The Smithsonian Museum is home to some of the most important artifacts in American history, including a piece of metal from Poughkeepsie.

No trip to Washington DC is complete without a stop at the Smithsonian. With 11 museums and galleries on the National Mall and six other museums around Washington DC, including the National Zoo, the Smithsonian Institute houses all of our nation's most prized treasures.

From the hat Abraham Lincoln wore when he was assassinated to Alexander Graham Bell's original telephone to an original copy of the Declaration of Independence, almost every important artifact of American history is preserved at the Smithsonian.

With so many important things to catalog from our history, it may seem strange that a piece of metal from Poughkeepsie is part of the Smithsonian collection, but there it is.

So the question remains; what is it?

This curious looking, circular piece of steel is actually a sealed bearing produced by the Schatz Bearing Company of Poughkeepsie. This particular sealed bearing was produced during the 1950s and was donated to the museum by the "Anti Friction Bearing Manufacturers Association" in 1977.

Sealed bearings were, and still are important to the manufacturing of aircraft and other mechanical items that are exposed to the elements. The ingenious design of the sealed bearing protects it from weather and moisture that could weaken its effectiveness.

This Schatz bearing is an important part of history and shows how important manufacturing was to the Hudson Valley area during the 50s. So it's no wonder that such an important part of our history is preserved at the Smithsonian.

Schatz Bearing Company started up in Poughkeepsie in 1895 and over a century later, is still operating on Fairfield Avenue. The company now produce bearings for everything from automobiles and jet airplanes to satellites and other aerospace equipment.