Friday, December 2, 2022

Sloss Furnaces National Historic Landmark

James Withers Sloss chose Birmingham, Alabama for the location of his furnace company because all of the ingredients needed to make pig iron -  deposits of iron ore, coal, and limestone - were nearby. Twenty years later, in the early 1900s, three more large iron and steel companies built in close proximity to the city and Birmingham's rapid growth earned it the nickname The Magic City. But by the 1970s the large mills were shutting down because stringent air-quality requirements, foreign competition, and aging infrastructure made operations economically unfeasible. 
Sloss Furnaces shut down in 1970 so the fact that it is still in intact and open to visitors is remarkable. It operated for 91 years and underwent an extensive renovation between 1927 and 1931. Most of the buildings and machinery are from this time period and have been stabilized for safety. All visitors must stay on the paths and behind the yellow handrails. Even with these restrictions, it still feels like you have free run of the area - a cool place to visit! The only building off limits is No. 2 Cast Shed which houses the Sloss Metal Art Program. A self-guided tour map is available at the visitor center. A small exhibit about the iron and steel industry is located in the visitor center. 
Sloss Furnaces is partly accessible.The paths are a combination of concrete, gravel, and iron grid. The are several sets of stairs so we did miss some stuff. Following the map was a little confusing because we couldn't go up or down the stairs as shown. Steep ramps and the uneven meeting of the different surfaces could make navigating difficult without assistance.
RVs will fit in the lot if parked across the spaces. Furance  33.5191, -86.79418