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Perpetuating American Traditions for Future Generations

The Story of Crown Point Iron

The Story of Crown Point Iron

Pehr (Peter) Kalm, the Swedish scientist, traveling in America in 1749, went to Canada from the English colonies by way of Lake Champlain.  There he stopped at the French frontier post, Fort St. Frederic, built on the Pointe de la Couronne, later called “Crown Point” by the English.  It was here he observed black sand on the lake shore, the grains of which were attracted by his magnet and which he recognized to be iron.  He could not then ascertain the origin of this sand, as he states in his journal; “For it was not known here whether there were iron ores in the neighborhood or not.  But I am rather inclined to believe that they may be found in these parts, as they are common in different parts of Canada, and as this sand is found on the shores of almost all the lakes and rivers in Canada.”

It is not known when or how iron deposits were first discovered in the Adirondack region, but the ore at the Cheever Bed, a short distance north of Port Henry, was being worked as early as 1766 for in that year Major Philip Skene’s boats were known to have made many trips from his settlement, Skenesboro (now Whitehall) to fetch ore for his forges at that place.  In 1771 Skene received from Governor Dunmore letters patent for lands which included this deposit.  Benedict Arnold was in command at the Crown Point fort in 1775, and in June of that year he noted in his regimental book that he had sent a boat with Skene’s Negroes to dig ore from the Cheever.  It was made into iron and used in fitting out vessels which later were engaged in the first naval battle in the War for Independence.

 

Early pioneers in the Adirondack region believed, and found, that iron existed widely distributed in these mountains.  Looking back at that somewhat legendary epoch the story of iron in this region holds much of  romance.   The iron industry forms not only a major phase of local history throughout the nineteenth century, but it is also a chapter of no mean importance in the history of this country’s material growth.  Due credit should be given to its palce in the industrial expansion of that period.  The part Crown Point filled in the picture is well worthy of commemoration.

An iron industry could not have been developed in those times with iron alone, — other resources also were necessary.  Here in this region were to be found close together all materials essential for making iron.  Besides the ore there was timber, seemingly an inexhaustible supply of it, with which to make the great quantities of charcoal needed  to fire the forges and furnaces.  There were numerous streams to furnish water for  washing crushed ore in the separating process and were to swing the trip-hammers and to operate other machinery.  Here, too, in some favorably endowed localities there was limestone needed in furnaces to make a flux with the ore in the smelting process.  Sites for  forges were first of all determined by the availability of good water power — timber was everywhere abundant close at hand.  The ore could be, and often was hauled a long distance to the forge or furnance. Furnaces usually  were located with reference to some local supply of limestone as well as ore, water not being needed in great quantity or with head for them.  Carting these two bulky, heavy materials in small wagons over rough roads was a handicap to be reckoned with.

In the beginning the products were made for local use largely, as the market for them was limited to those frontier communities that could be reached by the poor roads or by the waters of Lake Champlain.  Later, when water connection between that lake and the Hudson River was made in 1819-20 it became possible to shop the iron directly by water to the larger markets.  Natural resources being available and means of transport to industrial localities at a distance assured, enterprising men were quick to take advantage.  Winslow Watson, the historian of Essex County, New York, tells that soon “the fires of small forges illuminated sequestered spots in all most every section of the county.”  This work, he points out, “exerted a beneficent local influence. They stimulated the industry of remote districts; they created a market for all the products of husbandry; by a demand for wood and coal, they imparted a value to unprofitable forests, and thus enhanced the price of lands, and promoted the cultivation of the earth.  Little hamlets clustered around these sites, and some exhibited the impress of civilization by their varied arts, their schools, and religious movements.”

Transportation by water was closed during the colder six months, or longer, of the year, a circumstance gravely detrimental to an industry dependent on it.  After the Civil War, however, outlet by rail was brought about between this region and the lower Hudson (in 1875) and continuous transportation was thus assured throughout the entire year.  The industrial expansion of the nation that occurred in this era greatly stimulated the iron industry here.

Ironclads-800

Civil War Ironclads

 

The manufacture of iron products in Essex County appears to have been initiated in 1801 at Willsboro Falls.  The ore used there came mostly from Vermont but some was brought from Canada.  The articles first manufactured were largely anchors.  These varied in weigth from three hundred to fifteen hundred pounds.  They were transported by water to Whitehall, thence carted overland to Fort Edward on the Hudson, where they were again shipped on boats to Troy.  Mill cranks, grist mill machinery and, later, steamboat irons also were made.

In several instances the discovery of iron ore in this region was made under interesting circumstances, as at Crown Point and at the famous Arnold Hill bed in town of Peru, which was discovered in 1806 by a man who, in traveling over this tract saw a piece of the clear blue iron ore which had been uncovered beneath the roots of a pine tree which had been blown over.  He took it along with him to Jay and smelted it in a blacksmith shop, making a small bar of iron of excellent quality.”

The Elba Iron Works were established on the headwaters of the Ausable River about 1809. Owing to the roughness of the country, the distance of the works from market, and inaccessibility by road, this enterprise was abandoned in 1815.  Numerous other forges were being erected at this time in the region that was accessible from the Lake, and after the opening of the Champlain Canal their activity was greatly increased.

The discovery of iron ore in Crown Point was first made in 1818 at what was later known as the Saxe, or Saxe and Floyd bed.  Two years later it was opened, and in 1823 this ore was used in a forge established at a water power site on a stream nearby.  According to Watson, quantities of it were taken to a furnace owned and operated by Jacob Saxe near the mouth of the Salmon River in Clinton Country and there worked.

The first ore used in this Crown Point forge was from the Cheever bed in the town of Moriah, and later, after the discovery of the Penfield bed in Crown Point, ore was used from that source.  The Hammond bed in Crown Point was discovered in 1821 by a man who was hunting a bee tree in the wilderness.  He first brough some small specimens of the ore in his pocket, and later, with the help of friends, took out eight or ten hundred pounds of ore.  This they carried over a mile on their backs to a road where a team and wagon could be used to carry it to Ticonderoga.

The Penfield bed was discovered in 1826 by a boy who was hunting partridges.  As he grasped a bush to pull himself up the steep monuntainside the whole mass became detached from the rock, disclosing the shining ore beneath.  He took samples of it to his father who owned the land.  The latter opened the bed and subsequently sold it to Penfield and Taft.  Taft sold out his interst in 1834; the firm was then carried on as Penfield & Harwood, later as Penfield & Hammond, subsequently as John & Thomas Hammond, and finally as the Crown Point Iron Company.  This bed, located on lots 45 and 46 of the Paradox Tract, was about one-half mile from the Hammond bed, which possessed similar qualities.  At the Penfield bed there were six different openings, the beds varying in thickness from five to thiry feet.  The ore was black, containing no Sulphur, and only a slight trace of phosphorus.  This bed was worked until the ore body became exhausted in the early eighteen-eighties.

The North Pit was the third important mine in the Hammondville locality.  It is not known when it first was opened, but probably it was at an early date.  Owning to the character of the ore, which was fine grained and very hard to drill and to break up with sledge hammers, it was difficult and expensive to mine, and it was less accessible than the Penfield & Hammond pits.  For these reasons it was not much worked during the earlier years, but quite a sizable pit existed there by 1873.  Previous to 1876 its opening was on the north side of a hill where the ore out-cropped about one mile distant from the other mines.  The ore was hoisted on an inclined track with a two-horse whim.  About that year a vertical shaft was put down from the top of the hill, tapping the ore body below.  The ore was then hoisted with a steam engine and carried on a gravity tramway down the south face of the hill to a spur of the new railroad.  From that time it was continuously worked until 1893, several years after the Hammond & Penfield beds had been exhausted.  The ore was similar to the ore of the Hammond pit, both in chemical composition and in physical character.

 

 

 

Ore from the Penfield bed was smelted at the Penfield & Harwood Iron Works which were located at Irondale, later called Ironville, about six miles west of Lake Champlain.  Putnam Creek was dammed there to form a pond over a mile and a half long which furnished motive power for the plant.  Here as early as 1828 a forge with two water wheels was erected.  In 1873 (then under the name of the Crown Point Iron Company) four fires were reported in the forge with one wooden helve hammer weighing one thousand eight hundred pounds, and there was this time also a separator in which the ore was prepared for the forge.  Characoal was the fuel used; this was burned in covered kilns about four miles from the works, in the town of Ticonderoga.  Ore from the Penfield bed was used here and was worked into blooms and bars.  The annual output at this time was about five hundred tons.  The product is said to have been used for the fabrication of fine wire and at Pittsburgh and elsewhere for making crucible cast steel.

"Belly" Helve Hammer

“Belly” Helve Hammer

 

At Crown Point and at other iron works in this region the methods of manufacture were essentially the same.  The ore, after being mined, was drawn to large open kilns, about three hundred tons of it being piled upon twenty-five cords of wood.  Heat caused the stone to loose its hold on the iron.  The ore was then generally put through the water process of separation. It was placed in troughs with grate bottoms, in which it was stamped and screened, then passed into sieves through which water rose from the bottom.  The iron, being heavier, sank through holes in the bottom of the sieve into a trough, while the pulverized rock was raised and carried off by the current of water, often together with a considerable amount of the iron in fine particles.  It was a wasteful process.  At the Penfield establishment in Crown Point and at the Peru Iron Works in Clinton County, magnetic separators were in use from an early time.  The one at Crown Point consisted of a cylinder about two and a half feet in diameter and five feet in length which was studded with a large number of magnetized bars of iron around its surface.  The cylinder revolved on a horizontal axis in a trough into which the ore was shoveled.  The pure iron particles were extracted and adhered to the magnets and so were raised out of the trough as the cylinder revolved and carried to stationary brushes which detached them, to fall into receptacles. These magnets would lose strength after a certain amount of use and had to be recharged.

 

 

Had the knowledge of generating and using hydroelectric power been available to industry at that time, doubtless electric separators would have been used at the Penfield forge as the proprietors were enterprising, intelligent men, who were on the first line of industrial advance in their times.  In the year 1831 they had secured an electromagnet from Professor Henry of the Albany Academy at Albany, New York, who later became famous for  his experiments with electricity and as Director of the Smithsonian Institution.  It was probably the first industrial use of electricity anywhere.  This primitive device was worked by a wet battery of “galvanic cell” as it was then called.  It was used here for recharging the bar magnets of the separator, and also, it has been said, for separating iron and steel from brass and copper scrap metal.

After the ore had been separated, or prepared for the smelting, it was taken to the forge.  The one at Crown Point was of the Catalan type of which about twenty-five were in operation in this part of the State during the eighteen-seventies.  When the charcoal fire in the forge was sufficiently hot the “bloomer,” who was a man of high technical skill, began throwing ore over the fire.  This shoveling of ore was repeated at short intervals for three hours, when the iron, which at this stage was called a “loop”was ready to be taken out.  During this operation the molten cinder was drawn off quite often.  The ore, distributed over the charcoal fire, became quickly heated and deoxidized and at the same time highly carbonized.  In this condition it percolated through the charcoal into the bottom of the box.  After the fires had been run about three  hours the loops, weighing about three hundred pounds each, were dug out with long bars and placed on a handcart and wheeled to the hammer.  Each was then put under a heavy trip-hammer and “shingled” into cylindrical shape.  In this form one end was then placed back in the forge to be reheated while the next loop was being made.  As soon as hot, it was taken out and hammered down to four inches in thickness.  The unsound or ragged end was cut off and thrown into the fire to be run again, and one-third of the remainder was cut off to form what was called a “billet” or “bloom.”  The remainder of the loop was then reheated and hammered out into two billets, each weighing about one hundred pounds.

It took two tons of separated ore and three hundred to three hundred thirty bushels of charcoal to produce one ton of iron.  Most of the product was sold in the form of billets; some was rolled into bars.  Iron produced by this process was remarkably free from impurities.

The product of the blast furnace was “pig iron.”  It was either remelted in foundries and there molded into stove castings, car (train) wheels, car (train) couplers, and the thousand and one cast iron products which were in daily use, or else converted in steel mills into steel plates and bars.  The blast furnace was (and in its present development still is) essentially a steel shell lined with fire brick, standing in a vertical position.  Into it at the top are charged iron ore, limestone, and coke at intervals and in definite proportions.  A strong blast of preheated air is forced up from the bottom through this inert mass by means of powerful blowing engines.  Chemical reactions take place between the heated contents of the furnace by which the ore is reduced, resulting in molten iron, slag, and gasses.  These gases, besides contributing to the chemical process of separating the iron from its gangue (or rock) and other impurities, are utilized for producing heat to bring about these  reactions, and also outside the furnace to fire boilers in which steam is generated for running the blowing engines.  The iron, being heavier than the slag, finds its way in the bottom of the furnace, and at regular intervals is drawn off and run into molds in the casting-house.  After cooling, these bars are known as pig iron.

After 1845 the Hammond bed was worked continuously until the ore became exhausted in the late eighteen-seventies.  There were no infusions of sulfates or phosphorus in this ore and it yielded a superior quality of pig iron increasing strength together with softness to the highest degree.  It was eminently adapted to the purposes of the foundry and the fabrication of machinery.  The harder parts of the pig metal were said to be particularly suitable for the manufacture of car axles and malleable articles.  The extreme fluidity of this iron and the long time it remained fluid rendered it highly valuable for these uses.

Penfield Homstead

Penfield Homstead

 

Charles Franklin Hammond was the leading man in developing the iron industries of the town.  Fired with faith in the high qualities of his iron and the possibilities of building a successful industry based upon it, he went to great lengths to establish its reputation.  A record of his perseverance is preserved in his own words, “I had analyses made of the ore and had it worked in a forge and had the iron rolled into round and band iron, and also into nails and tested by the Peru company at Clintonville, N. Y.  some of the bar iron  I had made at Penfield’s and some at Vergennes, Vermont, where there were forges at the time.  The foreman and his workmen at Clintonville said that while rolling it they never saw iron that would roll into thin 4d plate and 4d nails without cracks  or fracture at the edges before this, that their Peru iron was called the best, but it would not stand the test for strength and toughness beside mine.  I then got about twenty tons of the ore at great expense and trouble for want of a road, being obliged to use oxen on a wood-shod sled to haul it to the Wooster place on bare ground, and from there I drew it to the wharf on a wagon.  I shipped it to Greenbush, and from there by rail to Stockbridge, Mass.  It was there worked in a small charcoal furnace, yielding a very fine quality of pig iron.”

 

 

Carried on by faith in the value and possibilities of his iron, Mr. Hammond sought and secured one of the most experience men of that time in building and running furnaces. Mr. Jonas Tower.  At this time. Mr. Hammond’s brother John Cross Hammond, who until now had held aloof from the enterprise, neither saying much against it nor doing anything to encourage it, finally came into the arrangement to build a furnance.  In the fall of 1844 C. F. Hammond, accompanied by Tower and Allen Penfield, set out to locate a site for the furnace.  They chose a place three miles west of the Irondale works.  It was midway between the ore beds and a deposit of crystalline limestone and was in a depression in the mountains surrounded by rugged cliffs and precipices.  All about it at that time were forests which must have seemed inexhahistible for producing wood for the charcoal needed in firing the furnace.   Ample space close by afforded a site suitable for the small settlement which was to grow up near the furnace, and pure spring water was available in abundance.  These men felled a log across the place where they decided the furnace should be erected and went home feeling that they had that day inaugurated a new era in their town, as indeed they had done.

These four men, the two Hammond brothers, Charles F. and John C., Allen Penfield, and Jonas Tower, formed the original company to exploit the deposits of ore. Preparations for building the furnance were made in 1845 and it was finished and the first iron was run out by January 1, 1846.  The furnace, as erected, was forty-five  feet high and nine feet in diameter across the boshes,  diminutive compared with blast furnaces of the present day.  It was a blast furnace, however, as it had a forced draft that was produced by escape heat, which was utilized not only for making steam with which to run the blast power, but also for stamping, for sawing coal brands, and for gridning feed.  Its annual ourput was three thousand five hundred tons of metal, to produce which some six thousand five hundred tons of ore were required.  The iron here produced immediatlely took highest rank.  It was made exclusively from the “Hammnond” ore.  The first steel made in this country under the Bessemer patents is said to have been made from this iron after the establishment of the Bessmer works at Troy, New York.  A large portion of the iron from this furnace was purchased and used in those works.  The furnace was very successful both in the manner of its operation and in the quality of the iron it produced.  The harder and higher qualities of this rion secured for it a constant market for the manufacture of malleable iron.

In 1852, Mr. Tower sold his interest in the company to William H. Dike and Edwin Bogue and the firm was henceforth called the Crown Point Iron Company.  This furnace operated successfully for many years.  It burned down in 1865 but was promptly rebuilt.  In 1872 it was abandoned when new furnaces were built at the shore of Lake Champlain.  Before the end of this period the seemingly inexhaustible supply of wood with which to make the needed charcoal was becoming more and more  depleted.  No wonder — for it consumed six hundred fifty thousand bushels of charcoal a year!  After 1861 wood for fuel became so scarce that the furnace could be run only about three-fourths of the time.  However, during the period of its operation it had established the quality of Crown Point iron and its product had taken premier  rank in the commerce of the nation.  During the Civil War, Crown Point iron was largely used in the armor plates of the warship Monitor whose victory over the rebel ram Merrimac helped to turn the fortunes of that war and revolutionize the world’s navies from wooden ships to ships of iron and steel.

Before the fires of the old furnace had died out and the last stream of molten flux had forever cooled, the nation’s expansion westward was far advanced, together,  with that revolutionary industrial growth that followed after the Civil War.  A pioneer attitude and method of attacking nature’s resources had changed to an advanced standard of exploitation; local industries had become transformed into big industries or had given way to more concentrated establishments elsewhere.  Primitive methods of production and manufacture had become methods of production and manufacture had become outmoded and old plants had become inadequate to supply increased demands.  Transportation had changed largely from water to rail.  The Crown Point region was affected deeply by all these changes.  Lake Champlain, because of the canal that permitted uninterrupted passage by water to the Hudson River, was a live traffic way affording a route to market for the mineral, agricultural, and timber resourcses of the back country, as well as bringing directly in this region the goods need from outside.  Since 1850 the use of anthracite coal had largely supplanted charcoal in those furnaces situated along the lake.  Meantime access by rial also had been established along thewest side oth the lake and the expansion of the railroad system of the Delaware and Hudson (Canal) Company into the region north of Albany was bringing coal from the Pennsylvania mines by direct route for domestic and industrial uses while limestone and waste marble from the quarries of Vermont could be secured to provide flux material.  These could now be economically brought to Crown Point to supply so enlarged industrial plant.  Larger, up-to-date blast furnaces burning coal were now feasible.  The need for iron to build railroads and to supply the increased needs of industrial growth created a great demand.

 

With a view to  adjusting its business to the changes and opportunities of the time by modernizing and enlarging its plant, the Crown Point Iron Company was reorganized in October, 1872, with an increased capitalization.  It was established under “An act for authorization of corporations for manufacturing, mining. and chemical purposes,” with a capital of five hundred thousand dollars in five thousand shares.  One month later the capital was increased to one million two hundred thousand dollars and in November of the following year it was again increased to one million five hundred thousand dollars.  The Company’s bonded indebtedness at its extreme was four hundred twenty-eight thousand dollars, but this amount had been reduced to two hundred twenty-seven thousand dollars by 1884.  In the fall of 1872 a narrow gauge railroad was begun from the lake to the mines thirteen miles back into  the mountains.  At the same time two up-to date blast furnaces were built on the lake shore, together with machine shops, a chemist’s laboratory, company office building, company store, and houses for workmen.  Crown Point at this time was booming with activity.

Champlain Memorial Lighthouse with Pier

Champlain Memorial Lighthouse with Pier

These furnaces were a first constructed to make thirty-five tons of pig iron a day.  In 1879 the plant was agin enlarged and improved so that the average daily output of the two furnaces was one hundred seven tons a day in 1883.  At this time the company’s properties comprised some twenty-odd thousand acres of improved and forest lands, numerous buildings, and three plants, namely:  the two blast furnaces with the machine-shop, wharf, and other buildings near the lake; a forge for the manufacture  of charcoal iron, with separator and foundry at Irondale, six miles west of the furnaces; and the mines with their shops, store, and swelling at Hammondville, together with the railroad connecting all three plants.

The company’s business subsequent to the reorganization in the early eighteen-seventies experienced an alternation of reverses with periods of prosperity.  The panic of 1873 struck Crown Point before the new business was well under way but this depression was weathered so that in 1878 the first dividend was paid since the reorganization and enlargement of its plant.  Dividends were then paid without interruption until 1883, when deficits were substained in all departments – the mines, the furnaces, the separator, and the forge.  The profit and loss during this period was:  1876 gain- $56,000; 1877 gain – $63,000; 1878 gain – $78,000; 1879 gain – $155,000; 1889 gain – 405,000; 1881 gain $209,000; 1882 gain – $203,000 and 1883 loss $35,000.

When the depression in the steel industry struck the Company in 1883 it was not feasible to close down the works entirely, so the producs of the mines accumulated, as the market would not absorb even a reduced output.  They lay in great heaps at the mouths of the mines, about the furnaces, and at the wharf.  By the first of January, 1884, this surplus amounted to more than thirty-two thousand tons of furnance ore.

 

cp burden iron works south troy circa 1886

Burden Iron Works South Troy, NY Circa 1886

 

 

At the time of the first reorganization the necessity for securing increased capital from sources outside the town led to admitting our-0f-town investors into the management of the Company which heretofore had been run entirely by the loal owners.  From this time on, as outside influence became more potent in determining business policy, its management became less efficient and economical.  Because of interlocking interests of certain members of the Crown Point Iron company with the Chateaugay Ore and Iron Company, favors were made it the later company, which, unfortunately, proved to be detrimental to the interst of the Crown Point busiess.

In 1889 twenty – odd thousand tons of ore from the Chateagay mines in Clinton Coutyr were used in the Crown Point furnaces and the value of this ore for furnace use  was demonstrated.  It was proved that the Chateaugay ore in combination with Crown Point ore was a good mixture, but also, the certainty remained undisputed that the Crown Point ore alone made an iron “more open and handsome.”  In 1881, 1882 and 1883, large quantities of the Chateaugay ore were used in the Crown Point furnaces, the proportion to Crown Point ore sometimes being as great as three to one.

The secretary of the Crown Point Iron Company declared in a statement to the Board of Directos in 1884, “I believe that had our business received wise and economical direction during the past year, in its own interest, we would have shown a profit instead of a loss.”  Nevertheless, circumstances beyond local control were bringing about a disaster that eventually overwhelmed the company.

Again in 1893, the iron and steel industry of the country met a serios setback n the severe depression that struck the whole nation.  The Crown Point works were particularly hard hit as this depression came at the same time as the opening of enormous deposits of ich iron ore in Wisconsin and Minnesota which were more advantageously located and more economical for mining and shipping, and at a time when the Crown Point ore reserves were nearly exhausted.  This combination of adverse circumstances put an end to the industry which had flourished well over half a century under the control of enterprising and intellingent local business men and which had brought prosperity to the town.

DSCN2487

 

In the meantime General John Hammond, chief owner and president of the Crown Point Iron Compnay had died in 1889 and control of the company’s business passed from local men to non-residents.  The company failed to make profits and was unable to pay dividends.  Reduced  operation and loans failed to tied over its affairs, and at last a hopeless bankruptcy the entire plant had to be closed.  A mortgage given in 1877 to secure payment of bonds in the amount of four hundred thousand dollars was foreclosed in Octoer, 1899, with two hundred twenty-six thosueand ninety-nine dollars still unpaid.  At this time the entire properties were disposed of at public sale and the more important holdings were acquired by the American Steel and Wire Company.  Subsequently, all lands formerly owned in the towns of Schroon Lake, North Hudson, and Ticonderoga were sold to the State of New York , but the same coproaratin still holds (1941) all the mineral lands in the town of Crown Point.

An epilogue to this story may be added in the brief revival of activities at the furnaces.  In 1901 they were overhaulded and again put in blast by the owner corporation.  The ore used was imported and ferro-manganess was produced instead of pig iron.  The furnaces were not successfully operated and after a brief, though expensive, run the fires were allowed to go out, never again to be lighted.  Year by year machinery rusted, houses lapsed into disrepair, weeds grew between the rails of the railroad and in piles of unused ore; young trees sprang up and before long grew tall enough enough partially to conceal the desolation.

 

Subsequent to the final closing of the furnaces, with a view to reducing the amount of taxable property while retaing title to mineral deposits, most of the building were sold and remaining ones were torn, all machinery at the mines, furnaces, and machine-shops were removed and transported elsewhere or was disposed of as scrap iron; the locomotives and other rolling stock which had been constructed at Crown Pont shops were sold.  The railroad was torn up in 1900 and finally, in 1905, the furnaces were taken down.  Only the lofty brick towers of the two elevators remained for some years longer, notable landmarks by the lakeside.  At last these, too, succumbed and were sold to be razed for the material they contained.
Today, remains of any of these numerous and formerly conspicuous works can hardly be traced.  Winding mounds and earth cuts where trains of ore and passengers use to pass will always mark the trail of the railroad, though in places they are already overgrown with sizable trees.  At Ironville, now a hamlet without even a post-office name, stone abutments of the dam that formerly held the pond can be found in the bushes which encroach on the waters of the creek.  The site of the old charcoal furnace has reverted almost to primeval wilderness, and can be found only by persons familiar with the lore of the locality.  At the mines, where the village of Hammondville stood on the mountaintop with its power hoses, hoists, store, office, two churches, and numerous dwellings, only the partial walls of a stone powder-house remain.  Where that community flourished there is no pasture, fast being taken over by raspberry and blueberry bushes, and sapling birches.  Fearsome, yawning chasms of the open mines, here and there on the mountain top. some of them already hidden in dense woods, will remain to excite the imagination of the casual visitor and to challenge some antiquarian to a hazardous day’s exploration amongst the concealing thickets and repossessing forests.

 

Ticonderoga Historical Society - Hancock House

Ticonderoga Historical Society – Hancock House

This article was researched and written by Dr. E. (Elmer) Eugene Barker, an former member of the Ticonderoga Historical Society,  in 1941.  An original text and additional historical material and bibliographical notes are from our archives.  Photographs are not part of this collection.  Dr. Barker was born in Crown Point, NY in 1886 and died in Ticonderoga, NY in 1964 and is buried at Forest Dale Cemetery in Crown Point.  This article was also published in “New York History” October, 1942 quarterly publication. (Copy in our archives)   He attended both Cornell and Harvard Universities.  He was a licensed landscape architect and well-know as a historian and researcher in many fields.  Early in his career he taught plant breeding at Cornell and the University of Georgia, was a research assistant with the New York State Division of State Planning and for two years the Chief Agronomist of the Puerto Rico Insular Agricultural Experiment Station.

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The Ticonderoga Historical Society is a private, not-for-profit, 501-c organization.  Founded in 1897 and  chartered by the Regents of New York State in 1909.  Memberships welcomed.

 

8/21/16 wgd

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