On this day in Alabama history: ‘Big Alice’ began producing iron in Birmingham

On this day in Alabama history: ‘Big Alice’ began producing iron in Birmingham
Industrial scene near Ensley, Alabama, February 1937. Ensley was founded by Enoch Ensley with the hope that it would be a center for manufacturing and steel production. (Photograph taken by Arthur Rothstein, USDA, Wikipedia)

July 24, 1883

Alice Furnace No. 2, or ‘Big Alice,’ began producing iron in Birmingham for the Pratt Coal & Coke Co. Financed by Henry DeBardeleben and T.T. Hillman, the company built the Alice Furnaces specifically to use ore and coke available locally in the Jones Valley. The blast furnaces became the first commercially successful iron-making operation in the city. In 1886, the Tennessee Coal, Iron and Railroad acquired the furnaces and used them to become the most significant iron and steel company in the city. Big Alice was dismantled in 1929, and the site now serves as the home of Golden Flake Snack Foods.

Read more at Encyclopedia of Alabama.

For more on Alabama’s Bicentennial, visit Alabama 200.

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