5B - Birmingham

Click on maps below to view larger individual images

Click to view complete high-resolution versions:       Map 5B       Image 5B

birmingham closeup infrared
birmingham topo detail
Birmingham Infrared Aerial Photo
Birmingham Topographic MapĀ 

Birmingham (Topo Map)
Birmingham (NHAP)
Sloss  Furnaces 
(National Historic Landmark)
birmingham topo thumb
birmingham photo thumb
sloss furnaces thumb


Birmingham and its surroundings are defined by an abundance of mineral resources that allowed the city to grow into a successful steel mill town and become the major heavy industrial center of the South. The geologic structures underlying the Valley and Ridge Region brought many different rock types with extensive deposits of coal, limestone, and iron ore into close proximity with each other. Unfortunately, many of these same geological factors also contributed to quality issues with these raw materials that would eventually limit productivity and undermine the competitiveness of Birmingham Steel versus that of steel companies in the north. Impurities in some of these resources also created pollution problems around the city that are still being dealt with today. Under the leadership of James W. Sloss, founder of the Sloss Furnace Company, the city of Birmingham grew up around the steel mill, and the small mill town grew into a prosperous city and a major railroad hub that would supply steel and other industrial commodities to the post Civil War South.


  • Mining activities and environmental consequences
  • How the iron and steel industry shaped Birmingham

Content Outline

  • Rationale
  • Performance Objectives
  • Assessment Rubrics
  • Newspaper Article
  • Study Area Description

Activity Titles

All activities include

  • Power Thinking Exercise
  • Materials
  • Performance Tasks
  • Enrichment
  1. Mining Activities
  2. Growth and Decline of a Steel Mill Town

5B Photo