Iron & Steel Museum of Alabama

Museum Hours:

10 a.m. to 4 p.m. 7 days a week

Learning Center School Field Trips during the Spring and Fall. Please call to reserve a field trip or other group visits.


$2 with regular gate admission



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The Iron & Steel Museum of Alabama is a southeastern regional interpretive center on 19th century iron making featuring both belt driven machines of the 1800s and tools and products of the times. It focuses on the Roupes Valley Ironworks at Tannehill which operated nearby, first as a bloomery beginning in 1830 and later as an important battery of charcoal blast furnaces during the Civil War. The ironworks gave birth to the Birmingham Iron & Steel District.

ordnance collection
One of the best collections of Confederate ordnance can be found at the Tannehill museum including shells actually in the inventory of Maj. Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest.

Along with Tannehill artifacts that have survived, museum exhibits graphically demonstrate how iron was made during the Civil War when 13 different iron companies and six rolling mills made Alabama the arsenal of the Confederacy. During the last two years of the war, Alabama furnaces produced 70% of the Confederate iron supply. Exhibits include a display of rare CS artillery projectiles manufactured at the Selma Arsenal and Gun Works, a part of the Steve Phillips Collection, along with Civil War weaponry actually used in battle including a 52 Cal. U.S. Spencer Repeater.

The Tannehill museum, which includes 13,000 square feet of floor space, first opened in 1981. It underwent a major make-over of exhibits in 2004-05. New exhibits include one of the oldest steam engines in America, a power source once used on a rice plantation in South Carolina. The 1835 Dotterer engine was a part of the collection acquired by Henry Ford in the 1920s and was formerly exhibited at the Henry Ford Museum at Greenfield Village. It is similar to the Tannehill blast engine once in place here.

museum opening
Ceremonies marking the opening of new exhibits at the Iron & Steel Museum attracted a large turnout November 15, 2005.

Other displays feature a complete mid-1800s machine shop including a Townsend cannon lathe dating to 1864 and a Putnam planer built in 1860. The shop’s steam engine dates to 1870. Visitors can also see original parts of the Six Mile Bloomery Forge dating to 1863 including one of the few helve hammers in the United States. Exhibits also focus on geology, furnace fuels, cookware and Birmingham’s cast iron pipe industry which today accounts for over half of the U. S. output.

Various interactive displays bring the viewer into historical environments. The museum has a 25-seat theatre, gift shop and a timeline which traces growth of the iron trade from ancient Egypt to U.S. Steel’s modern Fairfield Works in Birmingham.

Behind the museum, visit the May Plantation Cotton Gin House which dates to 1858, and the heavy industrial display building which houses artifacts from Birmingham steel mills of the 1930s-1950s.

dotterer steam engine

This 1835 Dotterer Steam Engine, once used on a rice plantation near Charleston, S. C., is similar to the engine which supplied the air blast at the Tannehill Ironworks.


Bloomery exhibit at Tannehill used original parts of the Six Mile Forge (Bibb County, 1863) to demonstrate early iron making process. Catalan forges such as this first began appearing in Alabama in the 1820s.

portable steam engine

Gaar-Scott Portable Steam Engine, 1869-1870.

dotterer steam engine

Slag pot from US Steel's Ensley Works, ca 1960s. The rail mill closed in 1981.


1927 Fordson Tractor with metal wheels. Fordson was a brand name used on a range of mass produced all-purpose tractors manufactured by Henry Ford and Son from 1917 until 1920 when it was merged into the Ford Motor Company,

portable steam engine

1880-1890 era cast iron water pipe made in Birmingham.


Tannehill and the Growth of the Alabama Iron Industry

—by James R. Bennett


When Jackson was president and cotton was king, Alabama was still in its industrial infancy. Fortunes awaited those who would unlock the state's vast mineral resources and build upon them furnaces and factories then only located in far away places.

Tannehill & the Growth of the Alabama Iron Industry is that story, an encyclopedic account of iron mongers and investors who, beginning with the Cedar Creek Furnace in 1815, made the state the "Arsenal of the Confederacy" during the Civil War. While Wilson's Raid would leave a dozen war time furnaces in ruin, their consuming fires would ignite a major resurgence of the industry at a place called Birmingham in the 1880s.

Jim Bennett does a splendid job in writing the account for which he received the prestigious Coley Award from the Alabama Historical Association as the best local history of 2000. This fascinating book, now in its second printing, is a beautiful 8 1/2 x 11 comprehensive history with 488 pages lavishly illustrated with over 260 photographs and maps which can be ordered in paper back or hardcover.

PAPER BACK: $35.00


Please add a $4.00 postage and handling fee for the first book and $2 for each additional book ordered. U.S. only. Checks, money orders, VISA and MasterCard are accepted.

To order this book and all others use our order form links below and send completed form with payment payable to Tannehill Ironworks Historical State Park. If paying by credit card, please be sure to include the card number and expiration date. Include your name, address and telephone number and the quantity of books you wish to order. Mail your request to the following address:

Tannehill Ironworks
C/O Book order
12632 Confederate Parkway
McCalla, AL 35111

For more information call (205) 477-5711

——————————————————————  Other Titles Available   ——————————————————————


Tannehill Ironworks – Images of America

— by James R. Bennett

This new book by James R. Bennett tells the story with over 200 historical photographs with an interesting narrative of the Tannehill Ironworks and its brown ore mines from 1830 to the 1960s. Published by the Arcadia Publishing Company, this 128 page book also covers with pictures the site archaeology and restoration of the Tannehill Ironworks and its re-firing as part of the American Bicentennial in 1976.

PAPER BACK: $21.99        Book Order Form


Iron & Steel:

A Driving Guide to the Birmingham Area Industrial Heritage

— by James R. Bennett and Karen R. Utz

This guidebook of historic iron-production sites is designed to give the reader a factual and illuminating look at the people and events that shaped Birmingham into one of America’s leading steel centers. Iron & Steel is heavily illustrated with both color and historical black-and-white photographs. It can be used while visiting parks or read as a coherent volume before or after a visit.

PAPER BACK: $19.95        Book Order Form


Tannehill Ghost Stories and Other Selected Shorts:

As told by patrons of Tannehil Ironworks Historical State Park

— by James R. Bennett

A book of Alabama folklore detailing 26 ghost stories tangentially associated with the Tannehill Ironworks and the Birmingham iron and steel district. Heavily illustrated, this volume includes 132 pages. Published by the Seacoast Publishing Company, this is a book that's fun to read leaving the reader to decide if the paranormal exists or if unexplained happenings have some other logical explanation. It will strain your imagination in a delightful way.

PAPER BACK: $15.00        Book Order Form


Alabama Blast Furnaces

With new introduction by James R. Bennett

— by Joseph H. Woodward II, Woodward Iron Company, Birmingham, Alabama, 1940.

Alabama Blast Furnaces is a 2007 University of Alabama Press reprint of the original 1940 book that was written by Joseph H Woodward II. of the Woodward Iron Company with a new Introduction by James R. Bennett (author of Tannehill & the Growth of the Alabama Iron Industry).

PAPER BACK: $19.95        Book Order Form


The Story of Coal and Iron in Alabama

With new introduction by James R. Bennett

— by Ethel Armes

The Story of Coal and Iron in Alabama, the classic historical account of the Alabama iron and coal industry written by Ethel Armes in 1910 with a new introduction by James R. Bennett who gives an account of Miss Armes and how she came to write this epic work.This book has recently been reprinted by the University of Alabama Press.

PAPER BACK: $48.50        Book Order Form

The Birmingham Historical Society presented the museum its award for exemplary collections and exhibits in 2005.

Consulting Archaeologist: Jack R. Bergstresser, Sr., PhD
Historian: Jim Bennett, MA

Tannehill Ironworks Historical State Park
12632 Confederate Parkway
McCalla, Alabama 35111
(205) 477-5711
Fax: (205) 477-9400

Click Here to Email: Museum Director