FURNACE CONSTRUCTION AND OPERATION
The furnaces were of the "steam, hot-blast coke" type, constructed entirely of stone and rectangular in shape. The inside of the original furnaces were lined with fire-brick which was imported from England. The two older furnaces were built in one unit with the entire construction reinforced by 1 1/4 stayrods on the ends which were bolted circular discs 18" in diameter and weighing about 50 lbs each. The ruggedness of construction can be seen from pictures which were taken nearly 100 years later. The back of the unit was built against a hill. This was the customary method during that period since it facilitated charging the furnace. The furnaces were generally located at some distance from the supply, the ore being transported in the familiar dump-cart. A wooden runway was built from the hill to the top of the stack and the ore hauled across and dumped. No. 3 furnace was different from the others in that it was built in the open and was intended for derrick charging.
In shape and size, the three were nearly alike. The blast furnace proper was square in shape and built in the form of a stack which tapered toward the top.
The furnaces were 50 feet high and 15 feet wide at the bosh. Material covering the exact size of the older group cannot be found but from the area covered by the ruins it was approximately 50 ft. by 100 ft. in area and the boiler stack some distance higher than the furnaces. At the front was a brick-lined, cavern shaped room, about 20 ft. high, the same width and 30 or 40 feet deep. This was the combined engine and boiler room. On either side were located the openings to the furnaces and adjoining rooms. Similar openings occurred on the outside. Through these archways were drawn the iron and slag. Running along side of this room was a 30 inch iron pipe which led into the furnaces and supplied the hot steam blast. Directly above this room was the stack supplying the boiler draft. In between the furnaces, were several smaller pits to enable access to all sides of the furnaces. None of these rooms were over 10 feet in diameter.
Operation of Stationary Steam Engine
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This information is an excerpt from a thesis written by an unknown author but kept in the Mt. Savage Historical files. The author lists a bibliography which gives credit for his information.
COKE OVENS 1849
Coke was made from coal mined within three miles of the furnaces. A long battery of ovens was located on an artificial bench dug out of the hill on a level with the top of the two furnaces. This bench was known even in 1949 as the "coke yard" & the remains of a railroad track bed leading from there to some old mines west of Mt. Savage could still be traced in 1949.
Coke ovens were also located on a flat between the C&P "Bridge Shop" & the foot of Mac's Hill just east of No. 2 brickyard. In addition to the use of mortar, the masonry of the furnaces was tied together by heavy square iron rods, forged round on the ends & threaded.
Most of the rolling mill machinery was cast at the blast furnaces. Men working in the rolling mill said that the main engine had a cylinder with a 20-inch bore and 40-inch stroke.
Two dams were built across Allegany Creek to provide a sufficient water supply. Jennings Run was too heavily charged with sulfur from nearby mines to be suitable as a water source. Jennings Run comes from the valley from Frostburg while the two branches of Allegany Creek come from Big Savage Mountain to join Jennings Run past where the furnaces were located.
The first brickyard was located 300 yards or more up the hill from the blast furnaces. Fire clay was first hauled in heavy wagons from near the top of Big Savage. Later, when Yard 2 was built back of the C&P depot at the foot of Mac's Hill, the fire clay and coal were trans-ported by means of a wire rope gravity incline from Big Savage to the foot of the mountain, & thence by a gravity tramway in wooden mine cars to the brick yard.
After the 1847 shutdown & sale of the rolling mill & blast furnaces, there was desultory operation until after the Civil War. In 1866 the iron industry at Mt. Savage closed permanently.
(From an article in the Cumberland Times written by Bill Hunt and according to the recollections of Patrick O'Connor)