Excerpts from Iron Fever

Rufus followed this purchase with a series of deals, acquiring all the land adjacent to the Wilson Forge. July 14, 1825, 26 acres were acquired, “land on which the new Furnace now stands, land which Robert Wilson received from his father Ambrose’s estate, and an additional ten acres Robert Wilson had purchased of John Wilson, Benjamin Chickens, and Abraham Rice. (7)

March 11, 1826, 141 acres, reaching to the New York border were bought from Alpheus Fuller and Nathaniel Perry for $1200. An important piece was added from Phoebe Converse in the purchase of 1/5 part of about an acre adjoining Fuller Pond with privilege of damming said pond. These purchases gave control of the land around the two brooks north of the gorge above the furnace site. (8)

October 20, 1824, Fuller wrote Samuel W. Johnson of Stratford that he had gone the day before to the “raising of the Cole House, 30 by 60 feet, a large building. They have built the dam at the outlet of Fuller’s Pond so-called and are tearing away the rocks and stones and leveling the ground for the foundation for the furnace, have built the raceway out nigh of the brook and are leveling up to make a large platform to deposit pigs on. It begins to look like a new place. They are expecting the man everyday to come to lay the stack.” (9)

He wrote also that he “had forgot to inform that the directors appointed the first of November for our first installment to be paid in of $100 on a share. I told Esq. Perry I was calculating to write and inform you and forgot to do it. Shall expect to have the pleasure of waiting on you at the Ore Hill the first Wednesday in November. Esq. Adam has not been to the hill since you were here.”

On December 10, 1824, Samuel Johnson had received a letter from I.M. Woolsey of New York with advice about the type of blower to be installed. “I have not until this day been in possession of the information requisite to answer your letter respecting the proper kind of blower for the Macedonia Furnace. Of the different kinds of which I have had descriptions the two following appear the best. First, an iron cylinder similar to the one used by the West Point foundry at Cold Spring.

The West Point Company offer to construct a cylinder of 30 inches diameter and four feet stroke, to make a double stroke (that is to throw out as much air on the return as on the forward stroke) complete – viz cylinder, bottom, top valves, piston, and piston rod – for $800. This appears high but without a draught of it I cannot obtain estimates of other founders. It might be geared to strike any number of strokes in a minute. If 25 it would discharge 425 cubic feet of air in a minute. (10)

“Second, a wooden blower as used by McQueen in his furnace in New Jersey, with two cylinders of which I send you a draught. This is drawn for a 5 feet cylinder and four feet stroke and striking four times a minute to each cylinder would discharge 628 feet of air per minute. Constructed as drawn on the plan it would cost $250 exclusive of the water wheel. It might with advantage be geared with a crank instead of a stirrup but would require in such case two or more additional cog wheels which would enhance the cost considerably.

“Neither of these estimates embrace the cost of a regulating receiver which is very necessary in my opinion, in either case. I presume a wooded cylinder would not sustain a pressure much more than 4 strokes per minute.

“The more I reflect upon the subject the more I am convinced that the proposed dimensions of the furnace are too small. All practical men with whom I have conversed recommend at least 40 feet in height and the diameter of the boshes in proportion.

“In consequence of the rise of England iron the best iron cannot be imported for less than $55 and will next year be scarce and high. Should the Macedonia iron prove of good quality I shall not find any difficulty in disposing of all they can furnish.”

The Furnace opened in 1826 as a warm blast operation. With the promise of such a good market for its production it would seem to be set for success. No records of its operation have come to light so far but tradition has it that it was constantly beset with problems. Perhaps the final stack was too small. However, there seems to have been money for land purchases (almost a mania with the Fullers). (11)
facebook google+ youtube