Industry & Trade
— Historic Settlements —The Furnace ComplexAll that remains standing of the Howell Works furnace is the brick stack you see beyond the hill in front of you. In the first half of the 19th century, a large complex of three connected buildings, the bridge house, the casting shed, and the wheelhouse, provided the framework for production of pig iron and cast iron.The furnace operated twenty-four hours a day, with two twelve-hour shifts for workers. Sunday and part of Saturday were time off, though the furnace was kept in burn seven days a week. A typical "season" lasted nine or ten months a year, but longer runs were known, especially in times of economic instability.Furnace OperationsThe stack was kept loaded through an opening near its top, with layers of bog iron ore, charcoal, and seashells (flux). Air was piped into the bottom of the stack through pipes called "tuyeres," which kept the charcoal burning at a constant rate and high temperature.By the time the mixture reached a temperature near 3,000 degrees, the layers melted. The iron separated from impurities in the ore and collected at the bottom of the stack in the crucible. From there it would be shaped, either in the dirt floor into bars or "pigs," or into molds for finished cast iron pieces such as kettles or stove plates.The Bridge HouseThis building was located on the level on which you are standing. A sloped ramp or bridge inside this building led up to the opening called the charging hole, located near the top of the stack. This ramp enabled the workers to load charcoal, bog iron ore, and flux (seashells) into the furnace.The WheelhouseThis building enclosed a large water wheel, which powered air pumps with pipes leading into the casting shed. In order to keep the charcoal in the furnace burning at a constant rate, air needed to be pumped into the furnace stack. The air pumps originally were huge bellows. They were later replaced by piston-like pumps.The Casting ShedLocated at the bottom of the bluff was the largest building of the complex, housing the furnace stack and two smaller cupola furnaces. The brick building had a high ceiling, stretching up for several stories to allow heat and gases to disperse. Windows allowed light to penetrate the steamy darkness. The floor was sandy soil used for casting pig iron and large items such as bells and cauldrons.
|Placed By||National Park Service, State of New Jersey|
|Marker Condition||No reports yet|
|Date Added||Thursday, April 23rd, 2015 at 6:01pm PDT -07:00|
|UTM (WGS84 Datum)||18T E 574386 N 4445398|
|Decimal Degrees||40.15565000, -74.12656667|
|Degrees and Decimal Minutes||N 40° 9.339', W 74° 7.594'|
|Degrees, Minutes and Seconds||40° 9' 20.34" N, 74° 7' 35.64" W|
|Driving Directions||Google Maps|
|Which side of the road?||Marker is on the right when traveling East|
|Closest Postal Address||At or near Freehold and Jamesburg Railroad Trail, Wall Township NJ 07727, US|
|Alternative Maps||Google Maps, MapQuest, Bing Maps, Yahoo Maps, MSR Maps, OpenCycleMap, MyTopo Maps, OpenStreetMap|
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