Most of us don’t know the term “Steel Trees” but all of us saw them in the news films and photographs. Those charred tree like steel structures are burned into our memory of the World Trade Center. They were the only parts of the World Trade Center that still stood above ground when the search through the rubble began. Most of them were made right here in Coatesville at Lukens Steel Company.
The City of Coatesville was never intended as a final resting place for those Steel Trees that supported the first nine stories of the World Trade Center Buildings in New York City.
There were fifty five fire companies among the people that came to view the procession of twenty eight tractors hauling the parts of ten Steel Trees on flat bed trailers. They waited for them to make the turn at Lincoln Highway to First Avenue at Memorial Park.
Tim Philman, the driver of the second truck in the procession, said that when they came into Pennsylvania at the Delaware River Gap, people lined the streets and a fire company stood at salute. From there on whenever they passed near a town people waved and saluted.
I believe that all of the thousands of people watching that flag draped procession through the Pocono Mountains and on to Coatesville had a tear in their eye.
It’s not just cold steel. It really was a kind of funeral. Part of the dust and the burned oxidized iron that covers those Steel Trees is the incinerated remains of the people that died on that day. Those Steel Trees are sacred.
Mr. Philman said, “I had to climb inside (of the steel on his truck). It was like I was lying in a chimney, the burnt smell. After all this time you could steel smell it.”
You can see a video with Mr. Philman here:
Coatesville was the end of the Steel Tree’s journey, but last Wednesday is just the beginning for a monument in the City of Coatesville for those that died in the World Trade Center, the First Responders and the people that made them.
When you stand in Memorial Park in Coatesville and look east you see Downtown Coatesville.
When you look west, you see the Steel Company that once was and still is one of the largest suppliers of specialized steel plates and armor plate steel in the world.
Memorial Park is just a short walk to the place where, in 1810, Jesse Coates and ironmaster Isaac Pennock built the Steel Company on Moses Coates farm that became Lukens Steel.