The Elizabeth Furnace Cabin
This cabin is one of the few wooden structures remaining from the early 1800s when Elizabeth Furnace was active and pig iron was king. In its heyday, Elizabeth Furnace pig iron supported an entire community. The Elizabeth Furnace Cabin is a combination of several buildings from that community.
In 1936, the Civilian Conservation Corps began construction on the Elizabeth Furnace Recreation Area. They moved logs from several buildings across Passage Creek and constructed an administration building we now call the Elizabeth Furnace Cabin. You can see the different notching styles on the back south corner of this cabin, an indication that the logs came from five or six buildings.
A Casualty of War
Across Passage Creek are the stone reminders of the once prosperous pig iron industry. Built in the 1830s, Elizabeth Furnace was in operation for approximately 50 years. During the Civil War, the furnace supplied thousands of tons of pig iron to the Confederacy. The furnace was destroyed in 1864 when Federal troops penetrated the upper end of Fort Valley during the battle of Cedar Creek on October 19, 1864. Elizabeth Furnace was rebuilt in 1883 but had no appreciable output and was abandoned in 1888.
Reclaiming the Land
In 1913, the Forest Service acquired the furnace and surrounding land. Hillsides were bare, roads were eroding, and stream channels were fill of debris - all caused by the mining and charcoaling required to operate the furnace. Work began immediately to revegetate this area and protect it from fire. How different these mountains look today, only 100 years after the furnace shut down.
In 1995, with the help of Potomac Appalachian Trail Club volunteers, the Forest Service rehabilitated the cabin. Using traditional hand tools the foundation was strengthened, sections of rotten logs were faced with hand-hewn timbers, the daubing between the logs was replaired, and the shingles were replaced with cedar shakes. This important historic landmark should now resist the ravages of time for another 100 years.