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Iron Industry in Hampshire County

Notes on the Iron Industry in Our County

from: The Antebellum Iron Industry In Western Virginia; eastern counties; by Dave Allen, Editor
Of the ironworks in Hampshire County, James Morton Callahan writes (in 1923):
“Among the early iron industries in Hampshire was the Hampshire Furnace Company, whose plant was built and operated by Edward McCarty, on Middle ridge, twelve miles south of Romney. The forge for the furnace was near Keyser. An extensive business was carried on by this company, as shown by the many ponderous account books of 1816-18 now in possession of the clerk of the courts at Romney. “The Bloomery Furnaces, ruins of which are still to be seen, were built and operated by a Mr. Priestly, and were being run in 1833. Large quantities of iron were made and shipped over the Capon River on rafts and flatboats, S. A. Pancoast purchased these furnaces in 1846, and after his death they continued in other hands until 1875.”


See also: The Role of the Bloomery Iron Furnace in the District of Bloomery, Hampshire County, Virginia/West Virginia, 1850-1880; by Robert B. Wolford; (Masters Thesis), California, PA, 1996


"The Virginias" (Nov. 1884) mentions two charcoal blast furnaces in this area:

  • Bloomery Furnace, Bloomery Furnace Co., Bloomery P. O., Hampshire Co. WV. One stack 40' x 9', built in 1844, rebuilt in 1880; closed top; cold blast; product, car-wheel and mill pig iron; weekly capacity 60 net tons. Property for sale. Contact John Birkinbine, 144 South 4th St., Philadelphia, PA.
  • Capon Iron Works, Keller & Co., Capon Iron Works, Hardy county. One stack 32' x 8, built in 1822 by James Sterrett, and run by him for some time, then sold to Geo. F. Hupp, and in 1856 bought by J. J. Keller, who has since run the works; open top; cold blast; ore, local hematite; product, car-wheel iron; annual capacity 1,500 net tons.


See also: Hampshire County, West Virginia, 1754-2004, edited by Roberta Munske and Wilmer Kerns; The Hampshire County 250th Anniversary Committee, 2004; pp. 53-54


Notes on Timeline:

The first furnace was built by Robert Rutherford in 1770. It was sold to Isaac Zane who owned it from 1779-1805; his purpose in ownership was to close the furnace to eliminate competition with his other furnace in Winchester. In 1833 Pastley had built a newer, better type of furnace for William Naylor on the site. Pastley bought the new furnace in 1837 with a loan from John Kerns, Jr., and owned it until 1839. Later he defaulted on the loan and the property passed to Kerns. It seems to have been out of operation from 1857 to 1880. The iron furnace was operated again for a short time in 1880-81. Annual capacity was 8500 tons. Iron was carried on rafts and flat boats down the Cacapon River to the Potomac. The furnace fell into disuse after 1881.


The West Virginia Geological Survey notes that the Bloomery Gap iron ore was also mined in 1880-1881.

This sale ad in the Intelligencer is in relation to Pastley's ownership
which ended in 1839. It gives some idea of the size of the operation.


Possible resources:
   West Virginia Geological Survey, Vol. IV, Chap. V, 1909
   Directory of Iron and Steel Works of the United States and Canada, By American Iron and Steel Association, American Iron and Steel Institute, 1888 & 1892 editions
   Gordon, Robert R., American Iron, 1607-1900, Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996.
   Hotchkiss, Jed. Editor, The Virginias: A Mining, Industrial and Scientific Journal, Vol.V, p. 174. Staunton, VA. 1884.
   McCormick, Kyle, "The Story of Iron Mining in West Virginia," West Virginia History, Vol. 21.