From 1875 to 1980, southwestern Pennsylvania was the Steel Making Capital of the World, producing the steel for some of America's greatest icons such as the Brooklyn Bridge and the Empire State Building. During World War I and II, our steel workers carried a nation's defense on their backs, producing more steel, armor and armaments in a single year than entire countries. While many of the region's legendary mill sites have been dismantled, and it has been decades since the mills belched fire and smoke over Pittsburgh's skyline, the enormity of the region's steel-making contributions and its historical significance to the nation demand its story be told and its sites be preserved.
Created by Congress in 1996, the Rivers of Steel National Heritage Area is committed to preserving, interpreting, and managing the historic, cultural, and natural resources related to Big Steel and its related industries. Encompassing over 5,000 square miles in the eight counties of Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Greene, Fayette, Washington, and Westmoreland, Rivers of Steel is building on this area's remarkable transition from heavy industry to high technology and diversified services as well as bolstering the new regional economy by promoting tourism and economic development based on this region's historic industrial saga.
A multifaceted program, the Rivers of Steel National Heritage Area's mission includes: historic preservation, cultural conservation, education, recreation and resource development. Currently, the Heritage Area has bills in Congress to create the Homestead Works National Park. The proposed park would be located on 38 acres surrounding the Carrie Furnaces, the last of the giant blast furnaces from the Homestead Works, and the Pump House, site of the bloody 1892 Homestead Steel Strike.