Just down the road from Jerome, Virginia
lies the Henrietta Furnace for making iron.
These furnaces dot the western edge of the Shenandoah Valley
and have long intrigued me for their imposing stonework.
Starting in the 17th century the state of Virginia
became a producer of iron that was originally shipped back to England.
When the Shenandoah Valley was settled in the early 18th century,
it possessed the key ingredients to continue that industry-
iron ore, limestone flux, charcoal fuel made from the abundant timber,
water to power a bellows, stone to build a furnace,
and the Shenandoah River to barge the iron to seaports on the Potomac River
(later taken over by the rail roads).
These stone ruins are all that is left of an industry that dominated the area,
and must have been a major employer,
but also devastated the forests and fouled the air.
And today all we have are beautiful stone ruins.
Watch your head.
What long ago person peered out this window?
Note the cracks in the corner stones,
presumably from the immense weight above.
I believe the fuel and all materials were loaded from the top,
(need a steep hill),
but I am not sure how these chambers were used other than to supply air.
I am not sure how the iron would be gathered after the smelting,
but the term pig iron came from the shape of the ingots.
Did the stones at the bottom fall in
or were they placed to keep people out?
A couple of sites for further reading:
Jim Patrick And Shenandoah's Past for further info,
We will have a pop quiz tomorrow.
To see more on this area go to
LABELS - PEOPLE, BOOKS, AND OTHER PLACES
on the right side bar and click on
Shenandoah Valley Of Virginia.