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

Australia Furnace

Alleghany Iron for the Confederacy

Australia Furnace Marker image. Click for full size.
By Bernard Fisher, September 4, 2017
1. Australia Furnace Marker
Inscription. Australia Furnace, located just east of here, produced pig iron for the Tredegar Iron Works—“Ironmaker to the Confederacy”—during the Civil War. Ira and Edwin Jordan had begun constructing Australia Furnace in 1852; two years later, they put it in operation. Australia was a “hot blast” furnace that used preheated air during the process of smelting iron from ore to increase production. The technology to produce the hot blast was relatively simple, and Northern ironmasters began using it before those in the South. Cold-blast furnaces, which generally employed water-powered bellows to pump air without preheating, could not compete, and some closed in the 1850s.

The outbreak of the Civil War cut off trade with Northern iron manufacturers and forced the Confederacy to rely more than usual on Southern suppliers. To ensure a reliable stream of raw materials, Confederate Gen. Joseph R. Anderson, who owned the Tredegar Iron Works in Richmond, purchased several ironworks, including Australia Furnace (April 1862). The workers used a steam engine to preheat the air and to operate the bellows. The engine gave Australia Furnace an advantage over other furnaces that relied solely on water power, which might not be available during winter or dry summers.

At the Tredegar works, Anderson employed
Australia Furnace Marker image. Click for full size.
By Bernard Fisher, September 4, 2017
2. Australia Furnace Marker
both free white and black slave labor. Here at Australia, slaves filled every furnace occupation from common laborers to skilled engineers. Wagons moved Australia’s pig iron to the James River and Kanawha Canal near Eagle Rock, where boats took it to Tredegar to be cast or forged into cannons, munitions, and railroad equipment.

For visitor information please contact the Alleghany Highlands Chamber of Commerce & Tourism at 540-962-2178 or visit our website at The Visitors Center is located at 110 Mall Road, Covington, VA.

Blast furnace cross-section: bridge and charging hole at the top of the stack; bosh filled with charcoal, ore, and limestone; bellows that introduced the hot air blast; and the crucible where the iron pooled and then flowed into long channels (sows) with many shorter ones (pigs) – Courtesy Washington and Lee University
Gen. Joseph R. Anderson Courtesy Library of Congress
Tredegar Iron Works, Richmond, Virginia, April 1865 Courtesy Library of Congress
Tredegar Iron Works- owned forges, furnaces, and coal mines during the Civil War.
Erected by Virginia Civil War Trails.
Marker series. This marker is included in the Appalachian Iron Furnaces, and the Virginia Civil War Trails marker series.
Location. 37° 48.62′ N, 79° 40.814′ W. Marker is in Longdale Furnace, Virginia, in Alleghany County. Marker is at the intersection of Longdale Furnace Road (Virginia Route 269) and Collierstown Road (Virginia Route 770), on the right when traveling west on Longdale Furnace Road. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 6209 Longdale Furnace Rd, Clifton Forge VA 24422, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 9 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Lucy Selina Furnace (here, next to this marker); a different marker also named Lucy Selina Furnace (approx. 0.3 miles away); Alleghany County / Rockbridge County (approx. 5.2 miles away); Douthat State Park (approx. 6.3 miles away); Captain James Hall (approx. 7.6 miles away); Oxford Church (approx. 7.9 miles away); Masonic Theatre (approx. 7.9 miles away); C&O Railroad Shops (approx. 8.6 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Longdale Furnace.
Also see . . .
1. Alleghany Highlands of Virginia. Alleghany Highlands Chamber of Commerce & Tourism (Submitted on September 5, 2017.) 

2. Longdale Mining Complex. Washington & Lee University (Submitted on September 5, 2017.) 

3. Longdale Furnace Historic District (pdf file). National Register of Historic Places (Submitted on September 5, 2017.) 
Categories. Industry & CommerceWar, US Civil
Credits. This page was last revised on September 5, 2017. This page originally submitted on September 5, 2017, by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia. This page has been viewed 75 times since then and 32 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on September 5, 2017, by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia.
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