About the Heritage Area

Rivers of Steel National Heritage Area

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.

Created over eons, as water carved away layers of the Allegheny Plateau, southwestern Pennsylvania’s hilly topography was first traversed by native populations as they hunted and foraged. Over time, this land was settled initially by tribes and then by pioneering colonizers. Local economies grew and transformed. Colonial agriculture gave way to boatbuilding and river trade. Business shifted from commerce to industry, making use of the region’s natural resources for glassmaking, coal mining, and small-scale iron production, which laid the groundwork for the “Big Steel” era of the twentieth century. Industries waxed and waned—each innovating and building upon the one that preceded it—before evolving into today’s dynamic landscape.

Carrie Furnaces with Mon River in foreground

The Carrie Blast Furnaces National Historic Landmark

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.

It is managed by the Rivers of Steel Heritage Corporation, a nonprofit that works in partnership with the National Park Service and the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. Through these public-private partnerships, Rivers of Steel supports heritage tourism, creative placemaking, outdoor recreation, and community partnerships as means to foster economic redevelopment and enhance cultural engagement.

Rivers of Steel works with communities, small businesses and nonprofits throughout the region to showcase artistry and innovation of our region’s rich heritage.

The outside of the historic Bost Building and museum.

The Bost Building  |  Visitors’ Center for the Rivers of Steel National Heritage Area

Learn more about Rivers of Steel’s attractions

that showcase the artistry and innovation of our region’s rich heritage.