Towers of Fire: Iron Production in the Pine Barrens

Teegate

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Sep 17, 2002
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Ben,

I enjoyed the article very much. As I have said before you are in the wrong career.

I was very nice of Bud to review your work. Kudos to him!

Guy
 

Sky042

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Sep 24, 2005
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I just posted an article that I started working on before my daughter was born, detailing the process of creating and refining bog iron ore.

http://www.njpinebarrens.com/content/view/62/40/

Hopefully you all will like it, and perhaps it may make things a bit clearer. Forges and furnaces are pretty confusing!

For some reason when I click that link I get a notice saying I'm not authorized to view this resource.
 

diggersw

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Dec 4, 2003
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Ben,
Great article. It was very comprehensive regarding the Pine Barrens iron industry. I think that it will be a building block for further work in the area. And, it was really nice that Budd got a chance to chime in. He is a tremendous resource when it comes to the NJ Pinebarrens. He always keeps abrest of current scholarship in the area.
My only question for you regarding your research is: to what extent do you think Pennsylvania's proximity to the changing industrial raw materials (i.e. Anthracite coal vs. charcoal, and higher grade iron ore vs. bog iron) play a role in the downfall of the New Jersey Pine Iron industry? Obviously a big one, but in what way. Do you think that the bog iron industry could have carved some form of niche in local markets, especially with nearby manufacturers? And, why, in your opinion, do you think that it did not?

Just some further research questions, or even topics for discussion amongst researchers.

Scott W.
 

Ben Ruset

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PA's iron could be produced cheaper, and at a higher quality than the Jersey forges could produce. Bog iron was an expensive proposition - especially when you factor in the costs of getting the goods to market. PA had the benefit of a very good rail system, whereas the Jersey forges had to load up wagons and haul their goods either direct to market, or to a landing where a schooner would bring them to market.

I don't really know what sort of niche the Jersey Iron furnaces could have gotten into, unless somehow there was a niche market for brittle, sub-par iron products.
 

diggersw

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Ben,
I like your reply. Bog iron was definitely a sub-par product, whose own uselessness contributed to its failure. I would be interested to see how long and what sorts of items made from bog iron stood the test of time. I believe that the Ocean County Historical Society has a salt pan from the Pennsylvania Salt Works (Revolutionary War period) in their collection that came from one of the bog iron industries. It would be interesting to see what other items survived.

Just some food for thought.

Scott W.
 

Ben Ruset

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Longevity isn't really the problem. What lasted would have lasted forever. I am convinced that there are sewer pipes in New York City that are still lined with Jersey Iron.

But I don't doubt for a minute that there was a LOT of stuff that broke early on in it's life due to being too brittle.

Bog iron just isn't as consistent a material to work with as other types of iron.
 

LARGO

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Sep 7, 2005
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But I don't doubt for a minute that there was a LOT of stuff that broke early on in it's life due to being too brittle.Bog iron just isn't as consistent a material to work with as other types of iron.

I am not sure but I believe there was the occasional issue of Cannons and like equipment that failed almost immediately in use due to this issue. Tests indicated the need for heavier material thicknesses and such.
 

Tom

Explorer
Feb 10, 2004
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There is a shattered cannon with a ball that was pulled out of the North Branch of the Rancocas creek at the Pemberton Historical Society (the train station) that is believed to have come from Hanover.
 
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