The Rivers of Steel National Heritage Area celebrates the region’s industrial history, the landscape that fueled it, and the hardworking men and women who made it possible, linking its communities through their shared cultural and industrial heritage.
Rivers of Steel National
The eight-county region represents the Pittsburgh Industrial District and includes Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Fayette, Greene, Washington, and Westmoreland Counties in southwestern Pennsylvania. It is one of 62 designated National Heritage Areas and one of 12 State Heritage Areas.
About the Heritage Area
A National Heritage Area is a place of significance to America, highlighting an important period of history in the development of the United States. For Rivers of Steel, Congress recognized the industrial and cultural heritage of southwestern Pennsylvania.
The Role of a National Heritage Area
National Heritage Areas are designated by Congress as places where natural, cultural, and historic resources combine to form a cohesive, nationally important landscape. Through their resources, Heritage Areas tell nationally important stories that celebrate our nation’s diverse heritage.
National Heritage Areas have a grassroots, community-driven approach to heritage conservation and economic development. Through public-private partnerships, National Heritage Areas support historic preservation, natural resource conservation, recreation, heritage tourism, and educational projects. Through their work, they create a pride of place and an enduring stewardship ethic.
How Rivers of Steel Achieves This
Rivers of Steel was created in the aftermath of the collapsed steel industry of the 1980s. In addition to telling the nationally important stories of the region’s workers and their accomplishments, we work to advance the communities who were forced to transition to a new economy.
As both a National and a State Heritage Area, we do this by supporting heritage development, creative placemaking, outdoor recreation, and community partnerships as means to foster economic redevelopment and enhance cultural engagement.
Check out the programs on this page to see the some of the ways in which we work to support our communities.
Explore the Heritage Area
There’s many ways to explore the Rivers of Steel National Heritage Area! Rivers of Steel regularly offers themed driving itineraries via our blog, authored by Brianna Horan, our manager of tourism and visitor experience. Check out these Routes to Roots articles here.
Photo courtesy of Kayak Pittsburgh.
Rivers of Steel will soon announce the recipients of its Mini-Grant program, which assists heritage-related sites and organizations, as well as municipalities, within the borders of the Rivers of Steel National Heritage Area. The Mini-Grants may be used to develop new and innovative programs, partnerships, exhibits, tours, and other initiatives.
Through the of preservation and promotion of our own heritage sites and by attracting visitors to the Heritage Area at large, Rivers of Steel’s heritage tourism programs showcase our region’s rich cultural and industrial legacy while creating a profound impact on the local economy.
Rivers of Steel recognizes the power of the arts to engage and inspire. In recent years, we have invested in a variety arts-based initiatives that have been designed to expand our stakeholders’ relationship with the post-industrial spaces that surround us—and the results have been transformative.
After the decline of the steel-making in southwestern Pennsylvania, Rivers of Steel worked to restore, protect, and enhance the land and water resources of the region. Building trails along riverfronts and old railroad corridors and constructing river landings has allowed the Heritage Area to capitalize on the wealth of natural resources this region offers to residents and visitors.
Community partnerships are fundamental to how Rivers of Steel operates. Through community grantmaking and programmatic collaborations, Rivers of Steel amplifies the impact of its heritage development efforts.