James "Slag" Wormwood was a foreman at Sloss Furnace and was in charge of nearly 150 men that were forced to work in unbearable conditions. Temperatures would reach well into the one hundreds. The workers could barely see in the dark conditions of the furnace and their eyes burned from the sweat that the high temperatures produced. Most of the workers had no choice but to work feeding Sloss Furnace with it's much needed coal. They were immigrants. They had no other options if they wanted to feed their families. They were forced to sleep in makeshift barracks and would often be awakened by James "Slag" Wormwood and made to go back to work. There were no labor laws to protect them. Only Slag to torment them.
Slag would often force his poor immigrant workers to perform dangerous duties just to impress his colleagues. Dangerous work conditions had potential to speed up progress and Slag was fine with that. Forty seven workers died under the watch of James "Slag" Wormwood, ten times more than any other shift in the history of the furnace. The injuries were too many to count. Workers were denied breaks. They were often hungry. They were always tired.
The "hell on earth" conditions seemed like they would never end to most under the control of Slag. Until one fateful day when Slag "lost his footing" at the top of the highest furnace and plummeted to his death. His body was said to melt instantly as it hit the iron ore that his workers had slaved to produce. The strange thing was that Slag had never been at the top of the furnace during all his time of employment. Theories suggested that the methane gas produced by Sloss Furnace caused him to become light headed, causing him to slip and fall. Other theories were slightly more sinister.
Many believe that it was the workers who had revolted. Tired of Slag's torment, they dragged him to the top of the furnace and tossed him in. No workers were ever charged with Slags death.
It wasn't long after that workers at Sloss Furnace began to experience odd things. Accidents became more common and the graveyard shift so dangerous that it was done away with. Many claimed that the ghost of Slag had started to inact his vengeance.
As the legend of Slag grew, so did the reports of paranormal activity at Sloss Furnace. A night watchman was pushed from behind by unseen forces and he heard someone yell at him screaming "Get back to work!". Others have felt the presence of Slag and have often described it as pure and absolute evil. One man described seeing a demonic looking creature that attacked him. He had burns on his body where the entity had allegedly hit him with it's fists. Others have heard disembodied voices. Voices demanding that people pick up the pace or "push some steel" have been heard frequently. Most of the most terrifying occurrences have happened during what would have been Slag's shift.
It's no surprise that Sloss Furnace has become a haunted hot spot for paranormal investigators and has been featured on many television shows including "Ghost Hunters" and "Ghost Adventures". Locals believe that James "Slag" Wormwood still reigns over the undead workers at Sloss Furnace. They also believe that he is perfectly willing to get rid of anyone who gets in his way.
By Thomas Shea