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Clove Furnace

Clove Furnace Site is a 19th-century blast furnace and a small museum about iron making in the Hudson River Valley.

One of many blast furnaces in the iron ore rich region now part of Sterling Forest and Harriman State Parks, the Clove Furnace opened in 1854, producing some 5,000 tons of iron by the following year - and 101,000 tons in the decade between 1871 and 1881. Its huge stone stack, which used coal (instead of the more usual charcoal) to melt the ore, is 54 feet high and 35 feet square at the base. Iron produced there was used for the manufacture of stoves and other hardware. The furnace was shut down in 1885; the site is now the headquarters of the Orange County Historical Society.

The restored stack, spillway, and other buildings provide a rare glimpse into an important 19th-century industry in the Hudson River Valley, while the adjacent museum explains the iron-making process and offer displays about other aspects of Orange County history. Hiking trails in Harriman State Park pass many of the mines that once supplied this and other furnaces.

The demand for Iron products in the North American colonies was at first satisfied by importing from Britain. There were many iron works in production in Pennsylvania and in other colonies as early as 1740's. With a few as early as the 17th century. But as vast iron deposits were discovered in the colonies and ironworks established, the colonies began to export bar and pig iron to England, as well as supply American markets in sufficient quantities to compete seriously with British imports. So much so that Parliament passed the Iron Act of 1750, restricting colonial ironworks to the prodution of bar and pig. But the Act was honored much more in the breach rather than the observance, as confirmed by the variety of products supplied to local markets by forges and furnaces. Even the Royal Governors found profit by looking the other way at the iron works in their colonies. Domestic iron production was widespread during the several decades prior to the Revolution, much of it being initiated and conducted on behalf of investors from Great Britain.

It has been estimated that as of 1775, what would become the United States was producing one-seventh of the world's iron.

While Washington saw holding the Hudson Highlands as crucial from a geographic standpoint, there was another important consideration. The entire region of the Hudson Highlands, stretching west from Danbury CT, crossing to the west shore of the Hudson and south to Pompton NJ was heavily mineralized with iron ore.

Visiting Clove Furnace

9 a.m.-11 a.m. and 1-4 p.m. Mon.-Fri. and on weekends by appointment.

Free admission.

Specifics on visiting the Clove Furnace were correct at time of publication. We would suggest that you confirm dates and times prior to your visit.
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