A Preservation Story, 35 Years in the Making
2022 Marked a Significant Turning Point in Rivers of Steel’s Journey
Setting Out to Save Carrie
When Rivers of Steel’s founders set out to save the Carrie Blast Furnaces in the late 1980s, they knew there would be challenges ahead, but they likely didn’t grasp the enormity of the task that would consume the then-burgeoning organization for the next thirty-five years.
But what those community advocates were sure of was that this iron mill—a place that literally built our nation and produced the arsenal of democracy that would save the world from tyranny—represented the very heart of southwestern Pennsylvania’s heritage. They knew that with each steel plant that closed and with every former steelworker who left to live and work outside the region, the hard-working culture that built the 20th century was fading into memory.
Progress along the Way
Since its inception, Rivers of Steel has helped to share this historical legacy, through our archives, oral histories, research, and interpretive exhibits. And as we have moved forward, we have also worked to help rebuild communities from the ground up. At times, we built trails and redeveloped brownfields. More recently, our efforts have included supporting the creative economy and community collaborations. All the while, we were pioneering what is now known as heritage tourism.
Throughout those thirty-five years, the preservation of the Carrie Blast Furnaces mirrored each of those efforts. But first, critical parts of the site had to be saved from the wrecking ball and National Historic Landmark status needed to be secured. Even now, ongoing preservation efforts are required to keep grounds safe and the structures standing as we work to conserve and stabilize the site for future visitors.
Redevelopment of the Carrie Furnaces Site
Each step of the way, we have been working in concert with our community partners in Rankin, Swissvale, Braddock, and North Braddock, along with the Redevelopment Authority of Allegheny County, and now, RIDC on the preservation and redevelopment of the land that surrounds our historic site. Ground has finally broken—and with that, we are on the precipice of a new era.
We have a vision. Exciting things are on the horizon. Your support today will help us reach the next step. After all, you—citizens of this region and friends of industrial heritage preservation—have been with us from day one, and with each advancing step, we find more and more support to move us forward. Thank you for joining us on this exciting journey.