Sunday, October 2, 2011

♫...When I get to watch you burn...♫


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Day 2 - Favorite real haunted place

One of the most haunted places in America, that has been featured on shows such as The Travel Channel's Ghost Adventurers and Syfy's Ghost Hunters, just happens to be less than 30 minutes from my house.

Sloss Furnaces was built in  Birmingham, Alabama on 50 acres of land in the late 1800s. In April of 1882 the first blast furnace became operational, and in that  first year it produced 24,000 tons of high quality iron. The iron production at Sloss was one of the major components that led to a large boom in industry in Birmingham in the late 1800s to the early 1900s...and helped earn the city the nickname The Magic City. Iron production ran for almost 90 years at Sloss, and at least 19 blast furnaces were built in the Jefferson County area. 

I often call the deep south 'the devil's waiting room', or other colorful names, due to the heat and humidity that we experience most of the year. Combine the heat from one of our hottest days, with the stifling humidity, and the scorching heat from one of those furnaces and you have a recipe for hell on earth. Add to that a dash of cruelty and depravity and you have yourself the mixture that left a haunting mark on Sloss.

James 'Slag' Wormwood was a foreman on the graveyard shift at Sloss in the early 1900s. A skeleton crew of 150 workers, mostly new immigrants and the extremely poor (who all mostly lived on the cramped housing located on site), worked from sundown until sunup under Slag's stifling reign. He often made his workers take dangerous risks so that he could impress those in charge. Accidents and accidental deaths were numerous during the early years of iron production due to long hours without sleep (there were no holidays or breaks), missteps, dangerous gasses, equipment malfunction, and a myriad of other hellish conditions. However, under Slag, ten times as many workers died than from any other shift in the history of the furnaces. Countless others suffered injuries, leaving them unable to work...including six workers who were left blind when there was an explosion in a small engine house.

They say it was October of  1906 when James "Slag" Wormwood "lost his footing" while at the top of 'Big Alice' (the highest blast furnace). It was said that he became dizzy from the gases, and that caused him to fall into the melted iron ore below...where his body instantly melted. The funny thing is...never in all the years that he worked at Sloss, had he ever stepped foot on Big Alice before. 

Soon after his death, Sloss discontinued the graveyard shift...and a 'presence' as been felt throughout the site ever since. People have gone missing and been found, unconscious, locked in a different part of the site....unable to recall what happened, but all saying they were approached by a badly burned man who shouted at them to get back to work. Others have been shoved...or heard the angry voice telling them to get back to work....but the worst of the stories happened in 1971 just before they closed the plant for good. The nightwatchman was taking a last look around and came face to face with an angry, fire-scarred man. He said that the man attempted force him up the stairs, but when he would not go, the man began beating him. When he was later examined by a doctor, the nightwatchmen was covered with burns.

Birmingham police records hold well over 100 unexplained incidents at the factory. The majority of these incidents happen in September and October during the hours of that old graveyard shift. From lights, to disembodied footsteps, to eerie mists and angry voices, it's clear that there is a presence at Sloss that is not afraid of making itself known. This is what has brought many paranormal experts, as well as others just looking for a 'thrill', to Sloss in search of ghosts.

Sloss Furnaces is now listed as a National Historic Landmark. They offer tours, educational activities, art exhibitions, plays, weddings, birthdays, and a myriad of other things. I have been to Sloss on several occasions for concerts ranging from The Counting Crows to My Chemical Romance. Every October they host Sloss Fright Furnance, the largest haunted house in Alabama....which you will NEVER see me at.

There is defiantly an odd feeling to Sloss...at least, I feel it. You will never catch me creeping about on tours or daring to utter 'Slagg' while there.

Check out THESE investigations and quips....and HERE are the Ghost Hunters at Sloss





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