My Visit To The Carrie Furnaces

My Visit To The Carrie Furnaces

What I took away from my visit to the Carrie Furnaces, and what I think it meant for Pittsburgh's history.

For the time being, before I head back to W&J, my family is having a small "Stay-cation," and earlier in the week we had an interesting visit to the Carrie Furnaces in Homestead. Our tour was held by one of the board members of the Rivers of Steel National Heritage Area, Ron Baraff. Ron was very nice in showing us around the two furnaces, and provided a wealth of information regarding what different parts of the furnaces were for, why they would do things in such a way, and some of the historical context behind the creation of the furnaces. The Carrie Furnaces were built in 1907 to produce iron for the Homestead Works from 1907 to 1978. Furnaces 6 and 7, the ones down in Homestead, hit peak production in the 1950s and 1960s, producing about 1000-1250 tons of iron a day. Why these two furnaces were so important, aside from their obvious uses, was that these are the only two non-operative blast furnaces that provide insight into pre-World War II iron-making technology. When I toured the furnaces earlier in the week, I was amazed by viewing the same furnaces that would become one of the most robust industries of its time, and would later become one of the key industries to aid the Allies in World War II. What I also took away from the visit was how important these furnaces were to the history of Pittsburgh, and how it shaped its community in the future.

I felt as though the furnaces were a fine testament to Pittsburgh's history and the relevance of Pittsburgh in America's history, a feat which is very difficult for many other cities to boast. Plus, because Pittsburgh would be home to the iron-making industry, it shaped much of our culture, both in the past and today. In the past, many of Pittsburgh and Homestead's buildings were constructed out of the iron from the furnaces. When the NFL was established and the major was being decided, Pittsburgh not only named their team "Steel," which would later be changed to "The Steelers," but also, the logo was to have colors correlated to the items needed to produce steel: yellow for coal, orange/red for iron ore, and blue for steel scrap. Primanti Brothers also started from Pittsburgh's relation with the iron industry. The steel workers, when constructing buildings and working in the furnaces, would only have short periods for lunch breaks, roughly 5-10 minutes, so to get the food they needed at once, the steel workers would pile all of their side dishes onto their sandwiches. So, when the founders of Primanti's opened, it is said that many of their customers would be these same steel workers who liked their sandwiches with these toppings, and that would become Primanti's signature way of making sandwiches.

Today, while Pittsburgh no longer houses that robust industry anymore, its past still holds some effect on Pittsburgh's culture today. At the Carrie Furnaces, Ron Baraff and some of the others at Rivers of Steel, want others in the community to provide some works of art to share what the furnaces mean to them, so long as the artists respect the furnaces, and speak with those in Rivers of Steel about any projects. One particular art piece was done by a guerilla artist that used items on-site to make a 3-D Deer Head. While this wasn't done officially, the managers of the furnace kept it to show artists their acceptance of pieces on the mill. The managers also allow different grafitti artists to do pieces on the furnace, but they must consult with the managers to know what places they are allowed to do their art. One example was on the far side of the furnaces, where there is a wall full of graffiti art, several I really enjoyed, and around the mill are pieces that an artist did in commemoration of a deceased artist named "Kidz." Wiz Khalifa, who become popular nationally due to his homage to Pittsburgh with "Black and Yellow," also had another song, "Work Hard, Play Hard," which features some shots from the Carrie Furnaces and also pays homage to the movie "Flash Dance."

Overall, my visit to the Furnaces was delightful, but also inspiring, because it felt like the furnaces really said something about the innovation of Pittsburgh and the effect Pittsburgh had on the U.S. in general. I can definitely say that many of those born in Pittsburgh should take pride in it, because behind your history is a long lineage of hard workers and a people proud of their city, who pushed themselves to be one of the most relevant cities in American History in the last century.

For more info on the furnaces, or if you'd like to set up a tour ,please visit this link:

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I'm The Girl Without A 'Friend Group'

And here's why I'm OK with it


Little things remind me all the time.

For example, I'll be sitting in the lounge with the people on my floor, just talking about how everyone's days went. Someone will turn to someone else and ask something along the lines of, "When are we going to so-and-so's place tonight?" Sometimes it'll even be, "Are you ready to go to so-and-so's place now? Okay, we'll see you later, Taylor!"

It's little things like that, little things that remind me I don't have a "friend group." And it's been like that forever. I don't have the same people to keep me company 24 hours of the day, the same people to do absolutely everything with, and the same people to cling to like glue. I don't have a whole cast of characters to entertain me and care for me and support me. Sometimes, especially when it feels obvious to me, not having a "friend group" makes me feel like a waste of space. If I don't have more friends than I can count, what's the point in trying to make friends at all?

I can tell you that there is a point. As a matter of fact, just because I don't have a close-knit clique doesn't mean I don't have any friends. The friends I have come from all different walks of life, some are from my town back home and some are from across the country. I've known some of my friends for years, and others I've only known for a few months. It doesn't really matter where they come from, though. What matters is that the friends I have all entertain me, care for me, and support me. Just because I'm not in that "friend group" with all of them together doesn't mean that we can't be friends to each other.

Still, I hate avoiding sticking myself in a box, and I'm not afraid to seek out friendships. I've noticed that a lot of the people I see who consider themselves to be in a "friend group" don't really venture outside the pack very often. I've never had a pack to venture outside of, so I don't mind reaching out to new people whenever.

I'm not going to lie, when I hear people talking about all the fun they're going to have with their "friend group" over the weekend, part of me wishes I could be included in something like that. I do sometimes want to have the personality type that allows me to mesh perfectly into a clique. I couldn't tell you what it is about me, but there is some part of me that just happens to function better one-on-one with people.

I hated it all my life up until very recently, and that's because I've finally learned that not having a "friend group" is never going to be the same as not having friends.

SEE ALSO: To The Girls Who Float Between Friend Groups

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8 Reasons Maryland Deserves a Visit, Hon

Maryland is a small state, but it has a big personality.


Maryland has so much to do, from the beaches on the East coast to the mountains on the western border. These are just 8 of many reasons our state is worth a visit!

1. It is the best place to eat Maryland Crabs.

I hope you like Old Bay!

2. Ocean City, MD has so much to do!

You can lay on the beach, go swimming, play a game of mini golf, walk on the boardwalk, play carnival games, ride carnival rides, go to clubs (if you are of age), and have the best french fries of your life ('sup Thrashers) all in one place!

3. You can visit Assateague Island off of the coast of Maryland and Virginia.

There are wild horses on an island off of the coast of Maryland and Virginia, 'nough said!

4. Baltimore's Inner Harbor is full of good eats and fun activities.

You can simply walk around the Inner Harbor, ride the paddle boats, tour a submarine, go to the aquarium, or ride the Spirit of Baltimore all in the same general vicinity.

5. You can visit the National Harbor in Prince George's County.

There is so many things to do here. You can ride the huge ferris wheel with enclosed cars, ride a mechanical bull at the Cadillac Ranch, visit the MGM Grand Casino and the big Gaylord Hotel.

6. Sugar Loaf Mountain is a great place to go hiking.

7. Great Falls is also a great location to visit!

You can visit Great Falls on either the Maryland or Virginia side. It's like a mini Niagara Falls.

8. You can root for the Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards.

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