The ore mined from Penciler Hundred was later processed in a bloomery forge followed by a blast furnace as the technology advanced. A bloomery forge existed along the Christina River. A substantial blast furnace was opened at Principio near the Chesapeake Bay outside of North East, Maryland. The Principio furnace had ready access to oyster shells, which acted as a flux to carry off impurities. The advance in technology eliminated the need to alternate heating with hammering to pound out impurities, making this a more efficient method of production.
4 The Final
The final product was known as "Pig Iron". This iron was heated and then formed by hammering, rolling or casting into items such as weapons, pots, nails, etc.
Why did mining happen here?
The Great Northern War (1700-1721) between Sweden and Russia created a critical need for iron ore throughout Europe. England, a major importer of highly regarded Swedish iron was forced to look at its American colonies for its iron needs. As iron exports from Sweden slowed, the beginning of the English colonial iron industry can be traced to the creation of iron works on the Rappahannock River in Virginia in 1713.
Iron quickly became a principal component of the early colonial economy.
The iron industry was the basis for the wealth of the nation's early leadership and the foundation of the new United States. George Washington's family involvement in local iron mining provided some of the wealth to pursue other significant and profitable ventures.
In Pencader Hundred, iron ore was first extracted from open pits on Iron Hill by Sir William Keith, Lt. Governor of Pennsylvania's Three Lower Counties (Delaware) starting in the early 1700s. Pencader Hundred was principally the home of mining operations. Mostly of the ore taken from the pits of Iron Hill and Chestnut Hill was transferred to operations out of the area for refining into iron. Most of the refined iron was shipped for export from the nearby Chesapeake Bay. Beginning with small batch operations the iron industry evolved into larger continuous processes involving natural energy sources and then to man-made steam. As technology advanced, a unique process combining flux and charcoal provided a better quality of iron.
In 1723 John England arrived in America and began operating the Principio Furnace in Cecil County, MD. The Principio venture was a very successful operation due in part to a corporate structure resembling one of a modern-day company. Among its board of directors were members of George Washington's family.
Also in 1723, Samuel James and investors built Abingdon Furnace near Chestnut Hill. James received financial support from some of the leading iron masters in Pennsylvania. Lack of an economical supply of flux caused the operation to fail and the works were sold at sheriff's sale in 1735. Others continued to mine ore from Iron Hill and later Chestnut Hill but, by the turn of the 20th century, the last of the proprietors William McConaughey ceased operations.
|Placed By||Pencader Heritage Area Association|
|Marker Condition||No reports yet|
|Date Added||Saturday, September 28th, 2019 at 5:01am PDT -07:00|
|UTM (WGS84 Datum)||18S E 437598 N 4384469|
|Decimal Degrees||39.60770000, -75.72690000|
|Degrees and Decimal Minutes||N 39° 36.462', W 75° 43.614'|
|Degrees, Minutes and Seconds||39° 36' 27.72" N, 75° 43' 36.84" W|
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|Closest Postal Address||At or near , ,|
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