Pell City Municipal Complex

The Pell City Municipal Complex, home of the Pell City Public Library. 

PELL CITY -- Ty Malugani, education coordinator for the Sloss Furnaces National Historic Landmark, will present, “Spirit of Steel: Music of the Mines, Mills and Railroads of the Birmingham District,” at the Pell City Public Library next Wednesday, according to a press release.

Malugani will present the program about railroad workers, miners and mill hands who came to Birmingham in the late 19th century, bringing traditional songs and spirituals with them from their native Black Belt cotton fields and Appalachian towns. The program is slated for noon Wednesday.  

This music enriched their lives, serving as a source of comfort and inspiration by lifting their spirits and easing their burdens.   

An educational resource was produced in 1999 by the Sloss Furnaces National Historic Landmark entitled, “Spirit of Steel: Music of the Mines, Railroads and Mills of the Birmingham District.”

It was the work of a group of folklorists and music scholars who realized the importance of preserving the unique songs and labor-related music of this particular time and place. In addition, this resource preserved the rich histories and personal recollections of the individuals behind the music, as well as their unique traditions and culture.

Malugani’s presentation will include those personal stories, as well as delightful samplings of the labor-related music, ranging from union songs and old-time fiddling to soulful ballads and heart-rending blues.  

The program is free and part of the library’s ongoing Wild and Wonderful Wednesday series. Light refreshments will be served after the program.

Sloss Furnace, a Birmingham-based iron-manufacturing complex, was once the largest manufacturer of pig iron in the world. Established in 1881 by Col. James W. Sloss, a railroad developer from Athens in Limestone County, Sloss Furnace was in operation from 1882-1970 and has the distinction of being the longest continually-running blast furnace in Birmingham history.

It was declared a national landmark in 1981, offering visitors insight into Birmingham’s rich industrial heritage through educational tours, classes and special events.