“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”

Danbury in Stokes County, North Carolina — The American South (South Atlantic)

Moratock Iron Furnace

Rural Ironworks


— Confederate Lifeline —

Moratock Iron Furnace Marker image. Click for full size.
By Bill Coughlin, August 6, 2010
1. Moratock Iron Furnace Marker
Inscription.  During the Civil War, the Confederacy relied on small rural ironworks for the metals needed to manufacture cannons, swords, and firearms. The furnace here, owned by the Moratock Mining and Manufacturing Company, was typical of the charcoal blast furnaces operated throughout the North Carolina piedmont. It utilized charcoal made from trees cut in the area and local iron-ore deposits to produce pig iron and cast iron. Early in April 1865, Union Gen. George Stoneman’s cavalry moved from Virginia south through Danbury and put the ironworks out of commission. Stoneman had expected to encounter resistance in Stokes County, but found none and soon learned that Gen. Robert E. Lee had surrendered his army in Virginia at Appomattox Court House on April 9. The furnace operated intermittently after 1870 until it closed in the 1890s.

In the 18th and 19th centuries, North Carolinians established small ironworks in this area to exploit the plentiful ore belts. Some early works were bloomery forges, in which burning charcoal melted the iron, and workers used an iron bar to gather the pasty mess, which was then hammered into bar iron.
Marker in Danbury image. Click for full size.
By Bill Coughlin, August 6, 2010
2. Marker in Danbury
The remains of the Moratock Iron Furnace can be seen here behind the marker.
Soon, however, charcoal blast furnaces were constructed against hillsides, and workers trundled iron ore, charcoal, and limestone flux across a short bridge to the furnace stack, dumped the loads into the furnace in layers, and then ignited the charcoal. Giant bellows, typically powered by flowing water, heated the mix to melt large quantities of iron, which pooled at the bottom of the stack. When the ironmaster decided the time was right, the furnace was tapped, and molten iron flowed from the front arch into channels in the sand of the casting floor to form pig iron. Some of the molten iron was poured into molds to produce castings such as pots and firebacks. When the pig iron cooled, it was carried to the forge and hammered into bars.

Nathaniel Moody and John Pepper built “Moody’s Tunnel Iron Works” here in 1843. Reuben Golding, who formed the Stokes Iron Mining Company, purchased the works in 1854. He and his partners incorporated the Moratock Mining and Manufacturing Company in 1862.
Erected by Civil War Trails.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: War, US Civil. In addition, it is included in the Appalachian Iron Furnaces, and the North Carolina Civil War Trails series lists.
Location. 36° 24.489′ 
Marker in Moratock Park image. Click for full size.
By Bill Coughlin, August 6, 2010
3. Marker in Moratock Park
N, 80° 11.868′ W. Marker is in Danbury, North Carolina, in Stokes County. Marker can be reached from Shepherd Mill Road, on the right when traveling east. Marker is located in Moratock Park, near the Dan River. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Danbury NC 27016, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 2 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Moratock Furnace (approx. 0.2 miles away); Gabriel Moore (approx. 0.4 miles away); Stoneman’s Raid (approx. half a mile away); Stack-Bickett Law Office (approx. half a mile away); Stokes County World War I Monument (approx. half a mile away); Stokes County Troops C.S.A (approx. half a mile away); Moody Tavern (approx. half a mile away); Lewis David von Schweinitz (approx. 2 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Danbury.
More about this marker. The left side of the marker features a picture of the Moratock Iron Furnace, by Frank Duncan. The sidebar contains a cross section of a furnace with the caption “Sections through a typical antebellum furnace show (left) a bridge at the top of the stack, the arch at lower right through which the molten iron flowed, and (right) twin arches for the blast from the bellows. From Frederick Overman, The Manufacture of Iron   (1850).”
Also see . . .  Civil War Traveler – Stoneman’s Raid. North Carolina Civil War Trails. (Submitted on August 11, 2010, by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey.) 
Moratock Iron Furnace image. Click for full size.
By Bill Coughlin, August 6, 2010
4. Moratock Iron Furnace
Union Gen. George Stoneman disabled this charcoal furnace during his April 1865 Raid of North Carolina.
Moratock Iron Furnace image. Click for full size.
By Bill Coughlin, August 6, 2010
5. Moratock Iron Furnace
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. It was originally submitted on August 7, 2010, by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey. This page has been viewed 1,314 times since then and 33 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on August 7, 2010, by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey.
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Jul. 15, 2020