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Shown at Carrie Furnaces in Rankin are Songer Services' Joe Meneskie, chief executive officer and president; Paul Songer, chairman and founder; and Gregg Preteroti, chief operating officer.
A Washington County company better known for building and repairing active furnaces and smokestacks has just completed a preservation job on the 110-year-old Carrie Furnaces in Rankin.
Songer Services, based in South Franklin Twp., near Washington, Pa., released a video this week detailing their preservation effort at the national historic site, located at the end of the Rankin Bridge, opposite the Waterfront entertainment complex.
You can watch the video on the company's website.
The project involved removing and capping 75 feet of distressed steel and brick from a vent stack at the furnaces. Songer was awarded the contract by the Rivers of Steel Heritage Corporation, the regional non-profit organization that oversees the Carrie Furnaces and other historic industrial sites in eight counties in southwestern Pennsylvania.
"While it's true we're used to working on live furnaces, this project was a chance we just couldn't pass up," said Gregg Preteroti, Songer's chief operating officer, in a prepared statement. "This was about working on a historical site that preserves steel history for future generations. It's a great way to honor our founder."
The Carrie Furnaces were built in 1884 and during their peak produced 1,000 to 1,250 tons of raw iron per day.
The facility, once part of U.S. Steel's Homestead Works, closed in 1982. All that is left are furnaces No. 6 and 7, which operated from 1907 to 1978. The furnaces were designated a National Historic Landmark in 2006 and are among only a few pre-World War II 20th century blast furnaces to survive.
Workers elevated on crane platforms removed about 75 feet of the stack, by hand, a few feet at a time. When the demolition work was completed, a new steel cap was welded to the top of the stack to keep out weather.
"We believed in Songer as a company, in their integrity, and in their commitment to preservation of the industry in this region," said Ron Baraff, director of historic resources and facilities for Rivers of Steel, in a prepared statement. "The Carrie Furnaces are a testament to the ingenuity, will and development in 20th century America."
Since completion of a new flyover ramp at the end of the Rankin Bridge providing easier access, the Carrie Furnaces have become a popular site for events, including last week's Mon Valley Sizzles music and food festival.
Allegheny County economic development officials envision the historic furnaces as the centerpiece of a mixed-use development that could include residential, commercial and industrial tenants.
Preteroti said the project was a "labor of love" designed to demonstrate Songer's place in American steelmaking history and to honor the company's chairman and founder, Paul Songer, 88, who began his career as a bricklayer apprentice at Bethlehem Steel in Lackawanna, N.Y., and worked on industrial construction projects throughout the country.
"We were aggressive with winning the Carrie Furnace project because it's a rare opportunity," Preteroti said. "Preserving a site like this honors Paul Songer in ways that will be remembered for years."
(Editor's Note: This article was written entirely from press releases.)
Originally published September 22, 2017.