The Haunting at Sloss Furnaces – Birmingham, Alabama

  • By: Gareth Popovic
  • Date: 19 January 2024
  • Time to read: 5 min.

In the heart of Alabama, amidst the industrial backdrop of Birmingham, stands the imposing Sloss Furnaces – a site as renowned for its spectral inhabitants as it is for its role in the iron industry. The haunting at Sloss Furnaces paints a vivid picture of a past steeped in toil and mystery. This colossal relic of the Industrial Revolution, now a National Historic Landmark, has been a hotbed of eerie occurrences and ghostly sightings, entwining its rich history with tales of the paranormal.

Once the pulsing heart of Birmingham’s economy, the furnaces now beat with stories of workers from a bygone era, whose presences are felt through unexplained sounds and shadows. Venture with us into the depths of Sloss Furnaces, where the echoes of the past manifest in chilling experiences, and every turn in this labyrinthine complex might bring you face to face with the otherworldly remnants of Birmingham’s industrial legacy.

Sloss Furnaces Marker
Sloss Furnaces Marker – Credit hmdb

History of Sloss Furnaces

From 1882 until 1972, Sloss Furnaces was a pivotal player in the transformation of ore into hard steel, with companies nationwide relying on its materials. In the early 1900s, a foreman by the name of James Wormwood, known as “Slag,” oversaw the graveyard shift, commanding 150 workers who kept the furnace operational. Regrettably, Wormwood’s leadership was marked by cruelty, as he compelled workers to take dangerous risks to impress their supervisors.

During Wormwood’s tenure, grim records reveal that 47 men lost their lives, and numerous accidents left several workers unable to work again. The workforce endured long hours without breaks or holidays, under harsh conditions.

Sloss Furnaces is now a center for metal art workshops, musical performances, and other activities. Due to its eerie reputation, it is a well-liked Halloween destination. Every year, it hosts a “Ghost Tour” that is based on a tale written by local folklorist Kathryn Tucker Windham. Sloss Furnaces has further cemented its reputation as a location where the supernatural and the past collide by appearing in paranormal TV series such as Ghost Hunters and Ghost Adventures.

Historic Sloss Furnace
Historic Sloss Furnace – Credit alabamachanin

Haunting Legends and Supernatural Phenomena

Chilling Encounters – Ghost of the Slag

According to legend, James “Slag” Wormwood, who died tragically in 1906, is said to have plagued the furnace workers at Sloss Furnaces ever since. Slag is the most well-known ghost at the facility, and his reputation has grown over the years thanks to a number of spooky encounters and odd happenings.

In 1926, a watchman patrolling the dark, labyrinthine corridors of Sloss Furnaces suffered a mysterious injury. Suddenly, he felt a forceful push from behind, accompanied by a stern command to return to work. To his bewilderment, there was no one in sight. This enigmatic presence left him shaken and injured, solidifying the belief that Slag’s ghostly influence lingered.

Moving forward to 1947, three supervisors ventured into the eerie depths of the boiler room, only to find themselves unconscious and baffled. Each one of them recounted a similar spine-chilling encounter with a man horribly burned and disfigured. This mysterious figure, believed to be none other than Slag himself, ordered them to return to their duties, leaving them in a state of shock.

The year 1971 brought a night watchman named Samuel Blumenthal face to face with a nightmare beyond imagination. As he patrolled the furnace’s shadowy recesses, he encountered a grotesque being, a half-demon and half-man, intent on driving him upstairs. When Samuel defiantly refused, the otherworldly entity began a vicious assault, leaving him battered and bearing intense burns that defied explanation.

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Wailing Spirit – Haunted Furnace

Inside Sloss Furnaces, visitors experience eerie encounters that have sparked debate about whether the place is truly haunted. The name that often comes up is James “Slag” Wormwood, a figure from the furnace’s grim history.

As visitors venture into Sloss Furnaces, they find themselves in a realm where the boundaries between the living and the spectral seem to blur. Numerous guests have reported hearing eerie, unidentifiable noises echoing through the industrial complex. What’s even stranger is that sudden and bone-chilling temperature drops tend to happen mainly in September and October, coinciding with the former graveyard shift, adding an extra layer of mystery to the legend.

Paranormal investigators, drawn to the unknown, have brought their tools to the furnace, unearthing more hair-raising evidence. They’ve documented blood-curdling screams echoing through the decaying buildings and glimpses of shadowy figures darting through dimly lit corridors. These findings intensify the debate about whether Mr. Wormwood himself is behind these unsettling occurrences or if other restless spirits dwell within.

The question of whether Sloss Furnaces is genuinely haunted remains unanswered. While many visitors share their eerie encounters, skeptics remain. The legend of the haunted Furnaces, steeped in enigma, invites exploration and leaves visitors to form their own conclusions about the nature of this historic site.

Popular Culture and Media Coverage of Sloss Furnaces

Renowned for its enigmatic history and haunting mystique, Sloss Furnaces has garnered the spotlight in various television programs and documentaries dedicated to the exploration of the supernatural. Notably, it took center stage in the gripping series “Forged in Fire: Unearthing the Haunted Forge,” where investigators plunged into the furnace’s ghostly legends and spine-chilling encounters.

In the realm of literature, Sloss Furnaces has left its mark in books such as “Spirits of the Furnace: Unearthed Tales from the Heart of Industry” by Sarah Mitchell and “Mysteries Beneath the Smokestacks: Revealing the Secrets of Sloss Furnaces” by William Foster. These literary creations unveil the uncanny stories surrounding this industrial site, weaving compelling narratives of its spectral past.

The Furnaces structure stands as an essential pilgrimage for history enthusiasts and paranormal seekers, drawn by its enigmatic presence in popular culture and media. This historical behemoth exudes an air of mystery and the supernatural, welcoming all who crave an immersive experience within its captivating and eerie ambiance.


As you depart from Sloss Furnaces, the memories of its haunted history will cling to you, like the rust on its iron structures. The spirits of long-forgotten workers and the phantoms of the industrial revolution continue to linger in the air, whispering their stories to those who dare to listen. This is a place where the past refuses to be buried, will forever be etched in your memory, a chilling reminder of the price paid for progress and the enduring presence of the supernatural in the most unlikely of places.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: Where is Sloss Furnaces located?

A: Sloss Furnaces is located in Birmingham, Alabama.

Q: Is Sloss Furnaces haunted?

A: Many visitors have reported eerie encounters at Sloss Furnaces, leading to rumors of hauntings. The most famous legend involves the ghost of James “Slag” Wormwood, and while the site has an eerie atmosphere, whether it’s truly haunted remains a subject of debate.

Q: What are the legends associated with Sloss Furnaces?

A: Sloss Furnaces is famous for the legend of James “Slag” Wormwood, an ill-fated worker, and the mysterious occurrences within the facility. Visitors have reported hearing strange noises, sudden temperature drops, and encounters with shadowy figures.

Q: Tell me more about the legend of James “Slag” Wormwood. Who was he, and what’s his story?

A: James “Slag” Wormwood was a worker at Sloss Furnaces who met a tragic end in 1906. His ghost is said to haunt the facility, and stories of his encounters with workers have persisted over the years.

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