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Visit the Sloss Furnaces National Historic Landmark from anywhere in the world with our Virtual Tour! See and explore the major aspects of the site and learn about Birmingham's industrial history.

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Transcript

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Welcome to the Sloss Furnaces National Historic Landmark's Virtual Tour! We hope you find this a fun and educational experience. Click on any of the location buttons (grey location pins) on the map to learn more. On each page you will find aspects of the location to learn more, and the general information button at the top left corner of the location. Click on any of the see more buttons (blue eyes) to see a present day versus history photo comparison and learn more about the differences in the two photos you see. You can return to this page anytime by clicking the home button on the bottom of each location.

For more information, or if you have any comments or questions, please email Ty Malugani, Sloss Education Coordinator, at tyler.malugani@birminghamal.gov. Thanks!

Sloss Furnaces General Info:20 32nd Street NorthBirmingham, AL 35222205-254-2025www.slossfurnaces.com

About OUr Museum

Welcome to the Sloss Visitor Center! This is the first stop when you arrive at Sloss Furnaces National Historic Landmark. Built in 2015, this building offers education, event, and exhibit spaces as well as offices, restrooms, and a gift shop.

Welcome to Sloss Furnaces National Historic Landmark! Throughout this tour you will explore the people, places, and processes responsible for the development of the Birmingham Industrial District. However, the importance and history of the site did not end when the furnaces were shut down in 1971. It lives on through the museum and Sloss Metal Arts Program.Sloss Furnaces shut down in 1971 for several reasons, including pollution, old age, and a decreasing demand for pig iron (iron bars that were made at Sloss). Recognizing the importance of the site to Birmingham's history, the owners (Jim Walters Corporation) donated it to the Alabama State Fair Authority.Unfortunately the site fell into disrepair and plans were made to dismantle the old furnaces. When the people of Birmingham heard about the pending destruction, they came together to form the Sloss Furnace Association with plans to transform the site into a museum of industry. Saving Sloss was truly a grassroots effort. After the City of Birmingham took ownership of the site in 1977, the people voted in a $3 million bond to restore, preserve, and turn the site into a museum. Sloss Furnaces earned National Historic Landmark status in 1981 and opened to the public in 1983. It is the only 20th century blast furnace site in the United States that is being preserved and interpreted as an industrial museum.

Welcome to the Sloss Furnaces Visitor Center West Room! This is where tour groups and visitors watch the introduction video and get acquainted with the site. This room also showcases many artifacts and objects that are associated with Sloss Furnaces and the iron-making process.

Welcome to the Sloss Furnaces Visitor Center Lobby! Many visitors like to walk around this area before heading out into the site. We have several metal art pieces on display as well as our Foundry Pattern Exhibit. There are also some storyboards that go over the history of Sloss Furnaces. To read these, click the Question Mark Button at the top of the screen.

Welcome to the Historic Black Bath House! This building stands as a reminder of the oppressive Jim Crow System in place in Birmingham. Industrial companies, such as Sloss Furnaces, participated and benefited from this system. The economic opportunities industry offered its workers, as well as the ill-feelings the men had toward this system helped spark the Civil Rights Movement in Birmingham.

Watch an Iron Pour

Sloss Metal Arts Website

Welcome to the Boilers! On either side of our main walkway are boilers that would create the steam to power the machines throughout the site. The steam would also be used in the Power House to create electricity for the site and the Sloss Quarters--the housing community built by Sloss Furnaces for workers and their families.

Welcome to the Stock System! This system was implemented during the major modernization efforts of the 1920s. Ingredients would arrive on trains which would pull onto the Stock Trestle. They would dump the ingredients into storage bins below the Stock Trestle, and then into the Stock Tunnel. The ingredients were loaded onto the Skip Hoist and taken up and into the furnaces.

Welcome to the Stock Tunnel! This 250 yard long tunnel helped workers load the furnace with the ingredients. It spans the entire length of the facility and was built during the major modernization push of the 1920s.

Welcome to the Water Tower Plaza! This is the most central location in the site and plays host to several events throughout the year, including arts and food festivals, corporate gatherings, and weddings.

Welcome to the Blowing Engine Building! This is the oldest building on site (not counting the two rooms added when the Turbo Blowers were brought in in the 1940s and 1950s) and was built in 1902. You can think of this building as the lungs of the site--breathing the air into the Hot Blast Stoves and then into the furnaces.

Welcome to the Power House! This building was built in 1922 and provided electricity for the site and for the residents of the Sloss Quarters--the industrial housing community built by Sloss across the street from the furnaces.

Welcome to the Spray Pond! While many see this as just a decorative addition to the site, it was a vital part of the iron-making process. It also used to be the location of the old Coke Ovens on site, and has the historic Frisco 4018 Engine displayed near the front gate.

Welcome to the #1 Furnace and Cast Shed! This is where everything comes together to make the pig iron bars. The furnace was rebuilt in 1929 as part of the major modernization push after World War I. It doubled the production of the old furnace and stands at about 80 feet tall. The shed was necessary to protect the iron from the elements as it cooled into a solid.

Present Day

Early 1950s

This Present Day vs History photo shows the #1 Furnace and Skip Hoist. You can see the piles of ingredients waiting to be loaded into the furnace. You may also notice that the Water Tower is not in the History photo. The Sloss Water Tower was not built until the 1950s after Sloss-Sheffield was bought by U.S. Pipe & Foundry Company. This, along with the fact that you can see a part of the Slag Granulator between the pipes on the left side of the furnace (which was not built until late 1940s), helps us date this photo.

Present Day

Early 1950s

This Present Day vs History photo shows the #1 Furnace and Skip Hoist. You can see the piles of ingredients waiting to be loaded into the furnace. The piles are so high you cannot see the Stock Trestle that's behind them!

Present Day

1940s/1950s

This Present Day vs History photo shows the #1 Furnace, Skip Hoist, and Stock Trestle. You can see the piles of ingredients waiting to be loaded into the furnace, as well as finished pig iron laying on the ground right next to where our entrance road is today. If you look close, you can see some of the same buildings in downtown Birmingham in the background.

Present Day

1930s/1940s

This Present Day vs History photo shows the Pig Casting Machine and Ladle Car. The Pig Casting Machine and Ladle Car system was brought to Sloss in 1931 and replaced the out-dated floor casting method of making pig iron. While we still have our Ladle Cars that carried the molten iron to the machine, most of the parts to the Pig Casting Machine were sold in 1975 before the site began being preserved as a museum.

Present Day

1900s-1910s

This Present Day vs History photo shows the #1 Furnace and Cast Shed. This is an interesting comparison because both the furnace and cast shed are different today than what we see in this picture. As the furnaces were rebuilt between 1925 and 1929, they changed the direction of the cast sheds and began the process moving away from the floor-casting method and to the Pig Casting Machine andLadle Car system.

Present Day

1950s-1960s

This Present Day vs History photo shows the #2 Furnace and Slag Pit. You can see the Slag Granulator working in the History photo as the steam billows off of the hot, molten slag as it is cooled with water. You can see the train car below the granulator being loaded up with crushed slag to be used to make concrete or other useful material. Unfortunately the Slag Granulator for the #2 Furnace could not be saved during the preservation efforts of the late-1970s and early-1980s.

Present Day

1950s-1960s

This Present Day vs History photo shows the #2 Furnace and Slag Pit. You can see the same giant steam shovel in the foreground of the History photo has been moved and now sits a little behind there in the Present Day photo. You can tell that this is 1950s-1960s because the Slag Granulator you see behind the Slag Pit was not installed until the late 1940s.

Present Day

1930s-1940s

This Present Day vs History photo shows the Pig Casting Machine by the #1 Cast Shed. You can see in the History photo how after the pig iron bars would drop into a waiting train car, the entire car would be sprayed with water to cool the bars off completely. Then the train could take the bars off towherever they needed to go.

Present Day

1930s-1940s

This Present Day vs History photo shows the Pig Casting Machine and Ladle Car. The Ladle Car is pouring molten iron into the Pig Casting Machine's molds to make the pig iron bars. This process was brought to Sloss in 1931. The Ladle Car could hold around 125 tons of molten iron inside of it. Both the #1 and #2 Furnaces used this Pig Casting Machine.

Present Day

1900s-1910s

This Present Day vs History photo shows the Sloss site from the #1 Furnace side. As you can tell the site looks very different today than it did at this time. During the major modernization effort of the late 1920s, Sloss completely changed the layout of their furnaces. As both furnaces were rebuilt, they changed the direction of the sheds. As you can see the location of the furnaces and the two large smokestacks on the right side of the photos did not change. You can tell that it is after 1900 because you can slightly see the Blowing Engine Building which was built in 1902 behind the #1 Cast Shed.