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The Newlee Iron Furnace - Cumberland Gap, Tennessee. - OU03AA

 Remains of an old Iron Furnace located in CGNHP and open to the public.

Hidden by  KnowsOpie

N 36° 36.070' W 83° 40.095' (WGS84)

 Coordinates in Other Systems
 Location: United States > Tennessee
 Cache Type: Virtual
 Size: No container
 Status: Archived
 Date Hidden: 12 February 2012
 Date Created: 12 February 2012
 Last Modified: 06 April 2016
 Waypoint: OU03AA

 


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Cache Attributes

Kid Friendly Wheelchair Access Historic Site 

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Comments by the OC Team


Data: 02/14/2012 02:23:52, add by DudleyGrunt
My 200th approved cache.

Description   EN   

Although all that remains is the lower portion of the original 1819 30-foot-high blast furnace, it is actually a very small part of what was originally an entire complex known as the Newlee Iron Furnace. The furnace itself required considerable investment and was located here not by chance by because of the resources mentioned by Dr. Thomas Walker in 1750. The furnace itself was built 25 to 30 feet high with a hearth or a crucible where the molten iron was collected, perhaps a foot or two deep and three or four feet wide. Just above the hearth the opening flared outward and was termed the "bosh." The bosh was about eight feet in diameter at its widest and narrowed as it converged toward the top. The outside of the furnace was built of sandstone with a liner of firebrick. Furnaces were usually built with an incline just behind to ease charging and loading. The trestle leading to the charging point was usually built of heavy planks with a track on it. Men, often slaves, would roll wheelbarrows of raw materials over this trestle and dump them into the top of the furnace.

To produce one ton of iron, the furnace required an exact recipe of 200 bushels of charcoal, 2 tons of iron ore, and 500 pounds of limestone, all of which would be lit and joined inside the furnace. A waterwheel-powered bellows kept the fires hot. It took 4 to 6 hours to produce molten iron, with a layer of slag floating on top. The slag would be drained off through the "cinder hole," and then the molten iron would be drained through the "tap hole" below.

The slag would be added to the slag heap still visible in front of the furnace today, but the molten iron would be allowed to run down a narrow crevice in the sand into a corresponding and larger trench in the sand to cool into pig iron. The daily product of the Newlee Iron Furnace was 3¼ tons, at a cost of $19.40 per ton in 1877 figures. The iron made at Cumberland Gap was shipped down Powell River to Chattanooga. This furnace was the only furnace in the Dyestone belt still using charcoal in 1877.

This structure was used during the nineteenth century as a charcoal blast furnace for smelting iron. Probably built between 1813 and 1835 by Martin Beaty, it was operated intermittently until about 1881, by a number of people including John G. Newlee for whom the foundry was named at the end of the century. The foundry and buildings were used for ammunition storage for a part of the Civil War. This foundry is considered one of the last examples of a cold-blast charcoal furnace. The furnace is located at the base of Cumberland Mountain, next to Gap Creek near Cumberland Gap, Tennessee, at an elevation of 1350 feet. In 1870, the foundry group consisted of the blast furnace itself, a 25' x 26', 35'-high limestone chimney lined with firebrick; a casting shed, a 15' x 20' single story frame building connected to the south; a 2 1/2-story, 30' x 45' storehouse to the north, with a 30' overshot water wheel to power the blast machinery; and a fleming mill detached from the complex nearby. Presently the site includes the 30' remains of the blast furnace, a grass-covered slag pile, a large stone with drill-holes for splitting it, and a portion of a flume, cut to channel Gap Creek around the foundry.

This structure was used during the nineteenth century as a charcoal blast furnace for smelting iron. Probably built between 1813 and 1835 by Martin Beaty, it was operated intermittently until about 1881, by a number of people including John G. Newlee for whom the foundry was named at the end of the century. The foundry and buildings were used for ammunition storage for a part of the Civil War. This foundry is considered one of the last examples of a cold-blast charcoal furnace.

The furnace is located at the base of Cumberland Mountain, next to Gap Creek near Cumberland Gap, Tennessee, at an elevation of 1350 feet. In 1870, the foundry group consisted of the blast furnace itself, a 25' x 26', 35'-high limestone chimney lined with firebrick; a casting shed, a 15' x 20' single story frame building connected to the south; a 2 1/2-story, 30' x 45' storehouse to the north, with a 30' overshot water wheel to power the blast machinery; and a fleming mill detached from the complex nearby. Presently the site includes the 30' remains of the blast furnace, a grass covered slag pile, a large stone with drill-holes for splitting it, and a portion of a flume cut to channel Gap Creek around the foundry.

From the National Park sign at the furnace

"From the early 1820s to the 1880s, an iron smelting business here took advantage of the rushing waters of Gap Creek. Today only the creek and part of the original 30-foot-high stone tower remain, a small part of an industrial complex of buildings, slag heaps, and machinery then called the Newlee Iron Frunace.

All the ingredients needed to make iron were nearby: iron-ore deposits close to the surface, limestone, abundant firewood to be made into charcoal for fuel, and waterpower to run the air bellows and a massive hammer mill. Some iron made here was sold to local blacksmiths. Some of the 150-pound ingots or 'pigs' were shipped down the Powell River to Chattanooga, Tennessee.

What It took every day to produce 3 tons of Iron was, 625 bushels of charcoal, 16.5 cords of wood (52 average size trees), 6 1/4 tons of Iron Ore, and 1,563 lbs Limestone.

A typical early-1800s ironworks needed a hammer mill and bellows next to the tower, as well as a way to continually dump charcoal and ore into the top of the chimney. For the Newlee Iron Furnace, the exact positions of these components are not known.

Frontier-era ironworks had an enormous appetite for firewood. During the 60 years iron was refined in this tower, more than 10 square miles of trees went up in smoke.

Enter as the pass word the source of the stream that powered the bellows and hammer at the mill. This can be found on one of the Park signs detailing the Newlee Iron Furnace. As always, photos of your find are welcome.

US National Parks

 This geocache is probably within a Nature Protection Area US National Parks:
Cumberland Gap NHP

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9 06 April 2016 KnowsOpie Cache archived

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3 17 February 2012 sandhill6061 Comment

I was there in Sept 2011, this is a great spot and the new boardwalk to the site should be done. Make it a two fer as Tri State Peak can accessed from the trail here.
Pictures Connected with this Log Entry:
Sandhill @ furnace
Sandhill @ furnace