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North Hills Monthly

Historic Carrie Furnaces to Host Hot September Events

Aug 31, 2016 10:29AM ● By Erica Cebzanov

Steeltown Shakedown, Courtesy of Greg Geibel

Rivers of Steel Heritage Corporation (RSHC) works to preserve Carrie Furnaces 6 and 7, which produced iron for the Homestead Steel Works from 1907 to 1978. These days, the site is used for numerous events, including concerts and art-making activities.

On Saturday, Sept. 3, Rivers of Steel Arts (RoSA), the corporation’s creative wing, will present the Festival of Combustion from noon to 8 p.m.

“I can’t think of a more appropriate venue to host a festival celebrating hot art-making processes than a place whose singular function for most of its existence was to melt iron at over 2,000 degrees on a daily basis,” said Chris McGinnis, chief curator.

Pittsburgh Glass Center will have flame-working demonstrations and glass mosaic workshops. At Ton Pottery’s booth, guests can create raku pottery, and TechShop will have a 3D printer and fire piano on display while a blacksmith gives demonstrations. Mobile Sculpture Workshop employees will exhibit welding and metal fabrication processes.

At the RoSA booth, visitors can scratch designs into pre-made sand molds. “Then we’ll cast that design into molten iron and/or aluminum,” said McGinnis.

“People who are in the fields of iron and aluminum making are also able to bring their own molds, as opposed to using one on-site, which is new this year,” said RSHC Director of Administration Stacy Drane. 

Children can create hot crayon paintings in the Kids Zone, and the festival will offer abbreviated furnace tours, live music and food vendors. Adult admission is $15; admission is free for those under 18. Hands-on workshops range from $5 to $10, with the exception of the $35 bring-a-mold workshop. RoSA encourages people to purchase their hands-on workshop tickets online in advance.

On Saturday, Sept. 17, the 12th annual Steeltown Shakedown car cruise will take place from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. The Sacred Piston Car Club previously held its Rockabilly-themed event at Robinson Township’s now defunct Twin Hi-Way Drive In, and while club member Greg Geibel mourns the loss, he is excited about the new location. 

“There is nothing more Pittsburgh than steel, and there is nothing more American than a love of automobiles,” he said. “Those two things are going to go together perfectly at the Carrie Furnaces.”

The show is open to pre-1984 vehicles. “We’re not the car show that has $100,000 cars coming in, where guys rope them off and yell at you if you get too close,” Geibel said. “We like when people want to sit in our cars, and take pictures in our cars.”

The Sacred Pistons, led by president Jim ‘Shakey’ Young, will distribute awards to vehicle owners, and Dana Von Dangerously will host a pin-up contest. Local bands will provide entertainment, and there will also be food trucks on hand. RSHC will be providing furnace tours during the event. Registration is $10 per show car or $5 per spectator. The event will take place rain or shine.

On Friday, Sept. 23 and Saturday, Sept. 24, the Thrival Innovation + Music Festival will combine several days of innovation-based presentations with a weekend concert at the Carrie Furnaces. This year’s lineup includes headliners CHVRCHES, Thievery Corporation, Metric, The Chainsmokers and Lettuce. 

“The history, aesthetic and environment of Carrie are exactly what we’re looking for in a concert venue,” said Dan Law, Thrival executive producer. “The site both reflects our region’s industrial heritage, but also demonstrates an innovative example of creative reuse.” 

Ron Baraff, RSHC’s historic resources and facilities director, said it is “beyond exciting” to introduce potentially 20,000 attendees to the area. “It’s a very impressive site, and it’s a very important site, historically,” he said. “For us, we’re hoping it will resonate far beyond just people coming to a concert.”

For more information about the Festival of Combustion visit:

For more information about the Steeltown Shakedown, visit

For more information about Thrival Innovation + Music Festival, visit