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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Saugus in Essex County, Massachusetts — The American Northeast (New England)
 

Making Iron

 
 
Making Iron Marker image. Click for full size.
By J. Makali Bruton, July 1, 2015
1. Making Iron Marker
Inscription. Ore, charcoal and rock called gabbro for flux were hauled to this site, and a drying fire was started in the furnace. Within a day or two the water wheels and bellows were set in motion, and the “blast”, once begun, would burn uninterrupted for weeks.

Workers returned from the forest, bogs, and the gabbro quarry at Nahant to toil around the clock, feeding layer upon layer of measured ingredients into the charging hole.

The 340 cubic foot furnace interior held three tons of ore, 265 bushels of charcoal and two tons of gabbro rock (fluxing agent). After three days of intense heat from the continuous blast, the ore and gabbro were reduced to liquid and the filled crucible was emptied of its molten contents. The furnace was repeatedely tapped as the layered charging continued day and night.

Captions:
Bog iron ore (the mineral limonite) was dug from stagnant ponds and swamps; each year up to 1000 tons of ore were delivered to the furnace.

Gabbro, a fluxing agent and aid to smelting, was an innovative local discovery that replaced the limestone traditionally used in the 17th century ironworks of England.

Charcoal, fuel for the furnace, was used in great quantities. It was produced by woodcutters and skilled colliers working in nearby forests.

The weight and
Making Iron Marker image. Click for full size.
By J. Makali Bruton, July 1, 2015
2. Making Iron Marker
The marker is underneath a tree near the reconstructed furnace.
flow of the water in the overshot wooden wheel generated the constant horsepower needed to operate the huge bellows, key to the continuous blast of the furnace.

Furnace, Water Wheel and Bellows
 
Location. 42° 28.145′ N, 71° 0.505′ W. Marker is in Saugus, Massachusetts, in Essex County. Marker can be reached from Bridge Street. Touch for map. The marker is at the Saugus Iron Works National Historic Site, on the walkway to the reconstructed smelting furnace. Marker is in this post office area: Saugus MA 01906, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. The Casting House (within shouting distance of this marker); River Basin Terminus (within shouting distance of this marker); The Forge (within shouting distance of this marker); Iron Works (within shouting distance of this marker but has been reported missing); Blacksmith Shop (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); Appleton's Pulpit (approx. 0.2 miles away); Saugus Vietnam Memorial (approx. ¼ mile away); Saugus Massachusetts World War I Honor Roll (approx. 0.3 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Saugus.
 
Categories. Industry & CommerceSettlements & Settlers
 
Making Iron Marker image. Click for full size.
By J. Makali Bruton, July 1, 2015
3. Making Iron Marker
The bellows arms, water wheel and furnace are seen behind the marker.
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on July 26, 2015, by J. Makali Bruton of Querétaro, Mexico. This page has been viewed 119 times since then and 23 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on July 26, 2015, by J. Makali Bruton of Querétaro, Mexico. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.
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