Francine In Retirement
Seeing Life Through Photography



In early August my photography class, taken at the Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild and taught by Jill Wiggins, went on a tour and photo shoot at the Carrie Furnace in Rankin, Pennsylvania. The above video is the result of some photos I took there. I hope it gives you a visual look at this historical landmark that represents an era that is long gone.   

Looking across the Monongahela River you can see two monstrous structures soaring above the tree-lined bank. This is Carrie Furnace; or rather the remnants of Carrie Furnaces No. 6 and 7, which operated between 1907 and 1978, producing iron from ore, limestone and coke. At 92 feet tall, the furnaces and the huge ore bridge that moved the iron ore, limestone and coke to the skip cars where it was dumped into the tops of furnaces, are the most imposing structures. Next to the furnaces are banks of ovens that heated the compressed air that gave the furnaces their designation as blast furnaces.

Over its lifetime, Carrie Furnace was comprised of seven blast furnaces. In 1900, Furnace No. 3 set a record by producing 790 tons of iron in 24 hours. With improvements in technology, by the time they closed in 1978, Furnaces 6 and 7 could each produce over 1,200 ton of iron a day. The molten iron was poured into cigar-shaped hot metal cars and transported by rail over the appropriately named Hot Metal Bridge to the Homestead Works where it was turned into steel and formed into ingots for further finishing.

Carrie Furnace, although abandoned, was saved from destruction by Allegheny County, which purchased the 135-acre site from the developer for almost $6 million. The furnaces are still in disrepair, but are availabe for tours through the Rivers of Steel museum.


 The 45-by-35 foot Rankin Deer Head sculpture has been at Carrie Furnace for more than a decade and has become integrated into the landscape.  Six to eight main artist worked on the sculpture every Sunday throughout the course of a year from October 2007 to October 2008, with other helpers coming in for a day or two.

The sculpture was made from recycled materials found on the site such as steel tubing, steel structural metals, cooper wire and rubber hose.


 In a field of knee-high grass behind the hulking frame of what is left of Carrie Furnace — sit’s a rusted torpedo car.  The cylindrical container made of steel, together with hundreds more, was at one time an indispensable tool in the steel producing days of the Mon Valley. Back when massive steel factories still churned plumes of smoke over much of the region, torpedo cars didn’t sit rusting away.  They were used to treat and transport iron via a hot metal rail bridge that runs across half of the Carrie Furnace site in Rankin and Swissvale, over the Monongahela River, and into Homestead where it was made into steel.

I hoped you enjoyed these videos and learned a little about an industry that was linked so close to the history of Pittsburgh.



3 Responses to “TOUR CARRIE FURNACE”

  1. Great entry my friend 🙂

  2. […] Related Article: […]

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