhan Citak and Eleanor Nothelfer
September 23, 2019
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Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Repository Details

Part of the Lehigh University Special Collections Repository

Lehigh University
Linderman Library
30 Library Drive
Bethlehem PA 18045 USA
610-758-6091 (Fax)