Catoctin Iron FurnaceA Village and Its Resources:
"Isabella", the furnace stack before you, was built in 1858 and was the second of three stacks. The first furnace, built in 1776, was probably located behind "Isabella" and used water power from Little Hunting Creek to operate its bellows. "Isabella" and the third stack "Deborah" (dismantled) used steam driven pistons to create the blast of air which fanned the fire within the furnace. All three furnaces had different capacities and "Isabella" produced up to 3300 tons of pig iron annually.
The Iron Making Process:
The operation of the furnace involved several steps. First, the furnace stack was filled from the top with a thick layer of charcoal, a layer of iron ore, and finally limestone to act as a flux mixing with the impurities in the iron ore creating slag.
The furnace was then heated to 3000 degrees F to melt the iron ore. The furnace operated 24 hours a day when making iron. Approximately every 12 hours, foundry men tapped the furnace. Molten iron flowed into channels on the floor of the casting shed. The molten iron was allowed to harden into iron pigs or cast into wooden molds. The name "pig" iron came from the shape which reminded foundry men of a sow suckling a litter of pigs. Iron was made into many items such as cannon shells, stoves, tools nails, and wheels.
The 200 foot rock retaining wall once supported many wooden building and sheds which housed the raw materials for iron-making. The wall and furnace stack were constructed of local fieldstone hand cut by stone masons. The casting shed with the wood-shingle roof was reconstructed in 1975. All other stone remains are original.
Imagine yourself standing here when "Isabella" as alive. Noise and clatter surrounds you. The air smells of smoke and rotten eggs (sulfur). A fine red dust from iron oxide (rust) and clay sprinkle on and around you. The air is almost always hot.
|Marker Condition||No reports yet|
|Date Added||Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014 at 12:38pm PDT -07:00|
|UTM (WGS84 Datum)||18S E 291168 N 4383278|
|Decimal Degrees||39.57380000, -77.43130000|
|Degrees and Decimal Minutes||N 39° 34.428', W 77° 25.878'|
|Degrees, Minutes and Seconds||39° 34' 25.68" N, 77° 25' 52.68" W|
|Driving Directions||Google Maps|
|Area Code(s)||301, 240|
|Closest Postal Address||At or near 6802 Blacks Mill Rd, Thurmont MD 21788, US|
|Alternative Maps||Google Maps, MapQuest, Bing Maps, Yahoo Maps, MSR Maps, OpenCycleMap, MyTopo Maps, OpenStreetMap|
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