Thursday, May 5, 2011

Carrie Furnace Tours Coming

Pittsburgh' steel making past is well known. There was a time not too long ago where steel mills lined the city's Monongahela River, from the flats of the South Side (now the nightlife center of the region) all the way up the river into West Virginia. Nearly all of these mills are gone now (U.S. Steel's Edgar Thompson Works, Irvin Works and Clairton Coke Works stand as exceptions) -- not only not functioning but also torn down. Thus an important part of the fabric of the region's history has been torn away and can never be replaced.

What does remain is the Carrie Furnace, in Rankin, just a few miles up the Monongahela from the City of Pittsburgh. The Carrie Furnace was a blast furnace facility, and was once part of U.S. Steel's famed Homestead Works (Rankin is across the river from Homestead). It was opened in 1907 and closed in the late 1970's. It produced iron for use in the steel making process at the Homestead plant across the river. Saved from the wrecking ball for preservation purposes, the Carrie Furnace is now owned by the Rivers of Steel Heritage Corporation, which has plans to create a tour site. Although severely deteriorated, and sitting on a wide swath of flat land along the river bank. Rivers of Steel Marketing Director Sherris Moreira was kind enough to give me a tour of the facility, which is not now open to the public. It is an eerie experience, walking through the abandoned and rusting steel superstructure, but it does connect one with the region's history. Click here for Rivers of Steel's summary of the Carrie Furnace's history.

It is Rivers of Steel's hope that the Carrie Furnace can be developed into a tourist destination, so that people can see and experience life in a steel mill. Hard hat tours are starting at the beginning of May on selected Saturdays; we're planning on putting together an overnight package with Rivers of Steel to include the Carrie Furnace tour. Keep your eyes open for it. In the meantime, click here for more information concerning hard hat tours.

Look for my photos from my Carrie Furnace visit in a future post.

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