The Steelworks Center of the West mission is to provide continuing education to the public through the preservation of historic archives, artifacts and buildings of the Colorado Fuel and Iron Company (CF&I), and related activities leading to the industrialization of the entire Western United States.
We are located in the historic CF&I Administrative Offices in the heart of the Bessemer Neighborhood, in Pueblo, Colorado. Together with the City and County of Pueblo, the Bessemer Association of Neighborhood Development (B.A.N.D.), and NeighborWorks® of Pueblo we are working to revitalize this unique neighborhood.
The Bessemer Historical Society was formed in the summer of 2000 to provide permanent care for the archival collection, artifacts and historic buildings of the Colorado Fuel and Iron Company (CF&I). A concerned group of citizens realized the danger of losing the Minnequa Works Office Complex, and the CF&I archival collections, to irreparable damage from neglect and lack of adequate preservation measures, or to the potential for the collections to be donated to a distant repository. In June, 2000, these community members, in collaboration with representatives from the City of Pueblo, the County of Pueblo, and the State of Colorado, created the Bessemer Historical Society (BHS), a 501(c)(3) organization, to preserve the buildings and documentary remains of CF&I.
In 2001, after raising $1.7 million, BHS purchased the historic administrative building complex and surrounding 5.7 acres of land from Oregon Steel Mills, the owners of the mill at that time. Oregon Steel officially donated the archival collection to BHS a year later. With tremendous support from the Southern Colorado community, and beyond, BHS has accomplished many goals. After the building complex was purchased and stabilized, it was listed on the National Park Service’s National Register of Historic Places, at the national level of significance. With an initial Save America’s Treasures grant, in 2003, followed by three successive grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, nearly 6000 cubic feet of paper records have been processed, most at a very basic level, and made available for public use. In addition, nearly 100,000 photographs, over 30,000 maps and drawings, 1,200 rolls of microfilm, thousands of financial ledgers, and 228 historic 16mm films have been preserved and made accessible at basic levels.
The Steelworks Museum was opened in 2007 and serves as the interpretive center for CF&I history. The Steelworks Center of the West was established in 2014 to integrate all of our museum, archives and education programs.
We host a variety of activities to involve our members, students, scholars and the general public in the preservation and interpretation of the rich history of the Industrial West:
Museum Tours: Discounts apply for groups making reservations in advance. Tours normally last 1-2 hours and can be tailor-made to fit your group’s interests. Call the museum at 719-564-9086 x 108 to make reservations.
Speaker Series: We host a variety of lecture programs with scholars, past mill or mine workers, or media personalities. Current Speakers are updated as they approach.
Archives Tours: These behind the scenes tours give an in-depth look at the current progress to process and preserve the Steelworks Archives. These tours are guided by our professional archives staff and are conducted by special arrangement. Call the museum at 719-564-9086 x 108 to make reservations.
Special Events: We host a variety of special events, including New Exhibits Receptions, Coal Camp Tours and our signature events, FACES if CF&I and Saints ‘n Sinners, a tour of historic churches and taverns. Events are updated as they approach.