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

When Pig Iron was King

 
 
When Pig Iron was King Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Craig Swain, October 7, 2007
1. When Pig Iron was King Marker
Inscription.  The Elizabeth Furnace Cabin
This cabin is one of the few wooden structures remaining from the early 1800s when Elizabeth Furnace was active and pig iron was king. In its heyday, Elizabeth Furnace pig iron supported an entire community. The Elizabeth Furnace Cabin is a combination of several buildings from that community.

In 1936, the Civilian Conservation Corps began construction on the Elizabeth Furnace Recreation Area. They moved logs from several buildings across Passage Creek and constructed an administration building we now call the Elizabeth Furnace Cabin. You can see the different notching styles on the back south corner of this cabin, an indication that the logs came from five or six buildings.

A Casualty of War
Across Passage Creek are the stone reminders of the once prosperous pig iron industry. Built in the 1830s, Elizabeth Furnace was in operation for approximately 50 years. During the Civil War, the furnace supplied thousands of tons of pig iron to the Confederacy. The furnace was destroyed in 1864 when Federal troops penetrated the upper end of Fort Valley during the battle of Cedar Creek on October
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19, 1864. Elizabeth Furnace was rebuilt in 1883 but had no appreciable output and was abandoned in 1888.

Reclaiming the Land
In 1913, the Forest Service acquired the furnace and surrounding land. Hillsides were bare, roads were eroding, and stream channels were fill of debris - all caused by the mining and charcoaling required to operate the furnace. Work began immediately to revegetate this area and protect it from fire. How different these mountains look today, only 100 years after the furnace shut down.

Rehabilitation Efforts
In 1995, with the help of Potomac Appalachian Trail Club volunteers, the Forest Service rehabilitated the cabin. Using traditional hand tools the foundation was strengthened, sections of rotten logs were faced with hand-hewn timbers, the daubing between the logs was replaired, and the shingles were replaced with cedar shakes. This important historic landmark should now resist the ravages of time for another 100 years.
 
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: EnvironmentIndustry & Commerce. In addition, it is included in the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) series list. A significant historical month for this entry is October 1933.
 
Location. 38° 55.582′ N, 78° 19.864′ W. Marker is in Fort Valley, Virginia, in Shenandoah County. Marker can be reached
Ruins of old iron furnace at Elizabeth Furnace image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Linda Walcroft, circa November 2005
2. Ruins of old iron furnace at Elizabeth Furnace
from Fort Valley Road (County Route 678), on the right when traveling south. Located in the Elizabeth Furnace Recreation Area. The marker is reached along the walking trail, headed west from the parking lot, after crossing the foot bridge over Passage Creek. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Fort Valley VA 22652, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 5 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Shenandoah County / Warren County (approx. 3˝ miles away); State Fish Hatchery (approx. 3.7 miles away); "Lest We Forget!" (approx. 4.4 miles away); The Great Train Raid (approx. 4.4 miles away); Civil War Strasburg (approx. 4.4 miles away); The Great Train Raid of 1861 (approx. 4.4 miles away); Strasburg Stone & Earthenware Mfg. Co. (approx. 4.4 miles away); Signal Knob (approx. 4˝ miles away).
 
More about this marker. The marker displays drawings of the cabin as rebuilt in 1936 and of the furnace ruins. A photograph on the lower right side shows the 1995 rehabilitation.
 
Also see . . .  Elizabeth Furnace Recreation Area. The area is administered by the Lee Ranger District, George Washington National Forest. (Submitted on October 23, 2007, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.) 
 
Footbridge on Trail to Cabin image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Craig Swain, October 7, 2007
3. Footbridge on Trail to Cabin
Elizabeth Furnace Cabin image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Craig Swain, October 7, 2007
4. Elizabeth Furnace Cabin
Side view of cabin image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Linda Walcroft, November 7, 2007
5. Side view of cabin
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. It was originally submitted on October 23, 2007, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. This page has been viewed 3,029 times since then and 84 times this year. Photos:   1. submitted on October 23, 2007, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.   2. submitted on February 12, 2008, by Linda Walcroft of Woodstock, Virginia.   3, 4. submitted on October 23, 2007, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.   5. submitted on February 11, 2008, by Linda Walcroft of Woodstock, Virginia.

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Apr. 12, 2024