Sheds & Guns!

Posted on : July 26, 2012

Shed has more history than the Museum!

The newly restored shed at DownsSteam Railway and Museum is for the use of volunteers to work on the LOCO 106 “Pride of Toowoomba” which hopefully will be finished in 2015 for the locos 100th birthday!

William Boden and Tom Redwood are two of many volunteers who have helped get the new restoration shed at DownsSteam Railway and Museum up and ready for the opening on Saturday. Photo Dave Noonan

The full article concerning the shed and train museum is in the Toowoomba Chronicle on 19th July 2012. From the article the shed had many uses prior to its current use – and the original shed was purchased for use as an aircraft hanger at Oakey in Queensland (not far from Toowoomba)! The shed is not that special – except it was made in America in 1942 and shipped to Australia for use in the war period. The history of the shed is amazing – it was fabricated by Bethlehem Steel in Pennsylvania in 1942 nearly 70 years ago and with a huge effort of a design drawn up by USQ School of Engineering students, the shed was able to be reconstructed after many years lying at the old Bridge St quarry!

Now for the history the steel of this shed shares:  Bethlehem Steel in Pennsylvania was America’s second largest company that started in 1857 and finally filed for bankruptcy in 2001 and all assets sold. During the 1940’s it employed some 300,000 workers with 180,000 alone in the steel ship building sector. Coincidence is that Bethlehem Steel produced this railway gun and also the shed in Toowoomba that houses a railway museum. This particular gun is now in a museum in Brazil:

“Bethlehem 177” railway gun on display at Museum Militar Conde de Linhares

Along with this spectacular piece – Bethlehem Steel in Pennsylvania was producing one naval vessel per day – which totalled 1,121 ships which was more than any other builder in the war period.

6″, 10″, 12″, and 14″ naval guns being assembled at a Bethlehem Steel facility

So this company that made the Toowoomba shed also produce huge numbers of naval and army guns at the same time, How did it manage to fit in such a small (by comparison) order for an aircraft hanger at Oakey in Queensland. Well it will be an interesting tour of the Downs Steam Railway and Museum not only looking at the 100 year old “Pride of Toowoomba” locomotive, but seeing the 70 year old steel fabricated at the same time as thousands of guns, ships and icons in America. One like this one – that Bethlehem Steel supplied most of the steel for the cable cars and tracks – always it comes back to TRAINS!

Steel for the “San Francisco Municipal Railway” system came from Bethlehem Steel!

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