Carrie Blast Furnace
Located in Rankin, PA
Photo © 2005 Tom Kirsch, opacity.us
Carrie Blast Furnace History
In the town of Homestead P.A., just over the Pittsburgh city line, once stood the Homestead Steel Works (later Carnegie Steel, and lastly U.S. Steel), fed by rail lines and a fleet of steamships on the Monongahela River. Across the river sat the Carrie Furnaces, technically located in the town of Rankin. Built in 1907, these furnaces produced iron for Homestead for 72 years. These massive towers stood 92 feet tall, and produced 1,250 tons of iron a day during the years of peak production (1950s-1960s). The cooling system required over 5 million gallons of water from the river on a daily basis.
Due to the industry decline in steel produced in the United States, the furnaces went cold in 1978. The main steel works across the river closed in 1986, and most of it was cleared for The Waterfront shopping center and Sandcastle Waterpark. The Carrie site - 135 acres on the north shore of the river, surrounded by railroad tracks - was somewhat spared. Everything was torn down except for furnaces #6 and #7, the blowing engine house, cast house, car dumper and stock house.
The land was bought from U.S. Steel by the Parks Corps in 1988, with both parties agreeing to address environmental concerns (underground tanks, PCBs in the soil, etc). A partial cleanup was performed in 1994, removing fuel tanks and asbestos. In 1997, a group of artists snuck into the site every weekend to construct a 40 foot sculpture of a deer head, hidden from exterior view. Check out thecarriedeer.com for more details.
These are the only non-operative furnaces still standing in the Pittsburgh District. They were sold to Allegheny County in 2005 for $5.75 million, and given National Historic Landmark status in 2006. A $78 million rehabilitation is planned, which includes mixed use retail as well as stabilization and renovation to allow visitors to view the furnaces via series of walkways installed on site.
For more information and updates, visit riversofsteel.com.