Sunday, July 25, 2010
The Rivers of Steel National Heritage area has taken control of Carrie Furnaces 6 and 7 and several acres of land around it with the hope of turning it into a “first day destination.” Rivers of Steel Director of Museum Collections and Archives, Ron Baraff says there is no better site to help tell the story of steel in the Mon Valley and its impact on the world. “These are the only non-operative blast furnaces in the Pittsburgh District to remain standing,” says Baraff. The 92-foot tall furnaces were constructed of 2.5-inch thick steel plate and lined with refractory brick. They have not been used for nearly 30 years and Baraff says they are in “rough shape.” The immediate plan is to clean up the site and stabilize it before allowing “Hard Hat” tours of the furnace beginning in August. Baraff has much bigger plans for the site. He hopes it will one day host a museum that not only tells visitors the story of how the furnace operated but also the history of innovation at the furnace and the history of the people who ran it and lived near it. The twin furnaces were built in 1907 and produced iron for the Homestead Works until 1978. These furnaces reached their peak production in the 1950s and 1960s when they were producing 1000 -1250 tons of iron a day. Baraff says this will be the focal point for the entire heritage area. He says it will take more than $100 million to fully develop the site. The hopes is to get the National Park Service to kick in a major portion of the funds with the rest coming from foundations, private donors and government entities. “This becomes that attraction that pulls people into the Mon Valley,” says Baraff, “it really allows for economic growth of the region.” The remainder of the 107-acre Homestead Works site is owned by Allegheny County, which plans to develop it into light industrial and residential. The land lies in Rankin and Swissvale and is just up river from Duck Hollow.