Oakland: Bellefield Boiler Plant
CAPTION: Carnegie Institute Boiler Plant.
NOTES: "The twin smokestacks in Panther Hollow
--the older one is 150 feet tall, the newer one 200-plus--
are part of what's officially known as the Bellefield Boiler Plant,
but Pitt grad and hot young writer Michael Chabon more aptly
named it "the Cloud Factory" after its voluminous white
The boiler was the largest plant of its kind when completed
in 1907. Andrew Carnegie built the plant to heat the Carnegie
Library. In the '30s, the system was expanded when Pitt's
plans for a Cathedral boiler were scrapped. The system now
fuels nine separate institutions (including Pitt, the medical
center, Carnegie Mellon, the Carnegie, and the Pittsburgh
Board of Education), strung together via two-and-a-half miles
of underground steel pipe. Laid end-to-end, the pipe could
stretch from Oakland to the North Side.
According to engineer Edward Permar of facilities management,
the boiler uses more than 60,000 tons of clean-burning,
low-sulphur Kentucky coal per year, brought in almost every
day in the winter via 70-ton railroad cars. (A combination of
80 percent coal/20 percent natural gas keeps the plant within
air pollution standards.) At its peak, the boiler generates
175 pounds of pressure per square inch, or 180 thermal
megawatts--in other words, enough steam to heat a small city."(16)
HEADING: Pittsburgh. Carnegie Institute.
From the Collections of the Pennsylvania Department,
The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh.