The cool rainy morning found me scooting around Birmingham looking for something to do. I had attempted to find the entrance to Sloss Furnaces last night but only uncovered locked gates. All gates were open this morning in preparation for a 5k Run the next day and I parked underneath the Hwy 11 overpass. The Sloss Furnace has been converted from an active pig iron furnace and industrial site into a National Historical Landmark with interpretive center and self-guided tour. The Sloss furnaces prospered in the late 19th century and early 20th century, benefiting from the choice location near the three main materials used in the process: limestone, iron ore and coal. The expansion of rail lines into and through Birmingham further facilitated the transport of resources into Sloss and the export of formed iron "pigs" to customers abroad.
Exploring the immense facility alone in the early morning hours allowed for a quiet and contemplative learning opportunity. Walking down hundred year old metal stairs sagging with the boots of burlier men, trudging through dripping and dark tunnels underneath the facility or ascending swaying rust-colored cat walks above the steam plant, I was like a kid in an adult size playground. The photographic opportunities were abundant, forcing me to often reconsider just "what" to photograph and how.
If you ever make it to Birmingham, the Sloss Furnaces offer an impressive opportunity to connect with the ghosts of industry long past. Although the heat and deafening sounds of the furnace have long since ceased, the story echoes on in the well preserved space, a reminder that they "just don't make em like they used to".
In May 2014 I quit my job to ride a Honda Ruckus over 69'000 mi and counting. Wild camping most nights and cooking most of my own meals, I keep the costs low and the landscape changing.