2019 was a record-setting year for Pennsylvania’s travel industry, with about 211.4 million travelers. Although the COVID-19 pandemic took a toll on the state’s travel trends in 2020, there was still an upward trend in the proportion of leisure travelers.
If you consider yourself a traveler, you may also tour Pennsylvania’s industrial heritage sites, and through the implementation of effective digital marketing strategies, these historical landmarks can reach a wider audience, inspiring more visitors to explore the state's fascinating industrial past.
In this case, what heritage areas should you visit within the state? Where are the industrial attractions in Pennsylvania, and what should you expect to see there?
This article lists the places to go within Pennsylvania with a rich history of the state’s industrial heritage. It also discusses the different industrial attractions and what you can see when visiting them.
In the past, many industries used and processed asbestos, a mineral often utilized as construction material for many homes built before the 1980s. Pennsylvania is one of the states that used to produce asbestos products.
Pennsylvania should be one of your stops if you’re a fan of history, especially of our country’s colorful industrial heritage.
Pennsylvania’s Rivers of Steel National Heritage Area is dedicated to honoring the region’s industrial history and the men and women who contributed to this achievement. The communities within this area work together to share the state’s cultural and industrial heritage.
This heritage area consists of eight counties representing the Pittsburgh Industrial District which includes:
There are plenty of things to do upon arriving in the heritage area. You can attend workshops, exhibits, and festivals, go sightseeing aboard a riverboat, or check out the heritage sites like the Carrie Blast Furnaces and Bost Building.
Your heritage trip to Pennsylvania won’t be complete without checking out the following industrial attractions within the Rivers of Steel National Heritage Area:
Towering 92 feet (28 meters) over the Monongahela River on the Allegheny Plateau, the steel furnaces of Carrie Blast Furnaces in Pittsburgh are rare examples of what our country’s iron-making technology looked like before World War II.
These enormous structures are Pennsylvania’s only non-operational blast furnaces left standing since the state’s steel industry’s collapse in the 1970s and 1980s.
Since then, Carrie Blast Furnaces has become a national historic landmark where visitors can take guided tours.
You can also explore the Carrie Blast Furnaces grounds and gardens and see how nature has reclaimed much of this post-industrial landscape.
Aside from guided tours, Rivers of Steel also hosts several festivals, workshops, and special events at the Carrie Blast Furnaces site.
Check out the interactive aerosol art and participate in metal casting workshops and other hands-on programs to discover unique ways to experience this part of Pittsburgh’s heritage.
Stop by the Bost Building in Homestead, Pennsylvania, if you want to explore the region. Here, you can purchase tour tickets for the Carrie Blast Furnaces or the Explorer riverboat. You can also browse the museum galleries and shop.
As a national historic landmark, the Bost Building serves as the visitors’ center for the Rivers of Steel National Heritage Area. The building also offers guides and exhibits on the region’s cultural and industrial history.
Constructed in 1892 as a hotel for Homestead workers, the Bost Building now houses an extensive collection of art, documents, artifacts, photos, and audio-visual materials related to the steel industry.
Tracing its origins back to 1892, the Pump House is one of four historical attractions in the Rivers of Steel National Heritage Area.
Built by the Carnegie Steel Company, the Pump House became the site of the Battle of Homestead. Also called the Homestead lockout and strike, the Battle of Homestead was a significant and defining moment in the nation’s labor history.
Today, visitors can book a tour of the building and its adjacent water tower to learn about the tumultuous events surrounding the strike and highlight the region’s renowned steel-making legacy.
If you want to see a prime example of American industrial heritage, don’t miss the W.A. Young & Sons Foundry and Machine Shop in your itinerary.
In 1900, William A. Young, a business owner and operator, built the machine shop using lumber from his family farm. The shop expanded in 1908 to include the foundry. In 1928, the shop started using electricity.
Machine Shop tours are available during most Sunday afternoons throughout the year. The Rivers of Steel’s dedicated volunteer staff will happily guide you through your tour.
During the tour, you can witness blacksmithing demonstrations performed by members of the Appalachian Blacksmiths Association and Pittsburgh Area Artists Blacksmiths Association.
- ECONOMIC IMPACT OF TRAVEL & TOURISM IN PENNSYLVANIA 2020