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Laurel in Prince George's County, Maryland — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
 

Dinosaur Park's Industrial Heritage

 
 
Dinosaur Park's Industrial Heritage Marker image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, July 28, 2013
1. Dinosaur Park's Industrial Heritage Marker
Inscription.
The History of Dinosaur Park

Dinosaur Park is located on what was once part of a 1600s land grant to Richard Snowden. From the 1650s through the mid 1800s, the Snowden Family owned several iron furnaces, hundreds of acres of land, and a large force of enslaved African Americans, many of whom were ironworkers. In the mid 1800s, the Snowden family sold the Muirkirk iron furnace to Andrew and Elias Ellicott. It was later purchased by William E. Coffin who renamed the complex the Muirkirk Ironworks.

The African Americans at the Ironworks mined iron ore in open pit mines where they dug large chunks of iron ore out of the dense clays of the Muirkirk Deposit. The ore was then taken to the Muirkirk Ironworks, which was located near present day US Route 1 and Muirkirk Road. It was during the mining process that bone and plant fossils were uncovered at the Deposit, the most famous being the bones of Astrodon johnstoni.

The Ironworks shut down in the early 1920s. Eventually the mines were used to supply clay for making bricks and pigments for paint. The brickyard operated until 2005 when the land was sold to a development company, Jackson-Shaw.

The African American Workers of the Muirkirk Ironworks

While farming was the major source of employment for African Americans in the
Dinosaur Park's Industrial Heritage Marker image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, July 28, 2013
2. Dinosaur Park's Industrial Heritage Marker
Muirkirk area in the late 1800s, the iron industry was also an important source jobs. African Americans worked the farms in warm weather and mined ore during the winter.

An African American ironworker named Augustus Ross purchased land near the ironworks and constructed a log home in the late 1880s. Other African American ironworkers followed and soon the community of Rossville was formed. There, and in other nearby locations, the African American ironworkers of Muirkirk build a strong and vibrant community with churches, schools, and social clubs that is still evident today.
 
Location. 39° 4.253′ N, 76° 52.122′ W. Marker is in Laurel, Maryland, in Prince George's County. Marker can be reached from Mid Atlantic Blvd.. Touch for map. Marker is in Dinosaur Park, 13201 Mid Atlantic Boulevard. Marker is in this post office area: Laurel MD 20708, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Welcome to Dinosaur Park (a few steps from this marker); Dinosaur Alley (a few steps from this marker); Dinosaurs in Maryland! (a few steps from this marker); Three Sisters: Close Knit Communities of the Laurel Area. (approx. 0.8 miles away); Abraham Hall: A Historic African American Benevolent Lodge
Charcoal Kilns at Muirkirk, ca. 1920. image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, July 28, 2013
3. Charcoal Kilns at Muirkirk, ca. 1920.
Charcoal was manufactured practically year round. The building located closely behind the kilns house African American workers and their families.
Close-up of photo on marker
(approx. 0.8 miles away); Iron Production: Maryland's Industrial Past - The Iron Making Process (approx. 0.8 miles away); When the Iron was Hot: African America Ironworkers of Muirkirk (approx. 0.8 miles away); Queen’s Chapel Methodist Church, Established 1868 (approx. 0.9 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Laurel.
 
Additional comments.
1. Muirkirk
The WPA guide Maryland, a Guide to the Old Line State published in 1940 described Muirkirk this way:

Muirkirk -- 23.4 m. {from Baltimore on Rt. 1} (170 alt. 200 pop.) was named for Muirkirk, Scotland, by Scots who in 1747 built an iron furnace here. Six of the beehive-shaped brick charcoal ovens are still standing { in 1940.} Because Muirkirk iron had greater strength, the plant outlasted most of the others that utilize Maryland ore and it supplied cannon and cannon balls to the Federal Army during the Civil War and later began the production of gun carriages and car wheels. Razed by an explosion in 1880, the plant was immediately rebuilt. About the time of the World War Muirkirk turned to the production of ochre from local ores but since 1924 has provided
Muirkirk Ironworks image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, July 28, 2013
4. Muirkirk Ironworks
The Muirkirk Ironworks with the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad tracks visible in the foreground, ca 1920. After it closed, many of Muirkirk's workers got jobs with the railroad.
Close-up of photo on marker
pigments from higher grade foreign ores.
    — Submitted August 4, 2013, by Allen C. Browne of Silver Spring, Maryland.

 
Categories. African AmericansColonial EraIndustry & Commerce
 
Muirkirk ironworkers, ca. 1920. image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, July 28, 2013
5. Muirkirk ironworkers, ca. 1920.
Back row (left to right): John Weems, unknown, Meshach Conway, William Tolliver, Benjamin Conway, unknown, Middle row: William Stewart, Will Franklin, unknown, unknown. Front row: Shadrach Conway, Reason Ross.
Close-up of photo on marker
Ironworkers and Their Children image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, July 28, 2013
6. Ironworkers and Their Children
Ironworkers with their children in front of homes built and rented to them by Charles Coffin, ca. 1925. Several families often shared a single house.
Close-up of photo on marker
Making Molds for Pig Iron image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, July 28, 2013
7. Making Molds for Pig Iron
The bar molds resembled a sow nursing her piglets, hence the term "pig iron." Pig iron was used to manufacture items such as firebacks and cannon shot or was further processed into wrought iron at a forge. Pittsburg PA
Close-up of photo on marker
Muirkirk Furnace, 1925 image. Click for full size.
By Rhett King Barnwell
8. Muirkirk Furnace, 1925
from Rhett King Barnwell, The Muirkirk Iron Works, Phi Mu thesis, 1925.
Letterhead of Charles E. Coffin,<br> Muirkirk Charcoal Pig Iron image. Click for full size.
By John T. Fisher
9. Letterhead of Charles E. Coffin,
Muirkirk Charcoal Pig Iron
from John T. Fisher, The History and Construction of The Dry Color Works at Muirkirk Maryland Phi Mu thesis, January 1933.
Davis Colors -- Rockwood Pigments image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, August 4, 2013
10. Davis Colors -- Rockwood Pigments
On the site of the Muirkirk iron furnace
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on August 3, 2013, by Allen C. Browne of Silver Spring, Maryland. This page has been viewed 420 times since then and 33 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9. submitted on August 3, 2013, by Allen C. Browne of Silver Spring, Maryland.   10. submitted on August 5, 2013, by Allen C. Browne of Silver Spring, Maryland. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.
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