“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Near Spotsylvania in Spotsylvania County, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)

Catharine Furnace

Catharine Furnace Marker image. Click for full size.
February 2, 2006
1. Catharine Furnace Marker
Inscription. The stone stack in front of you is all that remains of the Catharine Furnace, built in 1837. Close a decade later, the furnace was reborn to meet the Confederacy’s wartime need for iron. Union cavalrymen under General George A. Custer destroyed the furnace in 1864, but it was rebuilt and continued to produce iron for the Confederacy until 1865. Catharine Furnace was the last of the region’s several major operations to close.

During its years of operation, Catharine Furnace used many buildings and employed dozens of laborers. Workers cut and hauled wood, excavated iron ore and lime, operated the furnace, and hauled the finished iron to market. When not needed for furnace operations, workers cultivated land previously cleared of timber.

(Sidebar) Iron-making required four elements: iron ore, limestone, charcoal, and a source of power. Fueled by charcoal and fanned by a bellows, the furnace reached temperatures in excess of 2,800 degrees. Deposits of iron ore were dumped down the stack onto the fire. Lime was then added to draw impurities from the molten iron. The super-heated iron and lime deposits melted and ran out the bottom of the stack. Workers skimmed off the impurities (slag) and channeled the purified iron into sand molds. The solid iron bars that resulted, known as pigs, were then transported to a
Drawing of the Furnace in Operation image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, November 10, 2007
2. Drawing of the Furnace in Operation
forge elsewhere, where skilled craftsmen fashioned them into pots, kettles, tools and other useful items.
Erected by The Battle of Chancellorsville, Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park, National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior.
Location. 38° 17.336′ N, 77° 38.882′ W. Marker is near Spotsylvania, Virginia, in Spotsylvania County. Marker is at the intersection of Jackson Trail East and Sickles Drive, on the right when traveling south on Jackson Trail East. Click for map. Jackson Trail East is an unpaved road. Marker is at the junction of Furnance Road, Sickles Drive and Jackson Trail East. Marker is in this post office area: Spotsylvania VA 22553, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. A Region of Gloom (here, next to this marker); Jackson's Flank March (here, next to this marker); Chancellorsville Campaign (approx. 0.2 miles away); About a mile in the distance... (approx. half a mile away); Birthplace of Matthew Fontaine Maury (1806-1873) (approx. half a mile away); a different marker also named Chancellorsville Campaign (approx.
Former Catharine Furnace Marker image. Click for full size.
By David Graff, June 18, 1997
3. Former Catharine Furnace Marker
Previous version of this marker.
0.6 miles away); Maury House Trail (approx. 0.6 miles away); Matthew Fontaine Maury (approx. 0.6 miles away). Click for a list of all markers in Spotsylvania.
More about this marker. The right side of the marker, including the sidebar, displays a drawing of the furnace as it appeared in operation. Important buildings are annotated on the drawing. On the lower left is a a photo "detail of an iron 'pig' produced at Catharine Furnace."
Regarding Catharine Furnace. This is one of several markers for the Battle of Chancellorsville along McLaws Drive, Furnace Road, Sickles Drive, and East Jackson Trail, on the east side of the battlefield. See the McLaws's Line to Catharine Furnace Virtual Tour by Markers in the links section for a listing of related markers on the tour.
Also see . . .
1. Battle of Chancellorsville. National Parks Service site. (Submitted on November 17, 2007, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.) 

2. Archaeology at Catharine Furnace. (Submitted on November 17, 2007, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.)
3. McLaws's Line to Catharine Furnace Virtual Tour by Markers. Spread
Catharine Furnace Blast Furnace image. Click for full size.
September 22, 2007
4. Catharine Furnace Blast Furnace
across a two mile segment on the east side of the battlefield, this virtual tour by markers covers action from May 1-3, 1863. (Submitted on November 15, 2007, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.) 
Categories. Industry & CommerceWar, US Civil
Catharine Furnace Site image. Click for full size.
February 2, 2006
5. Catharine Furnace Site
Credits. This page originally submitted on . This page has been viewed 1,343 times since then and 69 times this year. Photos:   1. submitted on .   2. submitted on , by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.   3. submitted on , by David Graff of Halifax, Nova Scotia.   4, 5. submitted on . • J. J. Prats was the editor who published this page. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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