Located in Birmingham, Alabama Sloss Furnaces is open to the public to explore. It’s the only furnace built-in the twentieth century in the United States that is currently being preserved, and has the honor of being a National Historic Landmark. The site is massive, I could have happily spent an entire day wandering around the structures. The machinery towered over us, and seemed to stretch for miles. Roughly forty building are a part of the site that produced pig iron for almost ninety years. Several times I got turned around and lost the exits in some of the buildings. Not necessarily a bad thing, unless you’re carrying a toddler.
Colonel James Withers Sloss began construction in June of 1881. April of 1882 the furnaces were put into blast. The original furnaces were built by Whitwell Stoves and were sixty feet tall with an eighteen foot diameter. An incredible accomplishment considering the machinery that would have been available to the workers. The furnaces were rebuilt in 1927-1928 with two 400 ton furnaces.
It took a lot of dangerous work to produce pig iron, and the never-ending need for manual labor. From 1882 until 1928 most of the lower level jobs were supplied by labor gangs, majority of the convicts used were African-American men. Higher paying jobs went to local white men. Segregation continued until the 1960s. The furnaces were shut down in 1970 and reopened in September 1983 as a museum.
Is it haunted?
Many claims have been made that claim Sloss Furnaces are haunted by several men. In the roughly ninety years of operation its estimated that sixty deaths have occurred. Several of the popular ghost stories that are circulating around the internet are false. The only definite answer I can give you is that I didn’t get to see any ghosts.
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