More than any other entity, the Homestead Steel Works marked western Pennsylvania as the
Steel-Making Capital of the
World. For more than a century, the Homestead Works dominated an industry and defined a community.
Built in 1881 by a handful of businessmen eager to cash
in on the industrial boom, the Homestead Works began flour-
ishing after Andrew Carnegie purchased it in 1883.

Its history is both infamous and celebrated. It was the site of one of the nation’s most dramatic and deadly labor conflicts, and until it shut down in 1986, it was also one of the world’s largest steel mills and the flagship plant for U. S. Steel. With facilities on both sides of the Monongahela River, the Home-stead Works encompassed 430 acres and employed more than 200,000 workers through the years.

Carrie Furnaces 6 and 7 were once part of a bank of blast furnaces used to smelt iron for rolling mills across the river. Today they loom above the Monongahela like iron dinosaurs. These fossil furnaces are rare artifacts of America’s industrial history. No complete furnace plants from this period still exist in the United States, and all other non-operative blast furnaces in the Pittsburgh area have been long since
torn down.

Measuring 92 feet tall, the Carrie Furnaces’ shells were constructed of 2.5-inch-thick steel plate, and lined with refractory brick to withstand more than 3,500o F. When a furnace was fired up, it began a “campaign” that con-tinued 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for an average of six to seven years. When the Carrie Furnaces were taken off line in 1978, they were producing approximately 2,500 tons of iron a day.