“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Near Thurmont in Frederick County, Maryland — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)

Catoctin Iron Furnace

No Time For War

Catoctin Iron Furnace - No Time For War Marker Photo, Click for full size
By Craig Swain, July 1, 2007
1. Catoctin Iron Furnace - No Time For War Marker
Inscription. Gettysburg Campaign
When Union Gen. John F. Reynolds’ I Corps marched by here on June 29, 1863, en route to Emmitsburg and soon to Gettysburg, his men were progressing “swimmingly.” The workers of the Catoctin Furnace had little time to notice, since the charcoal furnaces were in full blast.

The landscape then looked much different than it does today. The air was filled with smoke and ash and smelled like rotten eggs, while temperatures inside the casting sheds reached upwards of 120 degrees. The mountainside was barren because it took an acre of trees a day to produce the charcoal needed to keep one furnace in blast. Large pits had been dug around the area to mine the valuable iron ore, and there were large piles of slag, the byproduct of iron making, scattered in every direction.

During the Civil War, John Baker Kunkel owned Catoctin Furnace. With two furnaces in operation, production was never interrupted during the war, and the furnace workers shipped three tons of pig iron a day east to the larger arsenals and forges that made war material. Iron produced here was used in the manufacturing of ironclad ships like USS Monitor. Employees worked around the clock in 12-hour shifts, earning credit at the company store. According to local tradition, lost and disoriented soldiers from both sides making
The Isabella Furnace Stands Behind the Marker Photo, Click for full size
By Craig Swain, July 1, 2007
2. The Isabella Furnace Stands Behind the Marker
The only remaining furnace at the site had carried the name "Isabella."
their way south after the Battle of Gettysburg were offered jobs here because of the chronic labor shortage.
Marker series. This marker is included in the Maryland Civil War Trails marker series.
Location. 39° 34.419′ N, 77° 25.864′ W. Marker is near Thurmont, Maryland, in Frederick County. Marker is at the intersection of Blacks Mill Road and Catoctin Furnace Road (Maryland Route 806) on Blacks Mill Road. Click for map. The furnace stands inside an extension of Cunningham Falls State Park. Marker is in this post office area: Thurmont MD 21788, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 5 other markers are within 3 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Catoctin Furnace (here, next to this marker); "Isabella" and Casting Shed (within shouting distance of this marker); a different marker also named Catoctin Iron Furnace (within shouting distance of this marker); Lewistown (approx. 2.4 miles away); Cunningham Falls (approx. 2.6 miles away). Click for a list of all markers in Thurmont.
More about this marker. The marker displays a 19th Century photo of Catoctin Furnace, courtesy of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.

A picture of the Catoctin supply store was furnished by the Thurmont Historical Society.

The marker also features
Isabella's Stack Photo, Click for full size
By Craig Swain, July 1, 2007
3. Isabella's Stack
Built in 1858, this was the second of three stacks built. Steam pistons created a blast of air to fan the fires of the furnace. When working at full capacity, Isabella produced 3300 tons of iron a year.
a picture of Gen. John Reynolds and a map of the Gettysburg campaign with the caption, "Position of the Union Army of the Potomac June 29, 1863 (midday). New Union commander Gen. George G. Meade orders his army north with two objectives: Engage the Confederate army under the best possible conditions while protecting Washington D.C. Learning that the Union army was close and getting closer, Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee orders his army to consolidate somewhere near the Maryland-Pennsylvania border."
Related markers. Click here for a list of markers that are related to this marker. To better understand the relationship, study each marker in the order shown.
Also see . . .
1. National Park Service site on Catoctin Furnace. (Submitted on July 3, 2007, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.)
2. Cunningham Falls State Park. (Submitted on July 3, 2007, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.)
3. Video Tour of Catoctin Furnace. (Submitted on July 3, 2007, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.)
Additional keywords. Gettysburg Campaign
Categories. Industry & CommerceWar, US Civil
Slag Heap Photo, Click for full size
By Craig Swain, July 1, 2007
4. Slag Heap
One of many remaining slag heaps in the surrounding area.
View of the Furnace and Work Shed Photo, Click for full size
By Craig Swain, July 1, 2007
5. View of the Furnace and Work Shed
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. This page has been viewed 2,651 times since then. Last updated on , by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on , by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. • J. J. Prats was the editor who published this page. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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