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Walk through History: New audio tour brings Birmingham’s past to life

New Historic Red Ore Express Tour launches on Travel Storys App
Source: Sloss Furnaces
Source: Sloss Furnaces
Published: Jun. 21, 2021 at 5:05 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 21, 2021 at 5:09 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Hidden under the kudzu of Red Mountain are remnants and relics of the industry that built Birmingham and gave us the name the Magic City. Some of the mines, machinery and factories that have been preserved tell the story of how the steel industry put the city on the map for the manufacturing industry, but the stories of the people who toiled in the intense conditions are disappearing. A new audio tour hopes to change that.

“A lot of times you hear of the captains of industry, but you might not hear about the individual who worked in really hot hard conditions,” says Bettina Byrd-Giles, she’s the project director of the Historic Red Ore Express tour. “My great grandfather moved to Birmingham from rural Alabama to work in the steel industry and this set of audio stories tell the story of people like my grandfather and his parents, the immigrants who came from European countries, people who came from the northeast, and the Midwest who came to help with the building of the Magic City.”

The tour just launched on the Travel Storys app, and it’s free. The app uses your location and will begin playing the stories that correspond as you walk.

Historic Red Ore Express
Historic Red Ore Express

“They are going to see a lot of the relics but they are also going to hear about the people,” says Byrd-Giles. “The stories talk about the geology and why people located to Birmingham and why Birmingham was so important in the steel industry across the globe.”

Organizers recommend Vulcan as a starting point, but the tour sites can be visited in any order, all in one day or over time, and include 5 points south, UAB, Alabama Power, the heaviest corner on earth and the 4th avenue historic black business district and Sloss furnace.

A second Historic Red Ore Express driving tour is set to launch this summer, which will include stops in Bessemer and Tannehill among others. Other locations in Birmingham, including Red Mountain park, also have tours on the app.

“We want people to know what the building of the magic city was like prior to 1950 and connect a lot of the institutions who are dedicated to telling a lot of these stories,” says Byrd-Giles.

To download the tour, just search for the Travel Storys App in your device’s app store.

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