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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3 Reasons Why Step Dads Are Super Dads


I often hear a lot of people complaining about their step-parents and wondering why they think that they have any authority over them. Although I know that everyone has different situations, I will be the first to admit that I am beyond blessed to have a step dad. Yep, I said it. My life wouldn't be the same that it is not without him in it. Let me tell you why I think step dads are the greatest things since sliced bread.

1. They will do anything for you, literally.

My stepdad has done any and every thing for me. From when I was little until now. He was and still is my go-to. If I was hungry, he would get me food. If something was broken, he would fix it. If I wanted something, he would normally always find a way to get it. He didn't spoil me (just sometimes), but he would make sure that I was always taken care of.

SEE ALSO: The Thank You That Step-Parents Deserve

2. Life lessons.

Yup, the tough one. My stepdad has taught me things that I would have never figured out on my own. He has stood beside me through every mistake. He has been there to pick me up when I am down. My stepdad is like the book of knowledge: crazy hormonal teenage edition. Boy problems? He would probably make me feel better. He just always seemed to know what to say. I think that the most important lesson that I have learned from my stepdad is: to never give up. My stepdad has been through three cycles of leukemia. He is now in remission, yay!! But, I never heard him complain. I never heard him worry and I never saw him feeling sorry for himself. Through you, I found strength.

3. He loved me as his own.

The big one, the one that may seem impossible to some step parents. My stepdad is not actually my stepdad, but rather my dad. I will never have enough words to explain how grateful I am for this man, which is why I am attempting to write this right now. It takes a special kind of human to love another as if they are their own. There had never been times where I didn't think that my dad wouldn't be there for me. It was like I always knew he would be. He introduces me as his daughter, and he is my dad. I wouldn't have it any other way. You were able to show me what family is.

So, dad... thanks. Thanks for being you. Thanks for being awesome. Thanks for being strong. Thanks for loving me. Thanks for loving my mom. Thanks for giving me a wonderful little sister. Thanks for being someone that I can count on. Thanks for being my dad.

I love you!

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'Culling' The Bullsh*t; Taking A Deeper Look At The Antibiotics In The Livestock Industry

You want the truth? Here it is.


As many people have seen around the internet, one of the hot topics is having cattle or other livestock antibiotic free. This has lead to a movement that is not only incorrect with their basic information, but they are hurting family farms across the nation. This stems from the idea that antibiotics contaminate meat products and will affect the consumer. In this article the main points that "justify" the antibiotic culture will be broken down and simplified. I hope by the end of reading this you will be more knowledgeable about this subject, and will make the best decision for you and your family.

1. "If you don't specifically buy antibiotic free meat, you will buy meat with antibiotics in it."

The FDA has control check on the processing line when livestock is processed. This means that the likelihood of any "antibiotic filled" animal to make it through is slim to none. If by chance a ranch or feedlot gets flagged by FDA, they will be fined with a bill in the thousands. This type of flag will make it difficult for that ranch to ever sell livestock in the normal market again. This is only one of the incentives for ranch owners to stay in the clear.

2. "Antibiotics are used to promote growth"

This statement is false. Antibiotics are used to treat an illness. Yes an animal might gain weight after treatment. But that is because when we are sick we tend to not eat as much. Once you start to feel better, it stirs up your hunger. Antibiotics are and have never been used to promote growth.

3. What happens to the animal on an antibiotic free farm when it gets sick.

Let's do a comparison example. If your child got sick what do you normally do? Take them to the doctor and if he prescribes a medication for them you would provide the correct amount to treat the illness. This is the same way with the livestock industry. Most antibiotics and medication in general are a prescription based. Therefore, a vet will need to sign off on the treatment of the animals. While most ranches will treat the illness and move on, antibiotic free farms need to move that animal off site to another ranch. Some of the time they have a secondary place where those treated animals go to live out their life. Not treating a sick animal is inhumane.

These are only a few of the antibiotic free lies that surround the livestock world. And I am not saying for someone to completely change their beliefs over one article, what I am saying is do your research. From both sides of the argument. Then base your final decision from what you have learned. The agriculture industry has many that oppose that will use fear-tactics to push their agenda. And although we are not a perfect industry, we are a very important part of society. And we hold high standards for ourselves because of that.

Thank you for reading,

if you have a suggestion of what I should talk about next leave a comment.

-Chrystal B.

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