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This is the picture that an itinerate photographer took of the furnace.
I wish you could have been there. Do you see that archway at the bottom? You could stand three men, one on top of the other’s shoulders, and the third one’s head still would not touch the top of the arch.
Look at the size of those stones that make up the blast furnace. Some of them have to be five feet square. And the steel tie rods that hold the whole thing together. Where did they come from?
There is one thing missing from this rendering. That is the trestle. The workmen used it to throw the mixture of clay, iron ore and charcoal into the top of the furnace. This perspective is from standing on the dirt road. If you looked to the left of the rendering you could see Adirondac, Adirondack, or Tahawus – – – or whatever the little mining village was called or however it was spelled over the years of its existence; 1831 to 18?? depending on who was squatting there.
This is how I remember it just after the furnace was shut down.
Look at the size of that moat that surrounds the blast furnace. If you look closely you can see the steel tie-rods that kept the whole thing together. There are six of them exposed on each side.
The trestle for loading the furnace is long gone. I think I have a drawn plan of it somewhere here in my tin tea cabinet. The cabinet keeps the mice away from my papers.
Oh yes, here it is!
Now you can get an idea of how big the furnace is. The loading trestle ran from the furnace to the left. It crossed the road and tied into the opposite hill-side. Look how deep that moat was.
They labeled this the “New Furnace.” It was the last of several different size furnaces that they built. None of them seemed to do the smelting in the manner that they wished. Finally they had high production with this one. However, there was something in the iron ore that did not bother the other furnaces or “bloomers” as they sometimes called them. That something was titanium oxide. It raised holy hell with this new furnace.
They could keep this furnace going week after week and just keep on loading it with the fodder of iron ore and other things that it ate. In the top went the food and out the bottom came the little piglets of iron.
But the furnace needed a set of lungs to keep it breathing smoke, soot and trepidation. So they re-routed one stream into the headwaters of the Hudson River; which was also a stream at that point. Then they built a big dam and a water wheel that drove a set of gears that drove a set of tie rods that forced a set of four monster pistons into their respective cylinders. This gave them a continuous blast of compressed air that kept the blast furnace quite pleased.
Now give me a minute, I think I have a drawing of that “works” here somewhere. Yes here it is. Let me spread it out on the table next to the drawing of the furnace. Maybe you can get an idea of how the “works” and the furnace were connected by a large pipe. This pipe also acted as storage for the compressed air. It kept the “blast” at a nice even keel.
You see how the Hudson was dammed up on the right, flowed over the top of the large water-wheel which had large gears mounted on it? The large gears drove the smaller gears which had tie-rods attached to them. On the left end of the tie rods were the four pistons, each about four feet in diameter, that compressed the air into four cylinders.
See that round circle on top of the cylinders? That is the pipe that connected the “works” to the blast furnace. It stored and carried the air to the furnace.
Wait just a second. I think I have an even better drawing of the compression “works.”
There, that gives a better view of how the large dam held the Hudson back and forced the water over the wheel. This view is almost the opposite of the previous one. The blast furnace is now behind us as we look at the “works.” You can get a better idea of how the crankshafts drove the pistons.
Can you imagine the men who built all of this while the black flies and mosquitoes were eating them alive? Perseverance is an amazing attribute.
But in the end they gave up because of the titanium oxide.
See right here in this old manuscript that I saved? Damn mice have eaten some of it.
I am glad that they mentioned Henderson. Poor fellow died when his gun accidentally went off. The men at the mine were lost without him.
The forest is starting to overcome the furnace now.
It has been shut down for twenty years; since around 1860. I think Henderson was the glue that tied the whole thing together. Without him things just didn’t seem to go right.
It is sad to see all that work end in nothing.
The men must have been beside themselves leaving this all behind; knowing that their efforts were for naught.
But then again, I guess we all have to leave things behind.