To truly remember and understand Steel Town’s industrial heritage, groups can step back in time to hear stories of the people, places, and historic events that forged Pittsburgh’s rise as a steel production epicenter on a Rivers of Steel Heritage Tour.

Rivers of Steel collaborates with tour operators and group travel planners to organize single or multiday itineraries for visitors who want to understand and embrace the history that shaped southwestern Pennsylvania’s past, present, and future.

Carrie Blast Furnaces | Rivers of Steel
Industrial tour of Carrie Blast Furnaces
Credit: Rivers of Steel

Forge Your Own Journey: The Babushkas & Hard Hats Tour

The half-day to multiday Babushkas & Hard Hats Tour combines history, storytelling, and celebration of the hands and the hearts that built Pittsburgh’s steel industry in one robust experience. With a focus on storytelling, the tour highlights the immigrant and migrant communities who dedicated their lives to Steel Town and its growth as an economic and innovation hub. Visitors will learn lesser-known tales behind the many landmarks and destinations in the Rivers of Steel National Heritage Area.

As part of this authentic Steel Town experience, groups will visit the Bost Building National Historic Landmark and historic Pump House—two landmarks central to understanding the Battle of Homestead, a defining moment in our nation’s labor history. A highlight of the program is an immigrant-inspired lunch provided by a steelworker’s daughter, whose story about the foods’ origin is as engaging as its flavors.

“Themes of American innovation and multiculturalism come to life on the Babushkas & Hard Hats Tour as Rivers of Steel’s guides offer groups a deeper understanding and appreciation of the very people who shaped Pittsburgh into the Steelmaking Capital of the World,” says Carly V. McCoy, director of marketing and communications at Rivers of Steel.

Pittsburgh | Rivers of Steel
Credit: Rivers of Steel

Tour operators will also choose one of the following focus tours for their group experience:

  • Industrial Tour of the Carrie Blast Furnaces (two-hour guided tour)

A remnant of the legendary U.S. Steel Homestead Steel Works, the Carrie Blast Furnaces are a vestige of Pittsburgh’s 20th-century domination of the steel industry. This tour uncovers the stories and history behind the site’s iron-making technology, its workers, and the cultures that influenced Pittsburgh.

  • Uniquely Pittsburgh Sightseeing Tour (90-minute guided tour)

Curious about what makes Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh? TheUniquely Pittsburgh Sightseeing Tour takes groups on a riverboat ride along the Ohio, Monongahela, and Allegheny rivers to learn about the region’s past as it helps uncover a sense of place and unique perspective of Steel City.

An expanded option of the Babushkas & Hard Hats Tour is also available. Additional destinations and experiences that showcase the broader region include stops at coal miners’ family homes in patch towns, industrialist Henry Clay Frick’s birthplace and Gilded Age mansion, and guided visits to iconic Pittsburgh hidden gems that share the legacy of the region’s many immigrants, from artists and educators to laborers and entrepreneurs.

Step-on guides accompany groups throughout their travels.

To learn more about the Babushkas & Hard Hats Tour or to book a group visit contact Rivers of Steel Heritage Tours at or call 412-464-4020.

Article by Erica Zazo

Lead photo:
Explorer riverboat
Credit: Rivers of Steel