Motivation is a photography blog that discusses the creative aspects of photography. The posts will include thoughts about images and their interpretation, photographers and their work, technique, workflow, my ongoing projects, and perhaps even the occasional off topic rant.

The Carrie Furnace Project

Several times over the last few weeks, I have mentioned a photography project that I have been working on for some time.  I was initially waiting to completely finish it prior to showing any of the images, but sometimes unexpected events just get in the a broken printer! Which, by the way, is now officially dead.  And I have to say that I am quite peeved, as it has died very prematurely for this type of machine and the repair cost is essentially the price of a new one. Despite the fact that I have a bit more work to do before the project is complete, I would like to start showing what I have done.  After all, blogs are supposed to be for projects still in the works.

So let's start with this question: What the heck is the Carrie Furnace????  Carrie is an old abandoned blast furnace located just outside of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It had been used to produce iron that was then shipped across the river to the Homestead works to be used in steel production.  In it's heyday, it produced up to 1250 tons of iron daily and the furnace was literally in use 24/7/365.  Carrie dates back to when Pittsburgh was at the center of the world's iron and steel production and it was closed, after 97 years of service, in 1978.  At the time, the workers were not actually told they were being laid off.  Instead they were told the plant was being closed for routine maintenance....and they were never called back.

For many years, the site lay dormant and was vandalized by scrappers (which continues today) and then changed hands several times with associated environmental concerns about the site.  Currently, only two of the initial seven furnaces remain standing (the others were taken down over the years).  Ultimately, Carrie ended up in the hands of Rivers Of Steel, a non-profit Pittsburgh organization dedicated to the preservation of Western Pennsylvania's iron and steel history.  It currently remains closed to the public (except for specific scheduled tours) and is behind barbed wire (to protect it from vandals and scrappers).  However, Rivers Of Steel's efforts to repair and make the site into a historic landmark is slowly coming to fruition through the help of many unselfish individuals who donate their time and efforts to help perform the needed renovations.

Interestingly, what most people wanted to see in my furnace images was 'historical documentation', but that is not what initially attracted me to the site.  I was attracted to the surreal beauty of the astonishing array of graphic lines and shapes made by the furnace, stoves, and pipes.  An interest in how iron was produced and what it was like to work here came later.  As part of that interest, I was able to interview Mr. Gault, who had worked at Carrie when he was a teenager and into his early twenties.  Talking with him was one of the absolute delights of working on this project, as one could not imagine a more interesting and articulate person to help understand what it was like to work here.

Over the next few months, I would like to start presenting some of these images, along with audio clips that I edited from my interview.  These are not necessarily the final clips to go with each photograph, as I had the opportunity to photograph at the furnace just yesterday and may well rearrange things a bit, with the final project to be posted to my website when complete.

So with this bit of background, the first image and audio clip will be posted on Wednesday (I need a day or two to make sure I can get audio into the blog!) do come back and visit.  And I  appreciate your feedback on the project as I present the images and audio content.