Forestdale Iron Works

Forestdale Iron Works is listed in the National Register of Historic Places

Of surviving iron furnaces in Vermont, the Forest Dale Iron blast furnace is not only the  oldest, but is one of the best preserved, with a high degree of historic integrity.  It was built in 1824 to replace an earlier furnace that processed the iron ore discovered nearby in 1810.  The tall stone furnace was used to melt iron ore into crude or pig iron that was then cast into blocks or ingots.  The furnace produced 1,200 tons of pig iron in 1845. The iron company also cast stoves, cooking pots, chains, axes, tools, cannons, and ornamental iron, including chairs, statues, and vases.  The furnace stack was enlarged in 1854 to burn anthracite coal instead of charcoal, but this effort failed.  The iron furnace was shut down, to operate only once more in 1865. 

In 1974 Welland Horn donated the iron furnace and 10 acres to the State of Vermont.  The soaring blast furnace was in very poor condition. Someone, without Mr. Horn’s permission, had set a load of dynamite in the casting arch of the furnace to loosen up the stone to use as road fill.  In 1989 the Vermont Division for Historic Preservation conducted an initial clearing and archaeological study, and also received a donation of an additional 20 acres from Mr. Horn, to include the nearby historic lignite and kaolin mines.  In 1993 the State of Vermont deeded property on Vermont Route 73 to the Vermont Division for Historic Preservation where wagons off-loaded the ore and charcoal down into the top of the furnace  In 1995, the State repaired and stabilized the furnace, adding a roof to the top to protect it from the elements.

Forestdale Iron FuranceToday, this historic property has many stone foundations from housing and shops for the former workers. A very deep and impressive wheel pit housed a water wheel to operate the pistons, which forced air into the blast furnace making the fire hotter so as to turn the iron ore into molten iron.  The headrace leads to the Neshobe River. 

Additional information on the Forest Dale Iron Furnace and other iron and limestone furnaces in Vermont may be sourced in the book titled 200 Years of Soot and Sweat: The History and Archeology of Vermont’s Iron, Charcoal, and Lime Industries (Vermont Archeological Society, 1991). 

The site is closed to the public however there is a Vermont historic roadside marker for the Forest Dale Iron Furnace on VT Route 73.

Historic photographs of the Forestdale Iron Furance