MHT File Photo
Nassawango Iron Furnace Site
Old Furnace Road, , Furnace, , Worcester County
The Nassawango Iron Furnace Archeological Site consists of one furnace stack, slag piles, cellar ruins, piles of brick, fragments of glass, brick, ceramics, shell and slag, and foundations. The furnace stack is made of stone on brick. The upper portion retains the iron hot blast tubes as well as a majority of the integral hot blast apparatus. Foundation ruins extend north of the stack on the east side of a private road. The head of the race was located in the middle of this area. The casting bridge ramp site is located to the west of the stack; a wheel pit site exists immediately to the south. Slag piles extend southeast from the stack and exist on the north side of Old Furnace Road. Evidence from a 1877 Worcester County map points strongly to the existence of foundations of two structures, one on the west side of Millville Road and another on the east side of the unused county road which extends south from Old Furnace Road, and two more on the south side of Old Furnace Road. Four piles of brick exist along the east side of the unused county road. One pair above the intersection with the private road and one pair below. Six possible cellar foundations have been positively identified along the unused county road near the furnace. Two modern logging trails exist, one paralleling the boundary of the Pocomoke State Forest and the other the Old Furnace Road meeting at the intersection of the forest and the road. Debris relating to the iron industry have been found in this area. The boundaries of the Nassawango Site are extended beyond the immediate furnace area so as to include all known features related to the iron production as well as relevant cultural material as yet undiscovered. Fragments of glass, brick, shell and slag exist scattered throughout the boundaries. The boundaries include a church site on the west side of the unused county road and the dam site.
Nassawango Furnace was erected in 1830 by the Maryland Iron Company to smelt iron from the bog ore formations in the immediate vicinity. It is the only furnace in Maryland ever to make extensive use of bog ore. It operated only until 1849, and was reported to be in dilapidated condition by 1859. The furnace produced about 700 tons of iron per year, but the quality and distribution of the bog ore may have caused the several financial failures which the ironworks underwent. The most significant fact about the furnace is that it made use of hot blast techniques only a few years after the idea was developed in England in 1828-1830. If the Nassawango Furnace was built with the hot blast gear installed from the beginning, and not later converted, it would have to be one of the first hot blast furnaces in America. Even if the equipment was added late in the life of the furnace, it would still qualify as a very early example of the hot blast technology. It has been suggested that the blast apparatus was likely added to the existing stack during a time of ownership change, either in 1837 or 1840.