Goodspeed's History of Stewart County

Published in 1897

Part 1: The Furnaces

     The rugged hills and plateaus of Stewart County abound in rich deposits of mineral and stone. An excellent quality of lime rock is found in any part of the county, and also unlimited quantities of brown building stone, both of which remain undeveloped. Recently a fine species of galena was discovered near the mouth of Standing Rock Creek, which shows 52 per cent of lead. No prospecting has been set on foot as yet, but steps looking to its development will be taken in the near future. The county abounds in iron ore of the most valuable quality, of that species described as limonite or brown hematite, in the form of pipe, bog, pot, honey-comb, etc., which produces pig iron suitable for the manufacture of boiler plate, sugar Kettles, etc., second to none in the country. For over half a century Stewart County was the center of the great iron interests of Middle Tennessee, and before the war not less than fourteen furnaces and forges were in blast in the county, also the Cumberland Rolling-Mills, all of which, with but one exception, have long since shut down. In 1820 Dover Furnace, the first erected in the county, went in blast, and continued in operation until the breaking out of the Rebellion. It was subsequently started up again and ran until 1874. Dover Furnace was situated on South Cross Creek in District No. 6. Bear Spring Furnace was built in 1830, and stood near the Cumberland River, five miles east of the town of Dover in the Sixth District. The stack was destroyed during the war, but rebuilt in 1873, and continued in blast until 1884. Randolph Furnace stood in District No. 7, two miles south of Dover, and was build tin 1837, and went out of blast in 1840, and on the site of the stack two forges were erected and operated until the war. Patonia Furnace was built in 1846 on Bear Creek, in the Ninth District, and was operated until the civil war. Rough & Ready Furnace was built in 1846 or 1857, and stood in District No. 1. During the war it was out of blast, but it was started up at the close of the war and continued until 1874. Bellwood Furnace was erected in 1850, on the north side of the Cumberland River, in District No. 5, and was in blast up to the war. Iron Mountain Furnace was built in 1853 on Barrett Creek, in the Ninth District, and was in blast until the war. Saline Furnace was erected on Saline Creek, in the Fourth District, in 1853, and run until the war. Byron Forge was erected in 1840, and continued in operation until the war.

The LaGrange Furnace is the only now in blast in the county. This furnace was established in 1833 by the Stackers, of Pennsylvania, who accumulated vast fortunes. At first it was an open front, cold-blast, pig-iron furnace of from five to six tons daily capacity, the work being performed by slave. In the course of a few years the property fell into the hands of other capitalists, and changes were frequent until 1879, when the present owners purchased the entire property, and the furnace was rebuilt and has since been in continual operation. The furnace is 65.5 feet high, 12 feet across the bosh, 6 feet hearth, and is operated by four cylinder boilers 51 feet in length and 39 inches in diameter, the other 60 inch stroke, 20 inch diameter, one having 66 pistol pipes, the other with 42 syphon pipes. The stock is of modern pattern , is covered with a sheet iron jacket, and has five 4-inch tugeres. The fuel used is charcoal made from local wood, and the ore is mined within one mile of the furnace. After passing through the washer and undergoing a thorough cleansing, the ore is transported by means of a small narrow-gauge railroad to the furnace. The ore averages 50 per cent of metallic iron. The limestone used in the furnace is quarried within 200 yards of the same. The output for 1885 averaged forty-three tons of pig metal daily. It requires 35,000 cords of wood annually, all of which is coaled by contract. From forty to sixty men are required in the ore banks, twenty men to operate the teams and forty men at the furnace. The company owning the works is composed of Missouri capitalists, of which E.C. Sterling, of St. Louis, is president. The works are under the entire management of T.C. Baker. The Cumberland Rolling-Mills were established in 1828, and were in operation until their destruction by the Federals during the late war. The mills stood on the south side of the Cumberland River, about six miles above Dover.

Return to Stewart County Index Page