Index

Pictures

Fitchburg Furnace Red River Sign Center Arch Interior of Center Arch
Fitchburg Furnace Red River Sign Furnace Center Arch Interior of Center Arch
Blackstone Stack Up the Blackstone Stack LH Side of Blackstone RH Side of Blackstone
Blackstone Stack Up the Blackstone Stack LH Side of Blackstone RH Side of Blackstone
Center Arch Chandler Stack Up the Chandler Stack Chandler Hearth
Center Arch Chandler Stack Up the Chandler Stack Chandler Hearth
Charging Ramp Rear of Furnace LH Side of Stack Front of Furnace
Charging Ramp Rear of Furnace LH Side of Stack Front of Furnace

Description

Fitchburg Furnace is one of the "must see" stops for the serious iron furnace enthusiast. Also known as the Red River Furnace, Fitchburg is operated by the U.S. Park Service and is in excellent shape. The furnace is actually two stacks, Blackstone (on the Left) and Chandler (on the Right). The furnace is a solid mass of sandstone built sixty feet high. The base measures fourty feet by eighty feet, the interior stacks are fifty feet tall, with twelve and a half foot boshes. They were steam blast, charcoal furnaces with a daily output of twenty-five tons. Built with a total investment of $160,000, they are an impressive sight. The furnaces alone cost $100,000, the remaining money being invested in equipment.

Fitchburg was built largely on greed and speculation. The overspeculation in western railroads during the latter part of the 1860's led many businessmen to become involved in iron production during this period. The fact that the furnace was built as a charcoal furnace when many were converting to coal is clear evidence that experienced furnace owners were not involved. The furnace closed in the Panic of 1873 when the speculation bubble broke, causing a short recession. Additionally, the discovery of iron ore beds in Birmingham, Alabama reduced the need for southern buyers to purchase iron from the Kentucky area.

The furnace utilized limonite (limestone) ore that is found under beds of clay and white shale. A typical charge included 3 tons of ore, 179 bushels of charcoal, and 1.8 tons of limestone flux. Over 1,000 men worked at Fitchburg when it was in operation.

First Visited: 1Q 2003

History

Start of Operation: 1869

Blowout: 1873

Daily Tonnage: 25 tons

Built By: Designed by Fred Fitch and built by Sam Worthley

Stack: 60 feet, furnace is 50 feet with 12-1/2 foot bosh

Blast: Hot

Type: Charcoal

Picture of Fitchburg, 1895
Fitchburg, 1895

Directions

Take State Route 213 from Stanton, then 52 East over the mountain. At the bottom of the mountain make a hard, 180 turn to the left onto State Route 975. Proceed three miles, the furnace is on the left.

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