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