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

Iron Furnace Overlook

1619-1622

 

—Falling Creek Ironworks Park —

 
Iron Furnace Overlook Marker image. Click for full size.
By Bernard Fisher, January 25, 2017
1. Iron Furnace Overlook Marker
Inscription. This is the location of the first iron furnace established in the New World, started in 1619 and completed in 1622. Iron ore had been extracted from James River outcrops as early as 1608, and these samples were shipped to England. The Virginia Company of London had aspirations of expanding trade, exploiting the natural resources of this region and establishing the first system of private land ownership.

The ironworks were to be the first in the Western Hemisphere to smelt iron ore into pig iron. It was the beginning of American heavy industry. The location for the iron furnace at Falling Creek was chosen due to the 10-foot-high head of water and its abundance. In 1619, Captain Benjamin Bluett led an expedition of 150 men under commission of the Virginia Company to establish a full scale iron smelting works. Bluett died shortly after arrival. A large number of the workers also succumbed to the harsh conditions.

In 1621, a second expedition was organized and led by iron-master John Berkeley. Berkeley, along with his son Maurice and 22 workers, including an apothecary, were tasked to "Finish the ironworks and begin production." Berkeley wrote that he would have a plentiful supply of iron by “Whitsuntide next” (June 1622).

However, on March 22, 1622, Chief Opechancanough of the Powhatan
Falling Creek Ironworks Park Kiosk image. Click for full size.
By Bernard Fisher, January 25, 2017
2. Falling Creek Ironworks Park Kiosk
Nation executed a carefully planned attack on all the European settlements along the James River, killing every worker at Falling Creek, destroying machinery and leaving the works in ruins.

In 1750, Archibald Cary established the Chesterfield Forge to produce bar iron from pig iron on the same site. His operation was shut down and then reopened for the Revolutionary War. Benedict Arnold destroyed it in 1781.

(captions)
Furnace views
Painting by Sydney King depicting the 1622 Good Friday Massacre at Falling Creek Ironworks
 
Erected 2016 by Falling Creek Ironworks Foundation, Chesterfield Heritage Alliance.
 
Location. 37° 26.283′ N, 77° 26.277′ W. Marker is near Richmond, Virginia, in Chesterfield County. Marker can be reached from the intersection of Jefferson Davis Highway (U.S. 1) and Marina Drive, on the right when traveling north. Touch for map. Located in Falling Creek Ironworks Park. Marker is at or near this postal address: 6407 Jefferson Davis Hwy, Richmond VA 23237, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Cary’s Mill Overlook (here, next to this marker); Natural History (here, next to this marker); Cultural History
Falling Creek Ironworks Park image. Click for full size.
By Bernard Fisher
3. Falling Creek Ironworks Park
(a few steps from this marker); Historic Village of Bensley (a few steps from this marker); Historic Route 1 (a few steps from this marker); Falling Creek Stone Bridge (a few steps from this marker); a different marker also named Natural History (a few steps from this marker); a different marker also named Historic Village of Bensley (within shouting distance of this marker). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Richmond.
 
Also see . . .  Falling Creek Ironworks Foundation. (Submitted on January 26, 2017.)
 
Categories. Colonial EraIndustry & CommerceNative AmericansWar, US Revolutionary
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on January 26, 2017. This page originally submitted on January 26, 2017, by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia. This page has been viewed 187 times since then. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on January 26, 2017, by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia.
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