Field Trip 4 – Sloss Furnaces

Sloss Furnaces

Sloss FurnacesWe recently went to Sloss Furnaces in Birmingham, AL.  It was so much stinkin’ fun!  I’ve heard Birmingham referred to as a post-industrial crap hole {and I think a good bit of it lives up to that…}, but I really had no idea what the “industrial” part of that was.

I’ll admit, when we first signed up for this field trip, I wondered how exciting it could really be.  The coolest sounding thing was the fact that we were going to make our own iron tile.  Man, I was so shocked to find out how interesting it all was.

Sloss was started by Colonel James Withers Sloss.  With the creation of Sloss Furnaces, Birmingham was poised to become a large producer of pig iron.  Birmingham got it’s nickname, The Magic City, because the city seemed to spring up, like magic, with all of the people that came to the area to work at the furnaces.  Tons of history in that place.

We started by carving sand blocks to make the mold for our iron tile {sand won’t melt at the high temperatures of the molten iron}.

I felt so bad for Babydoll. While I thought her sand block was awesome, she was so stressed out because she didn't have enough time.

Babydoll's butterfly - doesn't it rock?! She didn't think so and she cried; I felt bad.

My sand block mold.

After this, we started our tour. First stop – the spray pond where they recycled their water.

Sloss Furnaces is now a historical landmark, educational site, and home to metal artists. One of the artists made a mold of his legs and put the art in the pond.

Next up were various components of the site such as the tunnel where coke was loaded, the elevator which brought the coke where it needed to go, and one of the furnaces.

Next, we got to see the artists pour the iron into our sand block molds.

Ever wondered why it's called "pig" iron? When they molded the bars, it looked like a mama pig with her little baby pigs.

Some of the great metal art:

We also saw the fans that used to power the furnaces and the turbine that replaced them.


ETA:  Anna-Marie reminded me that I forgot to add a picture of our finished tiles!!!  Here ya go:

I’m linking this up to Anna-Marie’s field trip hop, be sure to check it out to find all sorts of great ideas for homeschool field trips!!