Obviously this is not a detailed account , and because I reside in Delaware, it does not belong in Legends and lore for the Pine Barrens. There are those of us who come into this life susceptible to vices not immediately obvious. Those with a weakness for alcohol, tobacco, or fast living, can count their blessings, for unless they also become addicted to fishing, they have been spared the effects of one of the most insidious ailments known to mankind. We can only recommend the establishment of a support group that could be known as ‘Fishers Anonymous’? Family members, we number ourselves among this group, could then learn to cope with the symptoms which include, an involuntary movement of the right forearm, glassy eyed perusal of fishing catalogs, and the creation of an endless stream of artificial lures. Well dressed men of unblemished reputation may be closet addicts. Some have been known to pull to the side of the road, to remove the tails from roadkill, for use as streamer material, while their passengers, with averted faces, pretend not to know such a gross individual. Such was the failing of my companion on a trip up Deep creek to satisfy my own addiction to obscure local history. I’ve been known to interrogate old residents seeking out old industry. So who cares to know about the location of Millsboro’s basket factory? I suppose I do, but this quest was to seek out the remains of Sussex county’s ruins of the colonial, bog iron industry. When the immigration to America began, one of the first priorities became the internal production of tools, farm implements and household items made of iron. The importation of those things was common, but relations with the mother country became increasingly strained, and domestic production became a necessity. The accepted way to produce iron was known as the cold blast furnace. We refer to producing the metal from deposits of iron bearing ore that could be mined locally from bogs. It should not be confused with a foundry, or cupola furnace, or a forge, although some furnaces cast directly from a tap hole into molds of the finished item, but usually produced iron bars called pigs, that were remelted in a secondary furnace or forge. (I prize a final incomplete pig I can make out ‘SPEEDWELL’ a furnace.) It wasn’t long before the bog iron ore was supplemented with imported ore with a higher content of iron. Southern New Jersey and Pennsylvania, were not the first places to undertake the production of iron. The first furnace was located in Virginia, and closed by the massacre of the workers. The first successful operation was at Saugus in Massachusetts and some workers were sent south, spreading the knowledge. Philadelphia became a center of the industry because Philadelphia merchants were responsible for the establishment of many of the furnaces. During much later times Virginia furnaces continued to maintain offices in the City of Brotherly Love. (in the Bourse building) Three things were necessary for the production of iron. Charcoal to provide the fuel to extract the iron from the ore. It is thought by many clearing of land was done exclusively by farmers, but much land was cleared to provide charcoal for the early cold blast furnaces. It has been estimated that it took four hundred acres of timber, more or less, to produce the charcoal to extract one ton of iron. (?) Looking at the production figures of the furnaces, it will be obvious that large quantities of charcoal were required. It is estimated a cold blast furnace, charged and replenished regularly, will produce about 360 tons of iron in a year. If it is cooled with the iron still inside, it cannot be operated again. During the civil war the Union army sent men to put the fires out in Virginia furnaces. The second ingredient was ‘flux’ which in South Jersey, and Delaware was almost always of oyster shells. Most important of all was the ore. Pennsylvania had hard metallic ores in quantity and this, along with anthracite coal, and was the reason why Pennsylvania eventually became the iron and steel center of the country. Before that, when the cold blast charcoal furnaces were the cutting edge of technology, bog iron ore was the only source. Coke was used later, succeeding to anthracite coal, and hot blast replaced cold blast. Bog iron forms when iron salts in the earth percolate through the soil, and form deposits that contain a usable percentage of iron. It forms in low wet areas and can be mined or, as the term was then used, raised. When in it’s original state, it is soft but when raised and exposed to the air, it becomes hard and resembles sandstone. In South Jersey, and perhaps in Delaware too, it is still possible to see the neat geometric patterns of places where bog iron has been raised. Like most nature and history, one must learn what to look for. All that remains is the construction of a furnace along some waterway that will assure a constant supply of water power for the tubs that provide the blast of cold air into the furnace. In Delaware many of the ditches and tributaries lack that requirement. During a hot summer with little rain, sizable streams dry up completely, so locations of iron furnaces in Sussex county were limited. Millsboro, Concord and a place near Middleford were the locations of three furnaces in Sussex county. (As I recall, Concord was established by a New Jersey man.) The furnaces are little more than a mist on the pages of Delaware history. Even the oldest natives know little about the operation of the furnaces in those places but they shaped the history of Sussex county, and were responsible for the locations of some of the towns. With all the forgoing in mind, we joined with a piscatorial addict. We intended to take our canoe up Deep Creek to search out evidence of Colonial industry along it’s banks. July in Delaware is hot and humid, and we chose a hot and humid day. We located a place we could launch our canoe which was then cluttered up by two fishing rods, and a tackle box. We were off. Lilly pads were scattered about, and the water was calm. The fisherman opined that the algae and grass were thick because of agricultural runoff, but with “all that vegetation, the fishing should be good”. He set about to prove it. It is almost impossible to manipulate a paddle and a fishing rod simultaneously, so the motive power was reduced by one half. While not “without a paddle”, we were up the creek without a paddler. Credit where credit is due, the fisherman was proficient. A small cork bodied bug seemed to search out all the places where large bass was likely to reside, and often did. One of us could already count the trip a success. At first we saw other boats, with otherwise sane men flailing the water with spinning rods and lures. I doubt their efforts were rewarded as well as those of my companion who found a steady succession of bass, of considerable size. Each and every one he released after admiring it. ‘Beauty was in the eye of the beholder. I found much to admire. It wasn’t long before a Great Blue Heron objected to our company, and flew away croaking out a few syllables translated to, ‘there goes the neighborhood’. The stream narrowed, and the water became clearer and deeper. A Kingfisher flew off from his perch on a magnolia tree along the bank. His summer plumage was at it’s peak and suitable for a page in Audubon’s book. Every stump and branch in the water seemed to be resting place for a turtle. Like the Heron, they left when we arrived. At one turn in the creek there was a shallow spot, and the keen eyes of the fisherman directed me to the dinner-plate sized shell of a snapping turtle there. Now and then, as the stream narrowed, the trees closed in on us, a flash of color showed a warbler tending to his business of the day. Off in the distance we could hear a tribe of jays protesting as jays must do. The bank to our right had changed, and was now about twenty feet (?) above us. At the bottom were bushes that overhung the stream, and we stopped to pick the blueberries that grew there in profusion. They were more plentiful, and sweeter than the ones at home. Perhaps berries are sweeter, and bigger where there are few to pick them. At one place in the bank were large holes that were the homes ? of furry creatures who did not come out to greet us. We found a spot along the bank, tied the canoe and climbed to the top. There we could see the depression of a long forgotten road that probably connected early enterprises along the creek. Except for the foundations of an early mill where we put the canoe in, that made the full extent of archaeological discovery for the day. We were both pleased with what else we found along the way. The trip in all it’s tranquil splendor, rewarded us with sights, and an atmosphere seldom found in our usual days. We do not often find ourselves floating on a creek or stream, but when we do, it marks those times as very special.