Australia Furnace

Australia Furnace (HM21FQ)

Location: Clifton Forge, VA 24422 Alleghany County
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Country: United States of America
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N 37° 48.62', W 79° 40.814'

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Alleghany Iron for the Confederacy

Australia Furnace, located just east of here, produced pig iron for the Tredegar Iron Works—"Ironmaker to the Confederacy"—during the Civil War. Ira and Edwin Jordan had begun constructing Australia Furnace in 1852; two years later, they put it in operation. Australia was a "hot blast" furnace that used preheated air during the process of smelting iron from ore to increase production. The technology to produce the hot blast was relatively simple, and Northern ironmasters began using it before those in the South. Cold-blast furnaces, which generally employed water-powered bellows to pump air without preheating, could not compete, and some closed in the 1850s.

The outbreak of the Civil War cut off trade with Northern iron manufacturers and forced the Confederacy to rely more than usual on Southern suppliers. To ensure a reliable stream of raw materials, Confederate Gen. Joseph R. Anderson, who owned the Tredegar Iron Works in Richmond, purchased several ironworks, including Australia Furnace (April 1862). The workers used a steam engine to preheat the air and to operate the bellows. The engine gave Australia Furnace an advantage over other furnaces that relied solely on water power, which might not be available during winter or dry summers.

At the Tredegar works, Anderson employed
both Anderson employed both free white and black slave labor. Here at Australia, slaves filled every furnace occupation from common laborers to skilled engineers. Wagons moved Australia's pig iron to the James River and Kanawha Canal near Eagle Rock, where boats took it to Tredegar to be cast or forged into cannons, munitions, and railroad equipment.

For visitor information please contact the Alleghany Highlands Chamber of Commerce & Tourism at 540-962-2178 or visit our website at The Visitors Center is located at 110 Mall Road, Covington, VA.

Blast furnace cross-section: bridge and charging hole at the top of the stack; bosh filled with charcoal, ore, and limestone; bellows that introduced the hot air blast; and the crucible where the iron pooled and then flowed into long channels (sows) with many shorter ones (pigs) - Courtesy Washington and Lee University
Gen. Joseph R. Anderson Courtesy Library of Congress
Tredegar Iron Works, Richmond, Virginia, April 1865 Courtesy Library of Congress
Tredegar Iron Works- owned forges, furnaces, and coal mines during the Civil War.
HM NumberHM21FQ
Series This marker is part of the Virginia Civil War Trails series
Placed ByVirginia Civil War Trails
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Tuesday, September 5th, 2017 at 7:03am PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)17S E 616172 N 4185591
Decimal Degrees37.81033333, -79.68023333
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 37° 48.62', W 79° 40.814'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds37° 48' 37.2" N, 79° 40' 48.84" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)540
Which side of the road?Marker is on the right when traveling West
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 6309 Longdale Furnace Rd, Clifton Forge VA 24422, US
Alternative Maps Google Maps, MapQuest, Bing Maps, Yahoo Maps, MSR Maps, OpenCycleMap, MyTopo Maps, OpenStreetMap

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