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 furnaceOre 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.