Skip to main content


A yellow sunset softly illuminates the stack and stoves of the Carrie Furnaces with an Ore Bridge spanning the foreground of the image.

Catch Up with Rivers of Steel

By Newsletters

Rivers of Steel Recent Newsletters

You can stay up to date with all the fresh news and stories from Rivers of Steel when you sign up for our biweekly newsletter.  Just enter your email in the “Get the Latest” section at the footer of this page.  If you want to check out examples of recent newsletters or see what you missed, follow the links below.

April 20: Tours Galore!
To review newsletters from 2023, click here.
A yellow sunset softly illuminates the stack and stoves of the Carrie Furnaces with an Ore Bridge spanning the foreground of the image.

Catch Up with Rivers of Steel

By Newsletters

Rivers of Steel Recent Newsletters

You can stay up to date with all the fresh news and stories from Rivers of Steel when you sign up for our biweekly newsletter.  Just enter your email in the “Get the Latest” section at the footer of this page.  If you want to check out examples of recent newsletters or see what you missed, follow the links below.

June 3: Ironbound
April 22: Honor What Was
March 11: Who was Carrie?
To review newsletters from 2022, click here.
A yellow sunset softly illuminates the stack and stoves of the Carrie Furnaces with an Ore Bridge spanning the foreground of the image.

Catch Up with Rivers of Steel

By Newsletters

Rivers of Steel Recent Newsletters

You can stay up to date with all the fresh news and stories from Rivers of Steel when you sign up for our biweekly newsletter.  Just enter your email in the “Get the Latest” section at the footer of this page.  If you want to check out examples of recent newsletters or see what you missed, follow the links below.

December 17: Coming Together
October 22: With Gratitude
April 23: Tours & Trails
February 26: Breaking Barriers
To review newsletters from 2021, click here.

Catch Up with Rivers of Steel

By Newsletters

Rivers of Steel Recent Newsletters

You can stay up to date with all the fresh news and stories from Rivers of Steel when you sign up for our biweekly newsletter.  Just enter your email in the “Get the Latest” section at the footer of this page.  If you want to check out examples of recent newsletters or see what you missed, follow the links below.

December 18 Newsletter: Making Spirits Bright
September 25 Newsletter: Rivers of Steel is…
September 11 Newsletter: Looking Back & Looking Ahead
July 31 Newsletter: Aluminum in a Steel World
May 15 Newsletter: Profiles in Steel
April 17 Newsletter: Getting the Word Out…
April 3 Newsletter: Filming Pittsburgh
March 27 Announcement: The Carrie Carpool Cinema is back!
February 23 Educator Email: More Virtual Education Programs
February 6 Newsletter: Six more weeks of winter? 
A young girl holding a sign that reads "amazing."

May 2, 2020 eNewsletter – A Legacy of Grit and Giving

By Newsletters

Giving Tuesday Now | May 5, 2020

Dear Friend of Rivers of Steel—

For thirty years, Rivers of Steel has been investing in our region’s communities. Our mission, in short, is heritage conservation and development that helps revitalize our communities—through heritage tourism, creative placemaking, community education and collaboration, and outdoor recreation.

The impact of our work is both broad and deep.

Throughout southwestern Pennsylvania, every dollar that we invest in the heritage of our communities has a return of at least five dollars. Through Rivers of Steel’s partnerships with other nonprofits, we are able to provide support with grant funding where our goals align. And through collaborative programming, we are able to amplify our combined reach. On the individual level, the tour guides, educators, and artists that we work with carry our stories and craft traditions to others, helping visitors and locals gain a greater sense of place—an understanding of our region’s legacy.

Rivers of Steel was born out of an economic crisis a generation ago. When the mills and mines closed and our communities needed help rebuilding, we found innovative ways to tell their stories, build up their main streets, transform landscapes from brownfields to recreational green space, and—perhaps most importantly—change perspectives about our communities and their future possibilities.

As we write this appeal for donations, we face a similar economic crisis resulting from a very different situation. We understand now is a time when many cannot afford to give, or that, as a donor, you may have other priorities. We understand. However, we also know that many still can donate. If that is you, please join me in supporting Rivers of Steel on May 5 for Giving Tuesday Now.

This special day of giving will provide critical support to organizations across the United States. Locally, your support of Rivers of Steel will, in turn, help us as we help others by continuing to support our region’s communities.

Moreover, your gift will be doubled. Rivers of Steel’s staff and Board of Directors are committed to matching each gift received on May 5, up to $5,000 .

And because the need in our communities is both staggering and unprecedented, we are taking this appeal one step further. So, in addition to the matched funds, your gift will do even more. In the name of Rivers of Steel, I will personally donate an amount equal to 10%, or up to $1,000, of what Rivers of Steel receives during this Giving Tuesday Now event to the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank. We are all in this together!

As neighbors in southwestern Pennsylvania, we look out for one another and are as giving as we are hardworking. Many of us can remember the days in the late-1970s and 1980s when we all faced hard times but we all came together. Today, a similar challenge is before us. If you can give, but can only support one organization, we ask that you choose one that provides food, safety, shelter, medical or health support to those with the greatest needs. If you can give more, we hope you will also consider Rivers of Steel. Times may be hard right now, but we will endure with support from one another.

Thank you, and please be safe!


August R. Carlino
President and Chief Executive Officer
Rivers of Steel Heritage Corporation


Archival image of workers changing shifts at Homestead Steel Works

Spotlight on National History Day

By Newsletters

Rivers of Steel Locally Supports National History Day Competition for Students

National History Day is a non-profit education organization based in College Park, Maryland.   Each year a theme is selected and more than a half million students from around the world research a topic of their choosing and create projects that illustrate that theme.  The 2020 competition theme is Breaking Barriers in History.  Middle school and high schools students may select a project submission format from the following categories: website, documentary, exhibit, performance, and historical papers.  Projects are created by individuals or as a group project.  Students are encouraged to utilize and interpret primary and secondary sources to support their thesis statement as it fits with the annual theme.

The process of creating a National History Day submission encourages students to critically think about historical events.  Students must utilize research and reading skills to convey analysis of their research topic.  Through the evolution of their projects, students gain a more in-depth understanding that historical events are influenced by many variables.

Heinz History Center facilitates the local competition and serves students from Allegheny, Washington, Greene Fayette, Westmoreland, and Somerset counties.  This year’s competition included additional challenges with the need to shift the judging rounds to an online format.  The local competition judging wrapped up last week and the judging decisions are listed here:

Local competition winners receive constructive feedback from volunteer judges and have the opportunity to edit their project prior to the state competition.  This year’s state competition will also be judged via a virtual format and is set to take place in May.

National History Day is the perfect opportunity for students to utilize archival resources available at historical societies, libraries, museums, and universities.  Many of the archival pieces can be accessed in an online format and often include unique information such as personal letters, oral histories, and private collection photographs.

Rivers of Steel invites students to utilize our collection, whether it be for National History Day or for other research endeavors.  Highlights from our collection includes information on the following:

  • The 1892 Battle of Homestead
  • 1877 Great Railroad Strike (Pittsburgh, PA)
  • 1909 Pressed Steel Car Strike (McKee’s Rocks, PA)
  • The Steel Strike of 1919 (The Hunkie Strike)
  • The Little Steel Strike of 1937
  • Social , health & welfare, and assimilation issues during industrialization
  • Closure of mills and worker displacement

To search Rivers of Steel’s online collection:

For more information on National History Day

To learn more about volunteering next year as a judge for the local competition:

Rivers of Steel Round logo

Rivers of Steel Closed Through 4/30

By Newsletters

In compliance with Governor Wolf’s mandatory shutdown of non-essential businesses, Rivers of Steel will be closed at least through April 30  Any and all programs during this time are considered cancelled and public access to all five sites—including the Bost Building, Pump House, Carrie Blast Furnaces, the Explorer Riverboat, and the W.A. Young & Sons Foundry and Machine Shop—is prohibited. If you have specific concerns about a program or project, contact the appropriate staff person by email or phone.  Additionally, the Annual Hammer-In Festival at the Machine Shop on April 18 is cancelled. Stay tuned for further updates as the situation evolves.  Thank you for your interest in and support of Rivers of Steel. We value our community and hope that you are all doing what you can to take care of yourself and your loved ones.

Angela Biederman's Untitled Bottle Car during the Alloy Pittsburgh 2018 opening reception.

Community Collaborations Attract National Attention

By Newsletters

Community partnerships have always been one of Rivers of Steel’s core values. In fact, it’s the primary way Rivers of Steel works to showcase our region’s assets, tell its stories, and foster economic redevelopment. That’s why we’re so excited to share news of two recent collaborations that have a stamp of approval from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA)!

For Educators

National Endowment for the Humanities-funded Workshop

July 12 – 18 and July 19 – 25, 2020

Through a partnership with the Archives & Special Collections Department at the University of Pittsburgh, Rivers of Steel is offering an NEH-funded Landmarks of American History and Culture Workshop entitled The Homestead Strike & the Growth of America as an Industrial Power.

Educators from across the country can apply to attend one of two occurrences of this workshop in July of 2020. Selected recipients will receive a travel stipend and will be treated to a host of scholarly discussions from local and national authors and experts on the topic.
Immersive Workshop Info
Detail photo of Katie Rearick's installation entitled remediation for alloy pittsburgh 2018

Detail photo of Katie Rearick’s installation entitled Remediation for Alloy Pittsburgh 2018

For Artists

National Endowment for the Arts-funded Residency

Alloy Pittsburgh, Summer 2020

We’re also excited to share that Rivers of Steel has been approved to receive a $35,000 Arts Works grant from the NEA to support the expansion of Alloy Pittsburgh 2020, a site-specific art exhibition at the Carrie Blast Furnaces.

With the funding from the Art Works grant, Alloy Pittsburgh 2020 will reach beyond the walls of the Carrie Blast Furnaces to place resident artists in the neighboring communities of Braddock, Hazelwood, Homestead, Rankin, and Swissvale—deepening the reach and the impact of the Alloy artists’ work in the Mon River Valley.

Check out this recent article by the National Park Service detailing Alloy Pittsburgh 2020 or read the press release about the Art Works grant.

Call for Educators & Artists

Apply to Participate

Deadlines are February 7 for Alloy Pittsburgh and March 1 for the NEH Workshop

It’s not too late to participate in these programs!

The deadline for artists to apply to Alloy Pittsburgh 2020 is approaching fast on February 7th, but the submission process is not daunting. Read the request for proposals here.
Teachers, librarians, museum educators, and the like are encouraged to apply here before March 1, 2020 for consideration of participation in the Homestead Steel Strike workshop.

Artist Application
Educator Application

Learn more about the events

such as tours, workshops, and festivals happening at each unique attraction.

Explorer at Sunset

6 Ways to Explore the Outdoors with Rivers of Steel this June

By Newsletters

Summer is officially here this Friday, and we’ve got some seriously amazing events lined up in the next two weeks that you don’t want to miss out on.

Twilight Soiree Riverboat Cruise

with Black Radish Kitchen & Kingfly Spirits

Friday, June 21, 7:30 – 9:30 pm or Friday, July 5, 7:30 – 9:30 pm

Pittsburgh’s illustrious skylines will set the stage for an elevated experience on the water when you step aboard Rivers of Steel’s green riverboat, the Explorer.

You’ll nosh on fare by Kate Romane’s Black Radish Kitchen and delight in a choice of specially-crafted cocktails by the city’s acclaimed new distillery, Kingfly Spirits.  All the while you’ll enjoy a special evening version of Rivers of Steel’s sightseeing cruise, PGH 101: An Intro to Innovation , discovering how the Burgh’s landscape, its wealth of natural resources, and the character of its residents have helped to shape the dynamic city it is today.

$65 per person. 21+ only. Ticket price includes an array of small plates, one cocktail, and the tour experience. Additional spirit-based drinks are available for purchase.

Soiree Info & Tickets
Golden Hour image of the Carrie Furnaces

Golden Hour at the Carrie Blast Furnaces

Sunset Safari at the Carrie Blast Furnaces

Open Photography Session

Sunday, June 23, 6:30 – 9:30 pm

Join Rivers of Steel Arts at dusk for a unique photo safari that explores the Carrie Furnaces in twilight.

Witness the beauty and subtlety of the site as only seen through half-light, and capture your own piece of the drama to take home. This safari is recommended for those with prior experience shooting low-light subject matter, but it is open to novice and experienced photographers alike.

Safari Info & Tickets
Biker on a trail with "The Great Ride" logo and copy that reads "A new documentary from WQED Pittsburgh"

WQED’s The Great Ride

WQED’s The Great Ride

Film Screening & Panel Discussion

Tuesday, June 25, 7:00 – 9:00 pm

Join Rivers of Steel for a screening of WQED ’s recent film The Great Ride, paired with a trails-based panel discussion and reception.

Take a virtual tour of the Great Allegheny Passage and C&O Canal Towpath trails! Before the screening of The Great Ride, join us for a reception and thoughtful discussion about the role of the Great Allegheny Passage in our communities.

Panelists include the film’s producer Beth Dolinar , along with two of the folks featured in the film, Doug Riegner of the Allegheny Trail Alliance and Rachel Sager of The Ruins Project. Amy Camp , a noted trails and tourism consultant, placemaker, and a nature-based coach, will moderate the discussion.

More Info About the Great Ride
artist pour metal outside at touchstone center for craft campus

Metal Pour at Touchstone Center for Crafts

Bronze Casting Workshop

at Touchstone Center for Crafts

Wednesday – Friday, June 26 – 28, 9:00 am – 5:00 pm

Join Rivers of Steel Arts and Touchstone Center for Crafts for a three-day bronze-casting workshop in the beautiful Laurel Highlands!

Participants will work with leading foundry artist, Ed Parrish, to build and transform your unique creations into solid bronze. Starting with the creation of a pattern from wax, oil clay, or other basic materials, you will go on to invest your pattern design in resin-bonded sand molds and work with the teaching artist to cast each object on the final day of the workshop.

This workshop is perfect for anyone looking for an unforgettable creative experience. All experience levels are welcome!

More Info This Workshop
Rick Darke in the Iron Garden

Rick Darke in the Iron Garden

Iron Garden Talk & Tours with Rick Darke

Special Events

Talk: Friday, June 28, 7:00 pm | Tours: Saturday, June 29, 9:30 am & 11:30 am

Join Rivers of Steel for a special evening presentation on the Carrie Blast Furnaces’ Iron Garden by renowned landscape design consultant, author, lecturer, and photographer Rick Darke on Friday, June 28. Then tour the garden with Rick the following morning!

Though postindustrial landscapes are often imagined to be ruins, these vibrant, regenerating places are surprisingly rich in history, ecology, and nuanced beauty. The Iron Garden re-imagines Carrie Furnaces’ landscape, employing editing techniques to create useful, innovative spaces. Using a mix of wildscapes from Berlin to the High Line for comparison, Rick Darke will illustrate in this evening talk how Rivers of Steel’s Addition by Reduction project provides a design and management model for urban parks and community places that celebrate the resiliency of the industrial landscape.
On Saturday morning, Rick Darke will lead two walking tours of the Iron Garden. Space is limited, so be sure to get these tickets in advance.
Tour Tickets
Bike in Rack parked at the Pump House

Bike at the Pump House

Golden Triangle Bikes X Rivers of Steel


Sunday, June 30, 9:00 am- 2:30 pm

Travel on a ride through the Steel Valley with lunch and tours of Carrie Blast Furnaces and the Pump House!

Spend a day with Rivers of Steel! Your ride with tour guide Eric Horgos will get to the heart of the steel town story sharing the stories of the people, places, and events that made Pittsburgh the steel-making capital of the world!

The day begins with a ride from Golden Triangle Bikes to the Pump House in Munhall, with stops along the way to give context to the “Hardest Working River in the World.” Here you’ll stop for a traditional immigrant-inspired catered lunch and a walk-through of the historic site. Next, you’ll travel by shuttle to the famous Carrie Blast Furnaces for an outdoor walking tour of this National Historic Landmark before being transported back to Golden Triangle Bikes.

More Bike Tour Info

Learn more about the events

such as tours, workshops, and festivals happening at each unique attraction.

LED light installation art by Ian Brill

April 2019 Enewsletter

By Newsletters

Rivers of Steel kicks off Homestead First Fridays with a new site-specific art installation at the Bost Building

This Friday night Homestead’s historic Eighth Avenue will light up like never before—literally.

To celebrate the inaugural Homestead First Fridays season, Rivers of Steel has commissioned a new site-specific LED installation by contemporary artist Ian Brill. The piece, entitled Aggregate, is installed in the exterior glass stairwell of the Bost Building at 623 East Eighth Avenue.

Rivers of Steel will flip on the switch at 8:00 p.m. on May 3 and invite the community to experience the piece from the street and from the interior, as they make their way to the third floor galleries to view the current archival exhibition, From the Vault.

Aggregate will be on display through mid-August and will be lit nightly.

Developed by Rivers of Steel in partnership with the local artists and businesses of Homestead, along with the borough, the Homestead First Fridays Arts and Entertainment Series offers visitors art exhibitions, make-and-take projects, nightly specials, artists’ studio tours, live music, and more.

“Ian’s installation will not only light up this end of Eighth Avenue, it truly gets at the heart of our vision for Homestead First Fridays,” said Rivers of Steel Arts Director Chris McGinnis. “Efforts of this scale require lots of people working together, as an aggregate of sorts. Rivers of Steel is lucky to work with a passionate group of stakeholders here in Homestead whose collective efforts join with this unique piece of public art to showcase our borough in a new light.”

Art events that evening include a pop-up exhibition by Associated Artists of Pittsburgh at 101 East Eighth Avenue, an exhibition of ceramic art at Eberle Studios, live music at Enix Brewing and Pip & Lola’s, and live painting at Honest Johns.

Rivers of Steel will also debut a street art style exhibition of site-specific murals in the former CVS building at 233 East Eighth Avenue.

Other happenings include live axe throwing, kids workshops, open studios and more. Homestead’s many restaurants, craft breweries, and unique retail shops will complement the arts experiences.

Homestead First Fridays opens Friday, May 3, 2019 from 6 to 10 p.m. along Homestead’s historic Eighth Avenue. The series runs until October 4.

Homestead First Fridays is a project of the Mon Valley Creative Corridor and is made possible with support of the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation.

For more information and for a schedule of events, visit the Facebook event for the series.

Mon Valley Creative Corridor

It’s safe to say, Pittsburgh has officially outgrown its reputation as a declining steel town. The art & restaurant scenes aside, the city is flourishing in large part because of its renewed investment in innovation—robotics, eds and meds, self-driving cars, and more.

Yet innovation is not something new for our region—it’s been a part of its evolution for centuries. Colonial agriculture gave way to boatbuilding and river trade before business shifted from commerce to industry, making use of the region’s natural resources for glassmaking, coal mining, small-scale iron production, and of course for Big Steel.

Innovation was inextricably linked to steel. Throughout the 20th century, communities across southwestern Pennsylvania’s Monongahela River Valley thrived in large part due to a robust network of synergistic community organizations and industrial enterprises stretching from the South Side of Pittsburgh to Rices Landing in Greene County and beyond.

This innovative heritage is worth celebrating, and Rivers of Steel is excited to launch its second season of the Mon Valley Creative Corridor to do just that. Mon Valley Creative Corridor programs are inspired by the region’s legacy of hard work, grit, and community spirit.

Throughout the summer, Mon Valley artists will be partnering with community stakeholders to host a variety of pop-ups and happenings, all of which celebrate creative inquiry by crafting opportunities to interpret the region’s past, reimagine its future, and explore a sense of place.

Launched in 2018 with support from the Benedum Foundation, the Creative Corridor was inspired by the robust interest in the arts that also defines our region. During its first year, events included pop-up exhibits, public talks, film projects, metal pours, and more.

The highlight of the second season is the introduction of the Homestead First Fridays Arts & Entertainment Series.

Other events include Hot Metal Happenings at various locations throughout the area, a mural unveiling in Ohiopyle, a video installation by Valery Lyman at the Carrie Furnaces in August and much, much more.

For a full schedule of events, Mon Valley Creative Corridor section of the Rivers of Steel Arts 2019 Schedule of Events.