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Washington in Warren County, New Jersey — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
 

Musconetcong River Valley Double Lime Kiln

 
 
Musconetcong River Valley Double Lime Kiln Marker image. Click for full size.
By Matthew Handley, March 10, 2017
1. Musconetcong River Valley Double Lime Kiln Marker
Inscription.
This double lime kiln is an example of the kilns once found throughout the Musconetcong River Valley. Early settlers farmed an area until its fertility was depleted. By the early 1800s German immigrants introduced the practice of sweetening and enriching their fields with lime burned in kilns to restore the land. During the 19th century kilns of different sizes but similar design could be found on nearly every farmstead, located near outcroppings of limestone which is abundant in the region. Kilns faced with flat fieldstone would be built into a bank of a hill like this one, with a wagon path to the top.

Little is known of the history of this kiln, but its good condition and absence from the 1874 Warren County Atlas indicate its relatively late construction. As a double kiln it likely served several farms, but the evolution of industrial production techniques using gas for fuel caused the rapid abandonment of such kilns during the early 20th century. Most are now gone, dismantled for reuse of their stones or simply collapsed. But others have survived.

From Rock to Fertilizer
Heating limestone (calcium carbonate) converts it to quicklime. The quicklime would be slaked with water resulting in hydrated lime. This powdered lime was easily absorbed by the soil. Farmers didn't know the chemistry,
Musconetcong River Valley Double Lime Kiln Marker image. Click for full size.
By Matthew Handley, March 10, 2017
2. Musconetcong River Valley Double Lime Kiln Marker
but they knew what worked. Kilns were filled from above with alternating layers of fuel (cut wood, scrap wood, timbers and/or coal) and limestone in softball sized chunks at an approximate rate of a cord of wood to the bushel of limestone, the yield being about ½ bushel of finished lime for each bushel of stone. The amount of hardwood fuel required for a single burn is two to three times the volume of lime produced. Local forest wood, which also used for nearby iron furnaces, was exhausted by the 1850s.
The fire would be set from below and work its way up through the kiln. Temperatures range from 1600 to 2100 degrees, breaking the stone into smaller chunks. The temperature of the fire would be controlled by adjusting the air flow in the draft hole. Depending on the kiln and conditions, they would burn for several days or longer. Loading and firing the kiln took an enormous amount of time and work, and "lime frolics" gave farmers and their families a chance to gather together.
The finished lime would filter through the grate and be raked out, set in mounds and wet down with water. Bushels of cooled, slaked lime were loaded onto wagons to be spread onto the fields at rates of 40-50 up to 90 bushels/acre.

Produced by Musconetcong River Management Council and Musconetcong Watershed Association

Funded by Hawk Pointe Foundation, Village Supermarkets
Musconetcong River Valley Double Lime Kiln Marker image. Click for full size.
By Matthew Handley, March 10, 2017
3. Musconetcong River Valley Double Lime Kiln Marker
The kiln wall is embedded in a slope. Any structure above the openings is long since gone.
ShopRite, Washington Township Historical Commission and US National Park Service
 
Location. 40° 44.241′ N, 74° 58.468′ W. Marker is in Washington, New Jersey, in Warren County. Marker is at the intersection of New Jersey Route 31 and Hawke Point Blvd., on the right when traveling north on State Route 31. Touch for map. Located on the entrance drive way to ShopRite. Marker is at or near this postal address: 2 Clubhouse Drive, Washington NJ 07882, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 2 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Revolutionary Artillery Site (approx. 0.9 miles away); U.S.S. Maine Memorial (approx. 1.3 miles away); Major General Daniel Morgan (approx. 1.3 miles away); General Daniel Morgan (approx. 1.3 miles away); New Hampton (approx. 1.4 miles away); Dusenbery Mansion House (approx. 1.4 miles away); Sister Mary Miranda C.S.S.F. (approx. 1.6 miles away); Changewater Trestle (approx. 1.8 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Washington.
 
Also see . . .  Musconetcong Watershed Association. (Submitted on July 1, 2017, by Michael Herrick of Southbury, Connecticut.)
 
Categories. Agriculture
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on July 1, 2017. This page originally submitted on July 1, 2017, by Michael Herrick of Southbury, Connecticut. This page has been viewed 47 times since then. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on July 1, 2017, by Michael Herrick of Southbury, Connecticut.
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