Thursday, October 6, 2016

Following Brown Signs

We love National Historic Sites, and we will go way out of the way to find them. That was the case with the Saugus Iron Works. We followed the brown signs to this gem.
We started in the Visitor's Center, a restored 1680's  house thought to be the ironmaster's house. 
 The iron works produced iron from 1646 to 1670, but was eventually abandoned. It was the first integrated ( full process) iron works in North America. While other forms of industry used the water power from the Saugus River near this site later on, over time the original iron works was buried by hundreds of years of time and earth. 

In 1948 archaeological work began to unearth the site, restore and reconstruct all the workings. Remarkably, large chunks of water wheels and other timbers were found.
 By 1954 the site was dug and reconstruction continued. In 1968 it was turned over to the National Park Service. The iron works includes a blast furnace, forges, rolling mill, and dock for transporting materials in and products out. 
The blast furnace
 Ore and charcoal were loaded into the top of the blast furnace.
 Water was sluiced from a pond created by damming up the Saugus River upstream, above the waterfall. The water powered the water wheels that turned the shafts that worked the bellows and all of the other machinery.
 Work goes on to reconstruct and repair the works. 

The blast furnace was tapped twice a day, drawing off the molten iron
 The molten metal would be shaped in trenches in the sandy floor as pig iron, to be further refined in the forge. Some was also formed in molds as cast iron. 8,000 pounds of iron were produced a week here.
Huge bellows pumped by water wheel driven shafts fed oxygen into the blast furnace. 

 This workman was informative about the kinds of wood  and the tools used in reconstruction of another wheel structure. 

The Saugus River provided the water power and the transportation for bringing in supplies and transporting the iron products. Ore came from the bogs and swamps. Timber was abundant for providing charcoal.

 In the forge, pig iron was formed into wrought iron products.

 The rolling mill extruded the iron into rods to be further cut into nails.

 Flat bottom boats brought ore and hauled away finished iron.
 At the time, the iron works were known as Hammersmith, a fitting name. Here you see the relative location to Boston. 
Places like this fascinate us because of what was achieved with hard work, ingenuity, and very little technology. It's really quite amazing. 


  1. You are the best for finding interesting places to visit.

  2. I love historic sites also, amazing all the hard work to produce iron for use in nails and other structures.

  3. I'm with you and the fascination of historical places. the technology they used in those days was amazing.

  4. Fascinating indeed. What a cool place!

  5. Fascinating! And it looks like you got a really good day. It's raining here on Vashon Island right now. :-)

  6. I am surprised that the NationalPark Service has money for refurbishing, but glad that they do!

  7. Like you, I am so impressed when such amazing feats were managed with no giant machinery. They were quite efficient to produce so much iron per week. I always marvel at the mind that pulled all that together.

  8. I like your final sentence. So true.

  9. That would be such a great site to visit. Amazing what was accomplished way back when.

  10. I'm embarrassed to say I never once visited this place when we lived nearby. Heard plenty about it, though. Thanks for showing me what I missed.

  11. What an interesting place to visit!


I would love to read your comments. Since I link most posts to Facebook, you may comment there if you do not have an account. I have eliminated Anonymous comments due to spammers.