Thursday, March 18, 2010
Sloss Furnace's website describes the furnace and its history:
"The original blast furnaces constructed by James Withers Sloss in the early 1880's served to propel the fledgling city of Birmingham into the pre-eminent industrial center of the South. For this reason Sloss Furnaces is a rich source of local pride and an invaluable part of our collective identity. But the Sloss Furnaces story doesn't end there. We are now looking to the future with plans to preserve Sloss Furnaces and expand on it's base as a cultural icon. You'll find these plans are big and bold, much like the towering smokestacks and enormous furnaces that made Sloss the stuff of legend."
Many of the legends associated with the furnace are of the ghostly kind. The most famous ghost of Sloss Furnace was that of a man named Theophilus Calvin Jowers. Jowers came to Oxmoor in 1873 around the time that they began making pig iron with coke instead of charcoal because all of the trees around Birmingham had been cut down. In 1887, he became assistant foundryman at the Sloss Furnace in Birmingham. One day, he was trying to change the bell on the Alice furnace. He was using a block and tackle and was walking around the edge of the furnace when he lost his balance. Both he and the bell fell into the molten iron, and he was burned up. The workmen tried to save what was left of him by using a piece of sheet iron attached to a length of gas pipe, but all that they found were a shoe and a foot inside it.
Shortly after Jowers death the stories began to spread about Jower's ghost haunting the furnace. Jowers was not the only accidental death at Sloss Furnace, but he is the most famous ghost. I spoke with the Alabama Parnormal Association (APS) about their investigation of Sloss Furnace and they were able to tell me several interesting stories. My favorite of these stories had to do with their EVP recordings from Sloss. They started EVP when they entered the facility. At some point one of the investigators tripped and fell over for no reason she could explain. When they played the EVP back, right before the investigator fell you could hear a man's voice saying "I'm Sorry."