Iron Furnace (Cumberland Gap National Park). This weeks Travel Thursday takes us to the Cumberland Gap National Park near the Tri-State Marker to the Newlee Iron Furnace. In this short hike, you will also see a small waterfall near the furnace.
Iron Furnace (Cumberland Gap National Park)
In the early 1820s to the 1880s, The Newlee Iron Furnace produced Iron-Ore.
Inscription of Marker Sign. From the early 1820s to the 1880s, an iron smelting business here took advantage of the rushing waters of Gap Creek. Today only the creek and part of the original 30-foot-high stone tower remain, a small part of an industrial complex of buildings, slag heaps, and machinery then called the Newlee Iron Furnace.
All the ingredients needed to make iron were nearby: iron-ore deposits close to the surface, limestone, abundant firewood to be made into charcoal for fuel, and waterpower to run the air bellows and a massive hammer mill. Some iron made here was sold to local blacksmiths. Some of the 150-pound ingots or “pigs” were shipped down the Powell River to Chattanooga, Tennessee.
To produce one ton of iron, the furnace required an exact recipe of 200 bushels of charcoal, 2 tons of iron ore, and 500 pounds of limestone, all of which would be lit and joined inside the furnace. A waterwheel-powered bellows kept the fires hot. It took 4 to 6 hours to produce molten iron, with a layer of slag floating on top. The slag would be drained off through the “cinder hole,” and then the molten iron would be drained through the “tap hole” below.
Close by is the Tri-State Marker, where you can stand on three states at one spot. (Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia). Future blog post on that spot.