Why is a famous furnace part of Trek Birmingham? Sloss Furnaces National Historic Landmark is a window to understanding how the city’s history and future are inextricably linked to the region’s environment – especially its unique geology and ecosystems – and even to Alabama’s ancient past.
The iron ore, coal and limestone needed to build Birmingham’s iron and steel industry were formed in the swamps and oceans that covered Alabama millions of years ago. Jones Valley’s springs provided water for the furnaces, and its flat land was perfect for building the railroads that provided transportation. Today, coal and limestone are still extracted here, and the area’s geology sustains a variety of ecosystems, plants and animals.
20 32nd Street North
Birmingham, AL 35222
• What To Do •
Besides offering the opportunities to climb into the belly of the massive furnaces and supporting machinery, Sloss illustrates the ways the extraction and use of the region’s minerals has influenced Birmingham’s history and its residents. The site has self-guided and cell-phone tours that explain how pig iron was produced.
Even though the furnaces are cold now, Sloss is still contributing to Birmingham’s culture, hosting events ranging from Shakespearean plays to rock concerts. Sloss also sponsors metal artists-in-residence in homage to the city’s steel industry. The artists are often on hand to show their work, and also offer classes in topics like welding and casting. Perhaps most popular are Sloss’ iron pours; check its web site for details.
• Seasonal Highlights •
Sloss is open year-round and hosts special events in every season. Guided tours are available by appointment.