The site of the Carrie Blast Furnaces is immense. Set alongside the Monongahela River, the two steel furnaces, tower at nearly 100 feet—totally eclipsing the site’s two football-field sized warehouses. Since its closing nearly 35 years ago, much of the machinery was stripped and sold for scrap, leaving a rusty skeleton. But it’s also become a welcoming habitat for wildlife.
You can find Ron Baraff, the Carrie Furnaces resident expert, on site most days, leading tours and leading the charge for its reinvention.
“There’s really nothing better than to be here early in the morning when there’s no one else around and it is so serene,” says Baraff. “And you almost forget that for 100 years this was that creature—that blast furnace that was producing all of this iron, that was consuming all of these raw materials, that was really stripping the earth.”
Baraff works with the Rivers of Steel National Heritage Area, the organization that owns the site. He’ll be the first to tell you about the awe-inspiring production that took place here between 1906 and 1979. At its peak, the workers turned out 1,000 tons of iron a day.