UP THE CREEK

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Heywood, Jan 11, 2018.

  1. Heywood

    Heywood New Member

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    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.
     
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  2. bobpbx

    bobpbx Piney
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    Heywood, did you author that piece? I assume you are a writer, and perhaps are published in newspaper & magazines or some such?
     
  3. Heywood

    Heywood New Member

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    No! A couple of times someting got published, but I decided to create a repository for little stories I had done for some time and the first volume of twenty some tales filled the table of contents so now I'm working on inserting some more in volume two. I'm pasting the preface below and it should answer your question. I only wish now that I have done more when I travelled around the Wharton tract, but I'd love to be able to read other folks tales.

    " In this world, There are people who can sing. Some folks can tell stories. Others store so much in their heads they can go on Jeopardy. That leaves lots of people who are athletic. Some run faster than I can pedal my bicycle. So here am I, approaching the end of my eightieth decade, unable to do any of those things. As for the stories, if I could remember a humorous one, I’d fail miserably delivering the punch line. Pity this useless wretch who has outlived the capable people, to see a new crop appear on the scene. I rest easy knowing that none of those accomplishments mean a thing without someone like me, to appreciate them. Of course there is a sense of depression not knowing the questions to the answers posed on Jeopardy.
    Now that I think of it, The whole concept of uselessness enhanced by birthdays is completely wrong. When I mentioned stories I realized that my whole life has been a succession of stories. Some good, some bad, but when they occurred, they weren’t stories, they were everyday events. It took me about eighty years to see them as stories with the table of contents engraved in my long term memory. Those events, told to me by another person weren’t written down on paper. They came in bits and snatches, better than anything at the local library. I relate them without fear of contradiction, secure in the knowledge that my account may now be the only version."
     
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  4. bobpbx

    bobpbx Piney
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    I used to like Jeopardy back int he 80's (?). I was fair at it until they started asking way too many questions about entertainers and movies. I am bad about that stuff as I have little interest in the lives of entertainers.
     
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  5. ecampbell

    ecampbell Piney

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    I prefer Wheel of Torture.
     
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  6. manumuskin

    manumuskin Piney

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    Same here Bob.I have had a flat screen TV for five years and still don't know how to turn it on.It's for Momma and the Grandkids..I have no interest in the personal lives of entertainers or athletes either.I often hear animated discussions at work talking about so and so did this or that and i think their talking about personal friends only to listen a little further and their talking about football players like their personal friends or something. Give me an old Woods hermit any day to talk to over any Hollywood elite or Football player.I used to be friends with a hermit that lived in an actual Teepee behind Gene Ferris house at Leaming Mill back in the 80's,He kept a nest of Black Widows as pets where the polls joined.He was a Nam Vet and got a check from the government He said "for being crazy" He looked the part too.I used to hang out with him,(we met while i was swimming in January so right away he liked me,he did the same)Now there was an interesting character.Why didn't Hollywood ever make a film about Woodchuck?
     
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  7. Teegate

    Teegate Administrator
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    Heywood,


    I am just suggesting that you put spaces in your posts to make them easier to read as I have done below using your text.

    Guy


    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.
     
  8. Heywood

    Heywood New Member

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    I haven't tried uploading a file or more options. I could also just put a link to the file on my dropbox account but would rule that out for several reasons . If I upload in a file with serif font will it convert to the sans serif? It’s easy for me to do, but is there any way to get rid of that sans serif or just do what you suggest?

    I just tried three fonts so it looks like your suggestion is the only one, but I can also add the link so your readers can use pdf or doc or odt which is my home app and can be read by doc for windows.
     
  9. rc911

    rc911 Scout

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    Please, please post more. I can read your writings all day.
     
  10. bobpbx

    bobpbx Piney
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    Heywood, you can use cut and paste. Cut directly from your writings and paste directly in the post, and then add spaces while inside the post.
     
  11. Heywood

    Heywood New Member

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    Hi, I'm not too comfortable with this forum yet, but did a search for lower forge (washington) and discovered your pictures of the forge downstream of the furnace. Not too different from when I spent some time there about sixty years ago. You might be interested in what I noticed there besides a lady up on the bluff in a chair smoking a corncob pipe. heywood@mchsi.com When did you take those pics?
     
  12. bobpbx

    bobpbx Piney
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    Hey yo, we'd all be interested!
     
  13. ecampbell

    ecampbell Piney

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    They were taken 9-5-2008.
    How about some older pictures of your travels?
     
  14. Heywood

    Heywood New Member

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    Well, it wasn’t hardly worth mentioning here, where you folks expect intelligent exchanges. And I didn’t ask her what brand of tobacco she used, but I have to say that lady was the personification of Pansy Yokum. (I didn’t even see a car or how she got there.)

    Actually when going around in the Wharton tract I had noticed that it wasn’t exactly overflowing with residents, but back when the furnaces were operating, there were some places where people actually lived, and I’m not even sure what the signs were, but I could really tell that, yes! someone had lived in a place that appeared to be just like the surrounding forest.

    Lower forge was a really nice place on a warm summer’s evening and I would have liked to know more about that operation when it was the forge for Hampton furnace, but I LOOKED for traces of where the workers lived, and about a hundred yards below the remains of the bridge on the lower level ground were traces of where the workers lived, and the bridge was how they got to work.

    Now I’m not the smartest bear in the forest, but I have a grandson-in-law who was smart enough to marry my favorite (only) grand daughter. He’s a paleontologist, and after I got it straight just what they do, (?) I think that instead of figuring out how to run a tourist business, the state should hire a few of those guys to assess places like lower forge and the upstream furnace.

    Now do you see why I didn’t want to bother you with that kind of thinking?
     
  15. Heywood

    Heywood New Member

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    Back then, I wasn't taking pictures.