Sloss Furnaces opened its doors in 1882 and produced loads of pig iron for nearly 90 years. Today, the Birmingham, AL site is a National Historic Landmark that serves as a museum, entertainment venue, and annual Halloween attraction. However, that’s not all. Legend has it the historic facility is haunted by workers who died gruesomely on the job, but are these stories true ?
A Deadly Past
Dozens of tales describe the horrifying accidents that allegedly occurred at Sloss Furnaces. One story claims a worker’s clothing got caught in a boiler cog wheel, dragging him into the machinery. The man’s horrified co-workers could do nothing as the wheel slowly crushed him to death. In another tale, a man fell into molten steel and was incinerated in seconds. Other accounts claim countless men died after falling from catwalks or getting caught in violent bursts of steam. There’s also the legend of James Robert Wormwood, or Slag, a cruel foreman who pushed workers too hard, causing many fatal accidents. Slag met his own gruesome end after he fell from a suspended walkway, either by accident or at the hands of his team.
Most of these horrifying accounts are vague and impossible to verify, though several men, most of them black laborers, indeed died on the job. In Sloss Furnaces and the Rise of the Birmingham District, author W. David Lewis describes an accident in which two men cleaning the interior walls of the Number One furnace were overcome by fumes and fell into the smoldering materials below. Ten years later, The New York Times wrote about a scaffold collapse at Sloss that killed two men and injured six others. In 1897, the Times published another article about Sloss Furnaces, this one about the body of a young man discovered in a water tank. He’d been carrying a woman’s pair of shoes.
A Haunted Reputation
Given the facility’s tragic history, it’s hardly surprising that Sloss Furnaces has a haunted reputation. Eerie reports from the old factory include steam whistles that blow on their own, disembodied footsteps, and unexplained bangs and screams, among other things. Reports of shadowy figures, orbs, and white mists are also common.
According to one site, a Sloss employee was taken to the hospital in 2003 after he suddenly caught fire and suffered severe burns. The victim remembers the fire happening after he spotted a strange shape in the shadows, but he still doesn’t know how the blaze occurred. A night watchman in 1971 also suffered burns after seeing something terrifying at Sloss, though he allegedly died from his injuries. The man, Samuel Blumenthal, reportedly told authorities he’d encountered a “half man/half demon” who’d attempted to push him down a flight of stairs before setting him ablaze.
Crews from Ghost Hunters, Ghost Adventures, and Scariest Places on Earth have all investigated Sloss Furnaces, with each proclaiming the site extremely active. Check out a few videos below, including one from a Ghosts and Ghouls reader who describes his footage as “the best ghost footage you will ever see.” What do you think of the creepy tales?
Have you had an eerie experience at Sloss Furnaces? Share your story here or email firstname.lastname@example.org!