Iron and steel age

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Michael Bisegna (right) gave us an audio tour of the Carrie Furnaces in Swissvale, PA, where he worked for decades. StoryCorps was there to record him and George Brown (left) swapping stories of working in the steel mills. The Pittsburgh area steel industry was for a long time one of the world’s most prolific and attracted many European immigrants like Michael and George’s parents and/ or grandparents. Until the industry’s collapse in the 70s and 80s, steel mills were the area’s major employer and helped build the country’s infrastructure.

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The Carrie Furnaces employed were part of Homestead Works, a steel mill site planted just outside of Pittsburgh, PA, extending for 3 miles along the Monangahela river and covering hundreds of acres. At their peak, these blast furnaces processed 1000-1250 tons of iron a day.

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Today, organizations such as the Rivers of Steel Heritage Area which invited us to the furnaces, are lobbying to have Homestead Works incorporated into the National Park Service. The Carrie Furnaces are examples of early production techniques. The Pumphouse, another vestige of Homestead Works, was the site of the historic Battle of Homestead. (The 1892 battle ended with the repression of thousands of striking workers and is credited with stifling the US labor movement for decades).

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