Wednesday, September 22, 2010



I will NOT be able to make this event, though with friend Mike McCarthy undertaking a demonstration iron smelt I really hate to miss it! Since its in the NE corner (about 8 hours from Wareham) some of my readers may be interested??

This event is in response to the interest of a number of the participants in having an informal gathering where they could share their ongoing work with others who might be interested, and learn what kinds of research on the subject are being done by people in other fields.
The presentations will be in the Huxley Theater at the Museum. Presentation times may vary slightly from those listed here. Outside demonstrations will be held at the Normanskill Farm blacksmith shop in Albany and the Watervliet Arsenal Museum.
8:00 a.m. at the Normanskill Farm (see enclosed map and directions)
Iron Smelting Demonstration: Michael McCarthy, Artist Blacksmith and pioneer in the redevelopment of traditional iron smelting technology, will smelt iron for us in an ongoing process at the Normanskill Farm blacksmith shop, ten minutes from the museum. The process will start in the morning, and we will get to see the results after the day’s presentations. We will have a little over an hour to see the start before heading over to the Museum’s theater. Presentations will end in time for us to see the culmination of the smelting process at the farm.
10:00 a.m. in the Huxley Theater, New York State Museum
Wrought Iron in the 19th Century Blacksmith Shop: Exploring the Properties and Peculiarities of Wrought Iron.
Wrought iron has physical properties much different from modern steel. How did the unique qualities of wrought iron affect hardware design, working methods, and even the scrap left behind in a 19th Century Blacksmith Shop?
We will examine physical examples, historic hardware, and hear first person commentary.
A. What is Wrought Iron really?
B. Grain and Slag: the unique working quirks of Wrought.
C. Go with the Flow: How iron's linear grain and easy welding affected all everyday
hardware and manufacture.
D. Steel vs. Wrought: Examples of iron hardware that can't be easily replicated using steel.
E. In their own words: Examples from 19th century blacksmith's letters to trade journals.
F. Scrap. How wrought scrap is produced and recycled, & how to identify it (with examples).
Steven J. Kellogg
Supervisor, The Fields Blacksmith Shop,
The Farmers’ Museum, Cooperstown, NY
“The Field Identification of Rural Blacksmith Shops"
An explanation of the basics of how to identify blacksmithing archaeological sites and structures based on the author's experience both as an archaeologist and as an amateur blacksmith.
Daniel Seib, M.A., Archaeologist, Public Archaeology Facility, S.U.N.Y. at Binghamton

“Archaeology on the Northern Reaches: the Billings Blacksmith Shop, Canandaigua, NY”
The north end of Main Street, Canandaigua, was the "rough district" of this otherwise staid and proper city. Commercial, racially mixed and on the cross roads east to west, north to south, the corner of Main Street and Chapel Street was a slice of regular life in the later nineteenth century--in contrast to morally uplifting or social welfare-focused journals and magazines of the period. Focused around the business and homes on the corner, the FLCC Field school excavations in 2007 and 2009 revealed a more pragmatic and diverse view of business and private life.
Dr. Ann Morton, Cultural Resources Manager,
Fisher Associates, P.E., in Rochester, New York.
1:15 pm
“Images of the Adirondack Bloom Iron Industry”
The Adirondack-Lake Champlain region of northern New York was the nation’s highest producer of bloomery forge wrought iron throughout the 19th century, involving dozens of primarily small forge sites along the region’s waterways. While a few detailed historical descriptions of such operations are available, the archaeological and photographic record of these former enterprises is limited. This presentation focuses on a set of recently found stereoview images from 1876 of the large-scale operations of the Peru Steel & Iron Company at Clintonville, NY, which was the subject of archaeological investigations between 1994 and 2001.
Dr. Gordon Pollard- Professor Emeritus, S.U.N.Y. Plattsburg, Industrial Archaeologist
"From forest, to Company Town, and Back Again: Survey and History of the Copake Iron Works."
An archaeological survey of structures and deposits on the surface of the Copake Iron Works site (1841-1903) in Columbia County, New York. A description of a survey performed to enhance the preservation and interpretation of the site for the Taconic State Park. Sutherland investigated documents on the land use and community development of the site. The presentation will cover his methodology, final report, and how this report has been used.
Fred Sutherland, doctoral candidate in Industrial Archaeology
and Heritage Management at Michigan Technological University
The National and the Local: Peter Townsend’s Newburgh Cannon Foundry, 1815-25
In 1817 Peter Townsend (Jr), using a substantial advance from the War Department, built a foundry in Newburgh, NY to produce ordnance for the US Army. Townsend produced a number of cannon that were proved to acclaim by Army inspectors, but encountered both technological and financial troubles and was unable to meet Ordnance Dept. orders. The foundry struggled on into the 1820s but was eventually sold. This failure is put into stark relief by the success of the nearby West Point Foundry, started at the same time on Navy Ordnance advances, which flourished for nearly a century. Archival research tells a salutary tale of starting an iron foundry in America’s early industrial age, of the role of private and public capital in developing the venture, and of relying on a single, complex product to sustain a foundry.
Steven A. Walton, Historian of Technology,
Pennsylvania State University
Return to the Normanskill Farm
8:00 a.m.
Tour of the Historic Belt-driven Machine-shop at the Watervliet Arsenal Museum.
Bob Rawls has been assembling and enlarging a working, mostly 19th century machine shop and will explain and demonstrate some of the equipment.
Robert C. Rawls- Historic machine shop
re-constructor and volunteer at the
Watervliet Arsenal Museum.
“The Clinton Sedimentary Iron Ores, New York”
Nearly all sedimentary iron deposits in New York are part of the well-known Clinton iron ores. Multiple hematite-rich layers formed in a shallow sea between New York, Alabama and Wisconsin around 440 million years ago (Silurian Period), during times of rising sea level. Thicker layers were mined in New York, chiefly in Oneida, Cayuga and Wayne counties, from the late 1700s through the mid-1960s.
Dr. Charles VerStraeten,
Sedimentary Geologist,
New York State Museum
“Textural and Mineralogical Study of the Igneous Iron Deposits of New York”
New York State was a significant supplier of iron ore used in developing the resources and industries of the United States through the first part of the 20th century. The most important regions with iron deposits were in the Adirondack Mountains and the Hudson Highlands. Both iron mining regions belong to a large metallogenetic belt that developed in the Grenville (Proterozoic) rocks (1.3 to 1.0 Ga) in New York and New Jersey.
The Hudson Highlands, in southeastern New York, are the site of a swarm of unusual peridotites intrusive in Grenvillian rocks. These are associated with a string of small deposits of magnetite that were exploited 150 years ago. They also contain magnetite, and may contain pyrrhotite with pentlandite exsolution and chalcopyrite.
The iron ore from the eastern Adirondacks is composed of magnetite (partially replaced by hematite), apatite and clinopyroxene with a vartiety of other minerals.
A detailed mineralogical and textural study of the iron ore and subsequent consequences for ore processing will be discussed.
Dr. Marian Lupulescu, Curator of Geology New York State Museum
“Between Mine, Forest, and Foundry: An Archaeological Study of the West Point Foundry, Cold Spring, New York”
The West Point Foundry Association established a charcoal blast furnace in Cold Spring, New York in 1827 to make pig iron for the foundry. Making it unique among period blast furnaces, owners integrated the furnace within the foundry layout to take advantage of their existing property and waterpower system. To construct a history of the furnace and surrounding site, researchers with Michigan Technological University conducted investigations of the West Point Foundry blast furnace site between 2004 and 2006 through historical background research, archaeological site excavation and documentation, and archaeometallurgical analysis of pig iron samples. Results allowed researchers to outline the history of the site and more fully understand the integration of the furnace within the foundry.
T. Arron Kotlensky, Archaeologist,
John Milner Associates
“A Million Horseshoes a Week: How Henry Burden Mechanized the Blacksmith Shop”
Between 1822 and his death in 1871, Henry Burden transformed the tiny Troy Iron and Nail Factory into one of the largest and most important iron works in history by mechanizing the production of common blacksmith items, most notably railroad spikes and horseshoes, and by introducing new production machinery, such as the rotary concentric squeezer. This lecture will trace these developments and assess the significance of his success.
P. Thomas Carroll, Executive Director,
Hudson Mohawk Industrial Gateway, RiverSpark Heritage Area, and Burden Iron Works Museum
“The Swaging and Rolling of Iron in Henry Burden’s Horseshoe Manufacturing Process”
Henry Burden introduced the manufacture of horseshoes by means of a revolutionary machine process in the 1830s. This is a discussion of some of the most important iron forming techniques used in Henry Burden’s method. Rawls has studied the process by creating working models from the original patent drawings, and explains some of the most important swaging and rolling processes that went into their design. He will have his models on display.
Robert C. Rawls- Historic machine shop
re-constructor and volunteer at the
Watervliet Arsenal Museum.

The Construction, Use, and Dissolution of the Adirondack Iron and Steel Company’s “New Furnace”.
New York State Museum excavations at this well preserved mid 19th century iron blast furnace revealed an extensive masonry sub floor platform. Deposits on this preparatory surface illustrate the construction sequence and finishing touches prior to the first firing. The brief use life of the furnace is marked by a mottled blend of charcoal, slag, clay and artifacts. Details of the anorthracite, sandstone, and brick masonry supports of the hot blast system’s bustle pipes and tuyeres were exposed during these investigations. Excavations revealed a cast iron runner in the blast arch along with runner supports and vertical iron guide rods suggesting the chute was moved periodically to deliver molten iron to different parts of the casting house. The content and character of the uppermost levels, notably a sequence of brick fragments, fire clay, and sandstone, document the abandonment and post-abandonment processes subsequent to the last furnace firing in 1856. Artifacts in the upper levels also testify to a century of visitations by curious tourists attracted to this industrial giant in the wilderness.
David Staley, Archaeologist
New York State Museum-Cultural Resource Survey
“All things Roycroftie: Excavations at the Roycroft Blacksmith Shops, 2010”
A large parking and drainage project scheduled for Fall 2010 on the Roycroft Campus, East Aurora, Erie County, NY necessitated Phase III data recovery on this National Landmark site. Included in the program were excavations of two blacksmith shops, dated approximately 1899-1902 and 1902-1938. Worked revealed details of both structures, and of the evolving nature of the Arts and Crafts Movement--particularly the day to day business behind the artistic facade.
Dr. Ann Morton, Cultural Resources Manager for Fisher Associates, P.E., in Rochester, New York.
“Work Areas in a Country Blacksmith Shop”
The areas where specific parts of the blacksmith’s work are performed are dictated by the necessities of the processes used and the limitations of the workspace itself. This is an explanation of how these areas may be located on an archaeological site.
Martin Pickands, Archaeologist,
New York State Museum Cultural Resource Survey

From the West:
I 90 to Exit 24.
I 90 east to exit 6A for I 787 South.
I 787 south to exit for Empire State Plaza.

From the South:
I 87 north to Exit 23.
Follow I 787 to the exit for the Empire State Plaza.

From the East:
I 90 west to exit 6A for I 787 South.
I 787 south to exit for Empire State Plaza.

From the north:
I 87 Northway south to exit 1 for I 90 East (Boston).
I90 East to exit for I 787 South.
I 787 south to exit for Empire State Plaza.

Go under the plaza, around the turn at the end, and back to the last exit under the plaza on the right.
Take the exit and turn right on Madison Avenue. The main entrance to the Museum will be on your left, under the large pedestrian bridge. Follow the signs inside.

Parking is available in two lots to your left on either side of the Museum, and on the street.


From the West:
I 90 to I 87 Thruway South.
I 87 south to Exit 23.
Take the ramp on the right immediately after the toll booth.

From the South:
I 87 north to Exit 23.
Take the ramp on the right immediately after the toll booth.

From the North:
I 87 Northway south to Exit 1
I 87 NYS Thruway south to Exit 23.
Take the ramp on the right immediately after the toll booth.

From the East:
I 90 to the exit for I 787 South.
I 787 South to end.

Turn left and drive straight on Southern Blvd./ McCarty Ave. until it ends at a traffic light on Delaware Avenue.
Turn left on Delaware, pass the cemetery on the left, and take a left just before the long bridge.
Follow the road to the parking lot at Normaskill Farm, then walk to the smithy (about 1/8 mile).


Follow the road from the parking lot back to Delaware Ave. and turn right.
Delaware Avenue to Madison Avenue and turn right.
Museum is three blocks down on the right.


Take the 23rd. St. Exit from I 787
West 1 block to Broadway (NY32)
Left on Broadway past arsenal, bear right on 3rd. Ave. (still NY32)
Enter through Security Checkpoint on right.
Ask directions.

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February 15 - May 15, 2012 : Supported by a Crafts Projects - Creation and Development Grant

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