NEWSLETTER - February 2015

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Rivers of Steel National Heritage Area was reauthorized by the U.S. Senate, extending its legislative authority through 2021. As stewards of our region's evolution from colonial settlement to "Big Steel" to our modern era, Rivers of Steel conserves, interprets and develops historical, cultural and recreational resources throughout eight counties of western Pennsylvania. 


Carrie Blast Furnaces No. 6 and 7, Rankin/Swissvale, PA                Photo by Sharon Brown

It is a great privilege to enable the preservation of the story of our nation through historic landmarks such as the Carrie Blast Furnaces, Pinkerton's Landing, the former US Steel Homestead Works Pump House site and the W. A. Young and Sons Foundry and Machine Shop. It is also our responsibility to link our colonial and industrial heritage to the present and future economic and cultural life of the region and the communities we serve. 


Through this reaffirmation, Rivers of Steel can continue to foster and promote resource conservation and development, heritage tourism, cultural and educational programs, economic revitalization and preserve key landmarks of our historic industrial heartland in partnership with hundreds of local communities in the greater Pittsburgh area, and along the Monongahela, Allegheny and Ohio River valleys. 

W. A. Young and Sons Foundry and Machine Shop, Rices Landing, PA        Photo by Sharon Brown

The passage of the National Defense Authorization Act, which contained language reauthorizing Rivers of Steel and several other National Heritage Areas (NHAs), was critical to the continued work of the Rivers of Steel in southwestern Pennsylvania. Senator Bob Casey, whose legislation to reauthorize Rivers of Steel in the package, spearheaded the effort. The U.S. House of Representative passed similar legislation last week, and the bill now goes to President Obama for his signature. We are honored by this support and that of our patrons, collaborators, partners, visitors and volunteers that ensure the continuation of these valuable assets to our region and nation. 


Photo by Rick Rowlands
Despite temperatures in the teens, new and exciting additions continue at our landmark sites. Braving January's snow, a bucket and skip car were transported from the former
Duquesne Works site to the
Carrie Furnaces in Rankin/Swissvale.


The 15-ton capacity bucket was built by Blaw-Knox and will be installed permanently in the ore yard. The Neeland skip car, the last physical remnant of the Duquesne Works No. 1 Furnace, will be placed in the ore yard near our existing skip hoist to provide visitors to the site an up-close and personal look at these important artifacts. 


Beginning in 1886 as a state-of-the-art Bessemer steel rail mill on the banks of the Monongahela River across from McKeesport and the National Tube Works, the Duquesne Works' use of the "direct" process for rolling rails, 

Photo by Rick Rowlands
quickly led to the addition of a twelve-furnace open hearth steel plant. Each furnace was capable of pouring out fifty-ton heats of steel up to three times each day. The Duquesne Works closed in May of 1984.

The Duquesne Works No. 1 Furnace was the first blast furnace built in the United States to utilize a skip hoist as well as the traditional ore yard-high line-skip hoist method of material handling. We are proud to be providing a permanent home for these outstanding elements of the iron industry and appreciate the assistance of the RIDC (Regional Industrial Development Corporation), Century Steel and Rick Rowlands of the Youngstown Steel Heritage Foundation.


The skip car and bucket are just a few of the many new additions to the Carrie Furnaces, increasing your opportunities to explore our heritage sites in 2015.


Announcing the 2015 RIVERS of STEEL FESTIVALS 
  pump house

Rivers of Steel is excited to announce the
Rivers of Steel Festival to be held at the historic
Pump House Site in the Waterfront on May 17 and September 20 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The festival will highlight the region's rich ethnic, cultural, and folk traditions, new and old. 

pump house
As part of this event, there will be the opportunity to conduct a workshop, demonstrate your craft, promote your efforts, and sell your wares. All participants must have an informational or demonstration element to their booth/program.  

Space is limited, only advanced applications accepted!

Applications available through this LINK.
FROM the CARRIE FURNACES: Art in Steel Valley


From the earliest days of travel postcards to the present exploration by Rivers of Steel Photo Safaris, the stark architectural beauty of the The Homestead Works has inspired generations of artists. Today, the combination of the height of our industrial history with this monolithic post-industrial canvas enables creative use of the site, conversation and preservation exploration as well as a wide range of innovative installations and events for communities and organizations.    


The Sprout Fund is one of Pittsburgh's leading agencies supporting innovative ideas, catalyzing community change, and making our region a better place to live, work, play and raise a family. As a supporter of projects sharing the story of the Carrie Furnaces and providing new opportunities for artistic expression and site-specific art, the Sprout Fund created a compilation video of recently funded projects involving the Carrie Furnaces site. 


Included in the video are behind-the-scenes looks at a few of the remarkable 2014 projects:

Photo courtesy of Alloy Pittsburgh


Alloy Pittsburgh's unique visual and performing arts projects in partnership with Rivers of Steel National Heritage Area and the Kipp Gallery at Indiana University of Pennsylvania provided 15 artists the opportunity to explore and interpret the site in new ways. 




 Photo by Sharon Brown


The Carrie Deer Project, funded in partnership with  Rivers of Steel National Heritage Area, Glyph Inc., and Awesome Pittsburgh, provided area high school students an in-depth site exploration and workshop for creating their own salvage art sculpture from recycled site materials, permanent installation of signage detailing the sculpture's creation and the first documentary of the sculpture's creation.



Photo by Ron Baraff

The Iron Garden Walk, a collaboration of Rivers of Steel National Heritage Area and the Penn State Master Gardeners, highlights the living ecosystem of the Carrie Furnaces through their comprehensive plant survey on sustainability and living laboratories for the site. An interpretive ecological walk through a portion of the site was then developed through the project. 



View the Sprout Fund video here. 




carrie tour
Have you or your family members worked in the Pittsburgh Steel mills, shared stories of the days of BIG STEEL or have a strong connection to the steel industry? Consider becoming a docent at Rivers of Steel's historic sites and share your history, heritage and stories with our visitors.

Rivers of Steel
is looking for docents  for the 2015 tour season who have a connection to Pittsburgh's steel industry and/or heritage. Docents will be asked to share their own steel-related stories as they lead tours and interpret our region's industrial history at the National Historic Landmark Carrie Blast Furnaces, the Bost Building, and the Pump House.

Interested individuals should contact Angie Morini at or  412-464-4020 ext. 31 for information.


VOLUNTEER Opportunities at Carrie Furnaces
Pictured left to right: Frank Reed, Chairman of the Board; Keith Clouse; Augie Carlino, President and CEO;               and Eric Horgos.

Sharing the dynamic story of our region's industrial and cultural life throughout the year is in no small part made possible by our generous volunteers.

Rivers of Steel
recently awarded our 2014 Volunteers of the Year  to Keith Clouse and Eric Horgos and extend our deepest appreciation for the generosity of all our volunteers that continue to assist us in maintaining and sharing the valuable historic landmarks and programs of Rivers of Steel National Heritage Area.

A new year brings new challenges  and we invite you to join us in ensuring this powerful story continues into the future. Rivers of Steel is always looking for hard workers who are not afraid of getting their hands dirty or working up a little sweat to help tackle our work list at the Carrie Furnaces!

Volunteers are needed at the Carrie Furnaces site to assist with:

*  mowing

*  painting 

*  general maintenance

*  brush removal

*  clearing trees and filling holes

*  assisting with structural repairs

*  cleaning up the interior and exterior of buildings and structures

carrie volunteers
If you are interested in volunteering at the historic Carrie Furnaces site, please contact Angie Morini at or 412-464-4020 ext. 31  for additional information.


Call for Proposals

Alloy Pittsburgh is a unique visual and performing arts initiative developed for the Carrie Furnaces National Historic Landmark and administered by Kipp Gallery at Indiana University of Pennsylvania in collaboration with the Rivers of Steel National Heritage Area


The project is designed to offer regional artists a career--building exhibition experience. The project will bring up to 15 visual and performing artists to the Carrie Furnaces site and provide them with funding, publicity and support to develop temporary site--based artworks. The completed artworks will be simultaneously presented in a one of a kind art event to be held at the site in the fall of 2015.





The Rivers of Steel Archives are open to the public for research (by appointment only) Monday-Friday from 9:30 AM to 5:00 PM.  

Research materials are available in the form of books, articles, audiovisual recordings, and archival material covering the steel and related industries, labor/unions, capital/industrialists and ethnic and cultural groups in Southwestern Pennsylvania as well as resources from across the nation.  

To make a research appointment, please call the Archives at 412-464-4020 Ext. 21, or search the collection online.
This month's archival photo:  From the Meyers/URR Collection - clearing snow from the tracks and switcher of the rail lines.

A RUST BELT Culinary Tour

In the early 1900s, The Steel Valley of Homestead, Munhall, and Braddock was home to immigrants from around the globe. These thriving towns, once dotted with retail shops, bakeries, backdoor gardens and many a beer hall, fell silent in the '80s when the mills closed, but now are a part of the Pittsburgh-area renaissance. The tour was created by Mary Miller owner of  The Fork and the Road, a regional culinary tour company, with shuttling provided by Pittsburgh Tours & More, a division of the Pittsburgh Transportation Group in collaboration with the Rivers of Steel National Heritage Area.

Shake the winter chill visiting a renovated church hall, a modernized mill bar, and other revamped treasures of the still gritty mill towns to savor culinary delights that reflect the region's rich heritage as well as its now trendy rustbelt cuisine! Each 4-hour shuttled culinary tour, scheduled from 10AM to 2PM, provides more than enough food for a meal plus other surprises.

Next TOUR DATES: February 21, March 14 and March 28


"We can be thankful for the Rivers of Steel organization keeping the Carrie Furnaces in Rankin and the old Pump House at Homestead available for tours and..."


"Young Pennsylvanians interested in pursuing environmental careers are invited to apply by April 15 for the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources' summer residential camp..." 


 Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources release - February 5, 2015

donate now 
Your donation to the Rivers of Steel National Heritage Area supports the projects and programs that preserve Southwestern Pennsylvania's rich industrial and cultural heritage for future generations.
As a MEMBER of  Rivers of Steel National Heritage Area, you can make a difference in preserving our cultural heritage, natural resources, recreational amenities and assist in economic development of our region. Membership benefits also include: 

*   10% discount in the gift shop 

*   FREE exhibit admission

*    INVITATIONS to members-only events and programming

*   2 COMPLIMENTARY TICKETS  to our Carrie Furnaces Tour


Thank you for supporting the efforts of Rivers of Steel National Heritage Area!