At one time, the steel and iron industries were the top of the economic pyramid. Everything was a trickle-down effect from there. And Pittsburgh, in particular Homestead, PA, was the main hub of the majority of import and export of steel and iron through the United States. Because of this, plenty of tragedy and death were overlooked for the betterment of the industry and economy. The only lasting structures of this bygone era rest quietly and lonely at the foothills of Rankin, PA: Carrie Furnace. The unnerving steel structures are not the only thing that remains of the past. It’s said that the steel workers who passed away in heartbreaking accidents still reside there today, slaving away for eternity with an everlasting demand of steel and iron.
Originally constructed in 1886, Carrie Furnace was part of a large steel work operation which stretched for miles along the Monongahela River. This operation was known as the Homestead Steel Works. It employed over 15,000 steel workers in its’ heyday and was known for its’ incredible amount of steel and iron production. From the 1920’s-1940’s the population saw the largest economical boom in the steel and iron industry. However, after World War II, the industry began to decline. Fast forward to the 1970’s and 1980’s, the steel industry practically imploded. The large operation, as well as most of the other mills in the Pittsburgh area, closed and abandoned their operations.
Most of the area has been renovated; torn down, and turned into some kind of entertainment, shopping, or living complex. The majority of the operation is now known as the Waterfront and the water park, Sandcastle. However, there are two blast furnaces (number 6 and 7) that have remained and been preserved by a local history group known as the Rivers of Steel Heritage Corporation.
It is now well known that working in the steel industry was very dangerous. Nowadays, there are many deaths accounted for from workers’ getting diseases and cancers caused by working in these mills. However, back then when these mills were a way of life, the only danger was mistakes and accidents occurring on these sites. More often than not, deaths were covered up and undocumented. The mills did not want this information getting out to the public to cause a stir, and sometimes even if they did the public would overlook them knowing that this industry was the life and blood of the area.
The most common deaths which occurred on the property were those of falls, burns, and suffocation. Without the safety protocols and procedures that we have now, workers in the early and mid-1900’s did what they had to in order to get the job done. That did include climbing to heights without any security that would be frowned upon today. This led to many accidental slip ups, which resulted in immediate deaths. Other accidents were those of hot steel burns that would cover a workers’ body and slowly cook him to death. Once they were covered in this molten steel, there was really no way of saving them. On occasion, carbon monoxide poisoning would set in and suffocate the employees. Without the breathing apparatuses used today, these workers imply worked through any kind of dangerous (unknown to them at the time) smoke and inhalation without thinking twice.
There is also the legend of the local Pittsburgh mob disposing of bodies in the molten steel by paying off employees to “not see anything.” These myths were never reported and more than likely just that – lore and stories to scare kids and new employees.
The site is opened up to paranormal groups for investigations as well as local guided tours around the facility on occasion. Over time, these groups have managed to gather plenty of evidence, and continue to do so. Aside from the eerie atmosphere and heavy air about the property, there have been numerous reports of voices, EVP’s, and even shadow people.
During the very first open investigations of the property, the locally based investigators captured voices calling out working instructions much like a supervisor giving orders. They also recorded screams and cries for help near the center of the blast furnace. Full body entities were also spotted and recorded on camera roaming the grounds.
Mysterious noises and pipes banging occur frequently throughout the complex without any explanation or cause. Strange mists can be seen forming out of nowhere and disappearing just as quickly.
Occasionally, visitors to the property have been reported being touched. There are thermal images of body-less legs and feet that have been recorded. Most groups who visit and spend time at the old furnace location have felt a strong urge to leave the property by some unknown being.