Sloss Furnaces is a National Historical Landmark in Birmingham, Alabama. It was a large iron-producing blast furnace from 1881 to 1971. After it’s closure ir was one of the first industrial sites to be preserved for the public use in the USA. It is used as a museum that also hosts festivals and concerts. There is also an annual Halloween attraction – Sloss Fright Furnace. I’ll be honest I had never heard of the place until Ghost Adventures did a show there and I happened to see it.

Colonel James Withers Sloss was one of the founders of Birmingham and helped to promote rail-road development. He founded the furnace company and the first blast was initiated April 1882. The facility produced an impressive 24,000 tons of iron and won a bronze medal at the Southern Exposition at Louisville, Kentucky in 1883.

It was sold in 1886 when Sloss retired, the Sloss-Sheffield Steel and Iron Company then installed new equipment from 1902 onwards, the furnaces were modernised between 1927 to 1931. Through the modernising they also became on of the largest sellers of pig-iron in the district and the world. During this time they build 48 small cottages for black workers near the down-town furnace, the community became known as Sloss Quarters.

In 1952 the furnaces changed hands, then sold two decades later in 1969 to the Jim Walter Corp. The area had suffered from serious pollution and the U.S Clean Air Act pretty much spelt its demise. The Jim Walter company donated the property to Alabama State Fair Authority as a museum of industry. In 1977 the Birmingham voters approved a $3.3 million bond to stabalize the main structures and develop the visitors centre.

So now the industrial history is out of the window lets get onto the ghosts.

In the early 1900’s James Wormwood was the foreman of the graveyard shift, there were 150 workers there to keep the furnace fed, only the poorest and desperate men would risk this job in the summer, and Wormwood was apparently quite willing to make the workers take risks to ensure he impressed his bosses. 47 men lost their lives under his supervision and there were also numerous accidents that left other man unable to work. They were also not allowed breaks or holidays.

1906 it’s possible that karma took her chance, James Wormwood lost his footing at the top of the highest blast furnace (Big Alice) and was killed instantly when he fell into a pool of melted iron ore. Beofer that date he had never been up to the furnace top, no one was convicted of murder but rumours state it is possible a worker pushed him. It was not long after this the graveyard shift was disbanded.

It seems that Wormwood still considers his job important, and workers had complained they frequently felt that there was an unnatural presence around them on the site. In 1926 a watchman was injured, he had been pushed from behind and told to get to work by someone unseen. In 1947 there were three men found knocked out in a boiler room with no recollection of what had happened. Samual Blumenthal was a night watchman who in 1947 described coming face to face with a half-man and half-demon creature that tried to push him. When he resisted the monster tried to beat him with his fists, Samual had intense burns and died before returning back to Sloss.

So how much is really the haunting of former Wormwood or other violently ended lives or how much is the sensations of being in the massive complex at night or alone in these vast areas? Sloss Furnace has gained one of the reputations of haunted that sits alongside the Eastern State  or Danver so I have decided it’s one for the blog.

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