Selected portions of :


Jay D. Allen
Thesis submitted to the Faculty of the Graduate School of the University of Maryland in partial fulfillment
of the requirements of the degree of Master of Arts   1970


Title of Thesis: The Mount Savage Iron Works, Mount Savage, Maryland:  
A Case Study in Pre-Civil War Industrial Development                 Thesis directed by: E. B. Smith, Professor of History

The community of Mount Savage was founded during or shortly after the Revolutionary War. It remained a small, rural farming community until 1838 when the Maryland and New York Iron and Coal Company began construction of the iron-producing facilities that would be among the largest in the country—the Mount Savage Iron Works. Again, the original capitalization of the concern was English though the corporate creation struck roots ten years deeper into the past in the Maryland Mining Company. The firm's plant eventually comprised one of the most impressive Industrial arrays in ante-bellum America. There were several thousand acres of land for mining operations; coal, iron ore, and fire clay. Three blast furnaces, among the largest in the country, comprised the smelting sector of the operation, though only two of them were ever in blast. The third "stack," larger than the 50-foot height and 15-foot "bosh" measurements of the two original furnaces, was begun in 1845, but never lined for use. The rolling mill and refinery boasted the best equipment of the day. Its facilities consisted of three trains of rolls, seventeen puddling furnaces, six reheating furnaces, and three special refineries for sheet iron production. The company had their own coking and brick-producing facilities. Its foundry was a fully equipped specimen of its contemporaries. The entire plant was powered by two very large steam engines. The firm's facilities also included a road constructed between Mount Savage and Cumberland. After it began rail production, the company built a rail line over the same nine-mile distance, though both the management and rolling stock were apparently the property of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. Nor was this all, for the over three hundred houses which the company constructed for its workers began the "real life" of the industrial community of Mount Savage.

Construction of the works began bravely enough, despite at least one contemporary warning, which cast some measure of doubt upon the quantity and reliability of Western Maryland's iron ore resources. The building at Mount Savage was evidently pushed ahead with amazing vigor. The operatives' living quarters were apparently of only slightly less concern than the actual productive facilities of the Works. Numerous pieces of correspondence between Robert Graham, superintendent of the George's Creek Works, and various agents for the company in Mount Savage attest to this. The principal concern was for lumber to construct dwelling houses in Mount Savage. As the George's Creek concern operated a sawmill in addition to its other interests, it could fulfill the larger firm's demands. Though the principal commerce between the two firms was in lumber, Graham's desire to "unload" surplus materials to the Mount Savage firm is evident. Subsequent correspondence does not indicate whether Mount Savage's superintendent purchased the candles and gunpowder, which Graham offered. The exchange between the two was not without its difficulties, however. Low water in Lonaconing prevented the George's Creek Company from making a delivery of lathes on schedule. On the other hand, the Mount Savage Works manifested some tendency to miss its assigned monthly payments; a characteristic which would eventually contribute to its undoing. However, the two firms' business was apparently of an even-handed nature, and beneficial to both. By 1845, Henry Thomas Weld, ( View the Weld Home) the agent in Mount Savage of the company's British backers could write to Graham in Lonaconing concerning characteristics and construction hints on various kinds of company housing in service at Mount Savage.

In addition to strictly local business impact and interchange, the operations and intentions of the Mount Savage firm came to occupy a clearly defined place on the national level as well; for the domestic production of iron rails was a warmly debated issue. As late as 1842, an editorial in the American Railroad Journal could state with complete truth that the United States had no firm capable of manufacturing heavy-edged rail. Nor did American business commentators unanimously favor the development of domestic rail production. Many factors impressed contemporaries as prohibitive. The sythe of growing rail demand cut with a double edge. The crucial problem of transportation in efficient iron production remained constant. The special demands of unusually heavy costs and highly skilled labor posed special obstacles for rail manufacturing. All these led some editorialists and ironmasters to conclude that the future of American railroad iron production lay exactly there—sometime in the future. The operations at Mount Savage began to attract wide public attention during the fall of 1842. An article in a British publication took note of the work's pioneering efforts in the use of coke in iron smelting. A number of articles in American trade publications also took extensive account of the developments in Mount Savage. Apparently the company was undertaking its operations with the clear intention of meeting the westward-advancing railroads of America. More fanciful projections of the Works' future envisioned the erection of as many as twelve blast furnaces. Indeed, one writer described the Mount Savage Works with breathtaking optimism:

The facilities here for manufacturing cheaply cannot be surpassed, if equaled—with the exception of the cost of labor—even in England. The furnaces are situated at the base of the hill, and so far below the entrance to the mines and ore beds, and limestone quarry, which require no effort to drain them, that the cars with these materials may be brought to the mouth of the furnaces by gravity; and the rolling mill is still lower than the furnaces, so that the "pigs" may be taken out in the same manner. The descent from these works to Cumberland is nearly 100 feet to the mile, so that a locomotive will take down more loaded cars than it can bring back empty ones.

When the first rails passed through the rolling mill at Mount Savage sometime during the summer of 1844, no immediate attention greeted them. Later in the fall, however, specimens of the works' products were exhibited at many cities throughout the eastern United States. The Works' initial production went to fulfill two immediate demands. First, the firm completed a nine-mile rail line to Cumberland to link with the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad's tracks, which had reached Cumberland two years before. Apparently their first contracted rails were for the lines of the Fall River Railroad Company of Massachusetts.11) The price of the 1,000 tons of rails, $59 per ton delivered in Fall River, was well within the company's claim "to deliver any quantity of bars 10% cheaper than they can be obtained from Europe under the present tariff. The chief commerce with the Baltimore and Ohio upon the immediate completion of the works' railroad to Cumberland was not in rails but rather in coal transportation. 7 Perhaps the most notable accolade accorded the works during their initial production of rails was from Philadelphia's prestigious Franklin Institute. Subsequently the beginnings of Eastern Pennsylvania's anthracite-fueled rail production facilities would remove the Institute's spotlight from coke-burning Mount Savage. However, a review of the fourteenth Exhibition of American Manufactures in December 1844, praised its product with enthusiasm:

No. 2705 a bar of edge railroad iron of the U form, rolled by the Mount Savage Iron Works, near Frostburg, Maryland, forwarded by Col. Young, the manager. This bar, 18-1/2 feet long, weighs 40 pounds to the yard lineal. . . . This bar is amongst the first edge rail yet rolled in the United States, and it demonstrates beyond the reach of cavil, that edge railroad iron can be well manufactured in America. This bar is well proportioned, sound, and well finished; it is the first ever exhibited here of American make; we hail it with pleasure as the beginning of a new manufacture, and award to it A Silver Medal.

The ensuing two years witnessed prosperity for the medallist works. Both rail production and coal mining enjoyed much success. Some accounts discussed the Mount Savage facility as the most heavily capitalized operation of its kind in America—a figure in the neighborhood of $1.5 million. The community of Mount Savage swelled to nearly 3,000 under the influence of the works' 500 employees and their families, while local observers anxiously noted the uncomfortable direction of Congress on the iron tariff. In March 1846, the board of directors elected J. M. Howell of Boston president to replace William Young, who had resigned. Except for a vague indication that his salary had been reduced, nothing remains to account for the departure of Mr. Young, who brought experience from several American ironworks as well as management and engineering experience from the Utica and Schenectady Railroad to the Mount Savage operation. Young's dissatisfaction becomes even more mysterious as the company's subsequent career indicated no break in its prosperity and success. Later the same month, the Mount Savage concern signed a contract to furnish one-half the rails to the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad necessary to relay the thirty miles of track between Baltimore and Harper's Ferry. The company's share of the contract amounted to between two and three thousand tons of rails, and seemed ?? hold the promise of greater things. However, the developing tariff policy of Congress was a most ominous sign indeed.

Whether or not the duty reduction on iron affected by the Walker Tariff manifested itself immediately at Mount Savage is not clear. Operations continued through the winter of 1846, though in December a Cumberland editor saw fit to squelch some current rumors concerning the closing of the works. However, by March 1847, some degree of financial difficulty began to manifest itself at the works. The problem lay in dissatisfaction of the workers with the company's payroll policy. The firm was unable to pay its men in full each payday. Though for a time the possibility of a strike seemed imminent, the operations continued while Benjamin Howell journeyed to England to negotiate a loan to pay off the wages due. A work stoppage occurred at the end of June, with wages again the issue, but operations quickly returned to normal. However, very rapidly the situation took an unexpected turn as a Cumberland editor regretfully stated, "that on Wednesday morning a new difficulty occurred (at the Mount Savage works) not connected with the subject of wages, which has again thrown matters into confusion".

Though the relationship of the wages problem to the confusion is by no means as clear as the editor would have it, there was no denying that the Mount Savage Works was in serious financial trouble. An 1847 contract for grapeshot with the government found the company with insufficient credit to secure iron. Among the several judgments standing against the company, the most crucial dealt with a series of defaulted notes. In June 1846, the board of directors negotiated a loan of $30,000, secured on six notes of $5,000 each. The board scheduled repayment of two notes per month on the fourth, fifth, and sixth month following June 24, 1846. The loan apparently failed to right the company's finances. In August 1847, the local press announced that on the seventh of October the Mount Savage Works would be sold at public auction. In this respect the experience of the firm differed little from that of the iron business nationally. In Eastern Pennsylvania between 1840 and 1850, 120 of the region's 364 iron-producing facilities "passed through the sheriff's hands" for public sale. Few firms, however, could boast the kind of high-level experience and expertise of the new group, which came into control of the Mount Savage Works.

Indeed, the company's new ownership and management represented outstanding figures in ante-bellum transportation and industrial development. The group had struck quite a bargain, as their purchase was a bit over $200,000, something less than one-fifth of the works' capitalized value. Erastus Corning, perhaps the most prominent of the purchasers, had enjoyed a long and prosperous career as a merchant and railroad man in New York State. Most notably, Corning had served as president of the Utica and Schenectady Railroad from 1823 to 1853 and was instrumental in the organization of the New York Central system in the mid-1850's. John Murray Forbes of Boston was Corning's close associate on the firm's new board of directors. The product of business experience in both Europe and the Orient, where he developed ties with Britain's powerful House of Baring, Forbes was most active in the promotion of railroads in America's opening trans-Allegheny West. He served as president of both the Michigan Central and the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroads. Apparently Forbes was somewhat dissatisfied with the new Western Maryland holdings, but his skill and experience were no less valuable than his vast business connections and acquaintances. Undoubtedly, the railroad interests of the Mount Savage Works' new ownership helped to assure the firm some measure of business. However, the mercantile activities of both Corning and Forbes in importing rails brought them into competition with themselves.

Contending against his partners' "divided interests" was the firm's new president, John Flack Winslow. Winslow brought a rich store of experience as an inventor, engineer, and ironmaster to Mount Savage. Previously he had been employed in various business houses in Albany, New York, an ironworks in New Jersey, and as the manager of the Albany Nail Works, one of Coming's firms. Winslow's efforts must have been of a high quality, for in 1837 Corning invited the still-young man into partnership. At Mount Savage, Winslow's aggressive and hard-headed approach brought the facilities into working condition, as he relentlessly sought a rail contract with the Baltimore and Ohio for their extension to the Ohio River.

Though Winslow's negotiations with the Baltimore and Ohio brought no results, preparation work at Mount Savage continued unabated through the last years in the 1840's. Immediately after the New York group's purchase of the Works, the name of the facility underwent a series of changes. The original chartering legislation for the new group of capitalists was carried out under the name of the Lulworth Iron Company. Their charter entitled the group to a capitalization of $500,000 with the power to increase the stock to $1,000,000—all at $100 per share. Also the company gained the right to survey for and lay railroad track with the understanding that their operations would interfere with the routes of neither the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad nor the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal. However, the legislature's subsequent enactment changed the firm's name to the Mount Savage Iron Company. Whatever its name, the firm maintained limited operations in its smelting, rolling, and brick-making facilities into the early 1850's. At the same time, the company brought in additional skilled labor and improved the transportation facilities by extending its rail lines in Cumberland into better juxtaposition with local warehouse and wharf facilities.

These measures placed the Mount Savage Works in a strong position to take advantage of the railroad construction boom of the middle 1850's. The works' particular engineering contribution to the campaign was a widely hailed development, the design and production of what contemporaries referred to as the "compound rail." The rail was an attempt to achieve the hope of all railroad travelers in history—one continuous rail. Winslow sought to achieve this by laying two longitudinally split rails together, secured with rivets and bolts, while advancing each successive "half rail" a distance of about one-half its length. The view looking down on one rail laid in the compound form would probably be something like this:

Though subsequent developments in both engineering and metallurgy made Winslow's development obsolete, contemporary opinion praised the compound rail highly. Both editorial and engineering authorities seemed to agree that the rail represented a solid technological advance that eased maintenance demands and made rail travel more comfortable. The use of the rail on no less than twelve roads in the northeast and midwest forecast a future of prosperity for the works. A Cumberland editor expressed the region's mood and hopes in this connection during the spring of 1851:

We are gratified to learn that the Blast furnaces at this important place [the Mount Savage Iron Works] are now in full operation, and that on Monday next the Rolling Mill will again go into operation for the manufacture of the celebrated Compound Rail that has already won so much reputation throughout the country. We trust that Mount Savage and the surrounding region will now experience a substantial change for the better and that prosperity will hereafter prevail in that interesting region of the country.

The decade of the 1850's was the period of the Mount Savage Works' greatest prosperity. Under Winslow's management, the firm's labor force grew to more than 900 hands, and the population of Mount Savage approached 5,000. Crucial to the continued success of the works was a contract secured at last from the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad for new rails. Another important customer for the works' rails was the Cumberland and Pennsylvania Railroad. This road, chartered in 1852 and based in Mount Savage, was an important industrial partner to the Ironworks. Under identical management, their operations were to work a decided impact upon the region's coal trade. The works were shut down in December 1857, but resumed operations of both the smelting and rolling operations in the spring to make rails and fulfill a government contract for cannonballs. Intermittent runs of rail contracts and shutdowns alternated through the remainder of the decade. The shutdowns must have been particularly severe, as they sent people from Mount Savage to seek other employment. This sort of existence was most expensive to an industrial enterprise in which continuous operations were the most economical and beneficial. The works carried on this intermittent schedule in a context of growing British competition and local worry about America's tariff policy.

Early in 1860, the Works began operation after a considerable period of inactivity. Apparently times had been hard in the region, and the reopening of the Mount Savage facilities was hailed with relief as a prominent force to aid in returning prosperity to Western Maryland. Later in the year the influence of John Murray Forbes helped to secure the services of a new plant manager for the facilities. Charles Russell Lowell, a nephew of the poet, had experienced a wide variety of industrial and railroad employment for his twenty-five years. Following graduation from Harvard, he had worked for Abraham Hewitt at his rolling mill in Trenton. Subsequently, he found employment with Forbes and spent several years in Burlington, Iowa, serving in the management of the Chicago, Burlington, and Quincy Railroad. Letters Lowell wrote during his brief residence in Mount Savage indicated that the works were again operating at far from their capacity. Apparently, Lowell yearned for a more involved sort of life, for after four months in Mount Savage he volunteered for service in the United States cavalry and found a distinguished career and a hero's death in the Civil War.

The Civil War years at Mount Savage are difficult to trace. The rolling mill was in operation in 1862, and a newspaper county business directory listed the Works in 1863. However, the most significant event in the company's history of the war years had little to do with the conflict. In 1864, the recently incorporated Consolidation Coal Company acquired title to the firm in Mount Savage. All the "Works" facilities, machinery, tenement accommodations, as well as the entire equipment and rolling stock of the Cumberland and Pennsylvania Railroad passed into the Consolidation Company's hands for the payment of 22,000 shares of capital stock.

After a period of idleness, which put several hundred out of work during the summer and fall of 1865, the Works began operations in January 1866. Later that same month, the Works acquired a new president. James T. Milholland had previously seen extensive service as an engineer and railroad engine builder with the Reading Railroad in Pennsylvania. His new position in Mount Savage placed him in charge of the operations of both the Ironworks and the facilities of the Cumberland and Pennsylvania Railroad. By the summer of 1866, Milholland apparently was directing the business of the two firms with aggressive gusto. The Cumberland and Pennsylvania began an extensive expansion of its machine shop facilities at Mount Savage. To meet a long-expressed need in the community, a four-story hotel with accommodations for 150 guests began to take shape. Nor did Milholland neglect the Ironworks' operations. In July 1866, he successfully negotiated with John W. Garrett, president of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, for the re-rolling of several thousand tons of rails.

Apparently operations in all sections of the Works continued on through the summer of 1867. The facilities of the Cumberland and Pennsylvania system continued to grow to the stage where locomotives and railroad cars were under construction during the summer of 1867. During the fall the rolling mill began production of rails for the replacement of the existing iron on the Cumberland and Pennsylvania tracks. In the spring of 1868 the Works completed a contract for both railroad iron and rolling stock for a firm in Kentucky, but in April the Mount Savage company announced the closing of its rolling mill facilities, the furnaces having been out of blast for some time.

Following the 1868 shutdown, the Works' parent company no longer found it profitable to operate the iron production facilities or the rolling mill at Mount Savage. However, the Consolidation Company did lease the facilities to at least two Pennsylvania-based firms for the production of pig iron only. The furnace was in blast at least once during the late winter and early spring of 1870. After prolonged inactivity, the rolling mill facilities were dismantled in 1875. Today all that remains of the once extensive facilities are the half-buried and crumbling remains of two blast furnaces, a few hundred yards from the successor to the Works' brick factory, the still-prosperous Union Manufacturing Company.

Numerous causes contributed to the eventual abandonment of iron and rail production at Mount Savage. The available data suggests a number of them operated over the entire span of the company's existence. From the beginning, transportation difficulties plagued its operations. Through the late 1840's and most of the 1850's, a tangled pattern of high labor costs in a highly competitive market, nationally and internationally, posed severe problems to the Works' management. The management was highly competent and almost too practical under tight conditions. Of necessity they made their decisions on the basis of practical considerations, and this helped bring the end of iron production at Mount Savage. In the final analysis, however, the shortcomings of the region's natural resources proved the most telling. Neither local iron ore nor coal had sufficient quality (nor the iron ore suitable quantity) to produce the best grade of iron or compete with improved production techniques elsewhere and the opening of the Lake Superior ore beds and Connellsville coke region of Pennsylvania.

We can do it, and shall do it. Let those who have already done so much to elevate American character, in improvement of American machinery, give their attention to the manufacture of railroad iron, as they have to other important subjects, and we shall ere long be able to supply the demand for railroad iron in this country from our own mines.

American Railroad Journal

March. 1843

In spite of temporary checks and adverse legislation, the Anglo-Saxon steadily widened the circle of his enterprises, until the sound of his hammers rung throughout the whole extent of the populated portion of the republic. . . .

John Leander Bishop

History of Manufactures in the United States

Is he [the editor of a local pro-tariff newspaper] still in favor of the low duty on Iron, which has almost destroyed the manufacture in Allegany County?

The Cumberland Civilian

March 17, 1848



During the nineteenth century, it is doubtful whether any national legislative issue concerning American industry and manufacturing was the subject of closer scrutiny or wider attention than the tariff. This is particularly true of the ante-bellum years, before land subsidies, direct financial aid from the federal government, or the peculiarly positive and benevolent American hybrid of "laissez-faire" economic policy became the cornerstones for the construction of industrial and transportation empires. Though the most common sort of opinionated division on the tariff question found industrial interests opposing agriculturally oriented groups, the situation of the Mount Savage Iron Works and the tariff on railroad iron represented a more curious alignment. The fierce opponents who confronted one another over the rail iron duty were none other than American ironmasters and rail producers on one hand, and American railroad men on the other, The issue seemed to be chiefly of an interIndustrial nature.

American travel on the "permanent way" until after the Civil War found the country moving upon rails that were usually of British fabrication. Indeed, the vital need, which the railroad could fill in speeding economic development, was recognized to the extent that a contemporary could observe with some truth that even the Mount Savage Works "owes its existence to the Baltimore and Ohio railway of imported iron." The commentator's remark encapsulated the situation quite well. An ante-bellum ironmaster, engaged in rail production or not, was part of a newly self-conscious and professional group of men whose operations on a large scale were complex, expensive, and exacting. They were trying to succeed. In "opposition" to these were the no less self-conscious or professional railroad men. At once vital to economic development and potentially of a most remunerative character, the railroads were in a much stronger position to vie for congressional favors than ironmasters. Seemingly, such items as passes and stock helped enhance the public value of railroads in the eyes of politicians dedicated to an economic philosophy in support of improvements beneficial to the people at large.

Indeed, it was fortunate that American tariff policy was so hard on ante-bellum rail producers. Had protection for them been at all effective, the cost of railroad construction would have soared far above the astronomical level it attained, thus discouraging further building and slowing or retarding economic development. This difficult and basically unfavorable situation posed serious problems to large-scale American ironmasters, particularly those engaged in rail production. Their perceptions and responses show them to have been a self-conscious and professional group in a frustrating position. The tariff and the somehow commensurate machinations of British rail manufacturing became industrial "bogey men." The situation in Mount Savage and Western Maryland was mirrored in various degrees at other rail producing towns in ante-bellum America. Though the perspective of history and economic analysis make it clear that often early ironmasters attributed far too much of their own bad situation to the tariff's influence, a social treatment of industry's impact must understand this rather than condemn it. In general it is very difficult to draw exact or precise parallels between tariff levels and industrial development. Clearly, their influences of diverse character were important, and it is very doubtful whether the structure of American tariff policy has either increased or inhibited the growth of any important American industry.

The ante-bellum relationship among American rail producers, American railroad builders, and British rail manufacturers presented a strange picture indeed. They were all attempting to develop a pattern for success in the relatively new arenas of heavy industry and transportation. Though their goals and expectations were more or less identical, their tactics, means, and perceptions of each other differed widely. British heavy industry was the most extensive in the world by the 1840's. Geographically concentrated, technologically mature, and financially secure, Britain's iron industry was everything that America's was not. The British did not really have to compete. During the antebellum years, they held all the industrial cards.

The ante-bellum American railroad builder was a prime customer for the English manufacturers in a number of respects. Perhaps most significant at first was the availability of capital and credit from across the Atlantic to finance railroad ventures. The Yankee railroad men were strange indeed when compared to their British cousins. Quite distinct from the English pattern of exact and precise design and construction that achieved the most measured and efficient use of steam power on a most rationalized and stable road, the American performance in ante-bellum railroading was an engineering circus. When compared to the English roads, those in America seemed to be literally thrown together. The premium was on speed in all respects. The financing was only a step or two behind the engineering of ante-bellum American railroads. Precursing in some sense the post-Civil War experience, the railroad men were worried principally by the initial costs of their operations. Maintenance was not a factor of particular worry, nor was long-term considerations a factor for serious attention. This set of business operating perimeters made the American railroad men liable to the use of less than the best materials. This was acutely irksome to their fellow countrymen who were attempting to supply their needs in this respect. Abraham Hewitt fulminated over the fact that "the vilest trash which could be dignified by the name iron went universally by the name of the American rail." American ironmasters were often prone to defend their more expensive production as therefore somehow better than the English. The case was often as groundless as it was vehement. Through it all, John Bull sat with equanimity, for he had his own explanation:

That rails made for the American market were inferior to all others is easily explained by the fact that they were often paid for in bonds of even greater inferiority in value. American railways, that is to say, many of them, have been constructed of a material, which the Japanese have adapted to even more purposes of utility than we have done, viz. paper. Portmanteaued and coat pocketed with paper, its surface variegated with various written characters of a promissory significance, the financial representatives of many American lines have performed in England feats little short of alchemy, for they have very, very often transmitted their paper into iron, and sometimes even into gold.

Though apparently the English rail producers shared some measure of the financial disability imparted to their American counterparts, their overwhelming technical and financial superiority remained. Conditions and developments in both America and Europe reinforced this. Since early railroad construction in America did not strike deeply into the West, American rail producers, whatever their location, were rendered vulnerable to English competition. The timely coincidence of the end of the boom in British railroad construction with the outbreak of the revolutions of 1848 and the resulting cessation of European internal improvements depressed the price of English rails. This made them even more attractive to American buyers. The status of American production facilities coupled with these developments could well give an American ironmaster cause for concern. Indeed, one observer perceived a well-developed scheme of events that seemed almost like a conspiracy. However, within the comprehensive pattern of shortcomings, which characterized ante-bellum iron manufacturing in America, a problem, which stood out for particular attention, was the price of American labor.

Contemporary sources and some subsequent observers defined the scarcity of labor, and its attendant high price as the principal reason behind the iron interests' cry for tariff protection. Other reasons the iron producers cited in their plea for higher tariffs were lower interest rates in England which permitted easier building and experimentation in industry, the British backlog of necessary experience and expertise, and the more immediate character of economic and political developments. Despite the fact that laborsaving techniques gained a quick and wide acceptance in American manufacturing as a whole, the Iron business seems to have been industry's "ugly duckling." Some doubted whether America would ever be able to attain a competitive position in iron production chiefly on the basis of the scarcity of American labor. Though the obvious course in this situation would be to pay lower wages, this was difficult for several reasons. An American might still find employment in another remunerative pursuit. Apparently nothing much would prohibit a puddler from leaving employment in the iron business to dig on a canal or even farm. But perhaps more significantly, the sort of degradation, which low wages imparted to labor, was something Americans were fond of foisting off upon the British. American contemporaries theorized that the starvation, nakedness, and lack of hope, which universally characterized British labor, should not find a counterpart in this country.

Whatever the complexities underlying its enactment, a tariff of some kind was the solution which ante-bellum Americans settled upon to help ease the difficulties of the iron industry and its rail producers. This, despite the facts that for the most part tariffs were not the answer to the problems of the ante-bellum iron industry and American rail manufacturers were not able to supply the article as cheaply as it could be imported—even with a duty. Strangely enough, America had a duty on imported railroad iron long before the erection of the first rail producing facilities at Mount Savage and Brady's Bend. This was the case until 1832 when legislation in effect exempted incorporated concerns from the duty by permitting a refund of the fees provided that the iron was laid in three years' time. Opposition to this "duty free" entry apparently grew through the late 1830's and early 1840's. This sentiment found legislative form in the Tariff of 1842 whose schedules imposed a duty of $25 per ton on railroad iron imported into the United States. Railroad interests, among many others, were quick to oppose the tariff. The significance for American railroad builders lay in the fact that American rail producers were now roughly competitive with their English rivals. A change, however, occurred with the Walker Tariff of 1846, which provided a 30% "ad valorem" rate for railroad iron. This would add a cost of 30% of the rails' market value. The provision proved vexing to American rail manufacturers because it was considerably lower than the earlier $25 a ton. In addition, the duty reduction of 1846 on rails was part of a much larger pattern of successive duty reductions on all forms of iron in tariff enactments from 1842 ?? 1862. However, the controversy in which the Mount Savage Works was most involved dealt with the shift from the rate of 1842 to the rate of 1846.

On the broadest scale, the Tariff of 1846 attempted to lend some further measure of stability to industry and commerce in America. Its enactment coincided with England's repeal of the Corn Laws, and her reorientation toward a more responsible international economic policy of free trade. Though the duty, which the Walker enactment placed on iron, may well have served to speed modernization in the American iron industry, the matter is by no means crystal clear. The provisions of the 1842 tariff had increased the number of iron and rail producers, and the change in policy aroused a long-lasting debate of considerable complexity.

Supporters of the Walker tariff could muster an impressive brace of arguments. The nature of the iron business, most particularly that involved in producing rails, was simply beyond the means of American manufacturing— financially and technologically. What tariff proponents defined as the "uncertainty" of the market, a possible reference to railroad construction policy, further mitigated against domestic rail production. In addition, the more or less favorable policy, which the Tariff of 1842 upheld, had promoted too great a rush into iron and rail production-Despite their obvious scarcity; facilities were established without sufficient planning. Their locations often did not account for the practical consideration of raw material availability and transportation. The whole affair lacked the requisite hardheaded responsibility and acumen, which was necessary for sound iron production.

As the importance of railroad iron imports increased during the railroad construction boom of the 1850's, the tariff position of American iron rail producers grew weaker. Many people came to believe that even the duty of the Walker tariff was imposing too severe a burden upon the growing American railroads. Groups who favored the admission of railroad iron duty-free had little sympathy for American producers, and argued that these companies simply could not meet the demands of domestic railroads. Yet the duty, which was to protect them, really did not do so, but served only to raise the price of rails and impose an unnecessary burden upon railroad men. While the same groups could favor raising duties upon common bar iron, their stand on railroad iron persisted. The construction of a railroad, besides constituting a decided improvement to economic development and transportation, created a consumption of iron that exceeded twice the tonnage devoted to rails. This could hardly provide comfort, satisfaction, or customers to a contemporary American rail producer. The importance of railroads to the United States was simply too great to permit the interests of domestic rail manufacturers Co stand in their way economically. Groups opposing American rail manufacturing found an enthusiastic ally in British rail producers. "Why," they pointedly inquired, "do you tax your railway companies by raising the prices [of rails] upon them, for the support of your trade?"

Sentiment and action favoring domestic iron production and rail manufacturing varied in both form and appeal. Contemporary arguments ranged from a measured assessment of a difficult set of circumstances; through essentially sound technical works whose analysis broke down completely when confronting the tariff problem and British competition, to cheerleading tracts whose content and delivery bordered on fiction. As the economic conditions surrounding rail imports began to change in the early 1850's, supporters of the iron interests outside their own community found it harder and harder to maintain a realistic position. Even some who had once advocated a tariff came to favor the free entry of rails. Within the iron producing ranks, the results of numerous conventions, meetings, and memorials indicated a substantial self-consciousness and self-interest. The arguments and rhetoric of these gatherings assumed a number of distinct postures. Future success of the country demanded that America have her own rail producing facilities. The spectre of continued dependence upon Great Britain, especially, was most galling. Many iron producers felt that the "ad valorem" duty was at least partially at fault; and doubly dangerous in that it could damage both American rail manufacturers and railroad builders. Brisk demand would raise rail prices, thus sending the duty skyward with the ad valorem system to injure companies importing rails. Conversely, sly British manipulation contrived to undercut American ironmasters by confusing prices and falsifying documents to make imported rails seem cheaper than they were. Some contended on this account that the tremendous impact of American export demand upon British rail production would so tax its capacity as to raise the price (and hence the duty in this case) to a point above that which rails could be produced in America. As usual, the high cost of labor formed another prominent part of the ironmasters' arguments, as did the somehow superior "character" of both American iron producers and production. The producers also continued to argue that American iron was of a quality superior to the imported British product.

The position of the Mount Savage Works on the national level of the controversy was most anomalous. There is no positive evidence that anyone from the Works was involved with a convention of Maryland ironmasters, which met in Baltimore during November 1849. Winslow was apparently a prime mover in organizing the Albany convention earlier in 1849. However, the "divided" character of Mount Savage's management and ownership may have contributed to the Works' lack of convention representation as well as its position on other issues relevant to the life of its industrial community. Erastus Corning was actively involved on both sides of the tariff issue. As a prominent stockholder in the Mount Savage Works and president of the New York Ironmasters' Association, he had no small interest in the maintenance of a duty on railroad iron. Yet, as a railroad man, he imported thousands of tons of railroad iron through the agency of his own concern, Erastus Corning and Company. The problem stood revealed in bold relief during January and February 1855, as congress debated the remission of duties on railroad iron for its importers. Winslow was in Washington arguing against the issue, while Corning employed a professional lobbyist to favor it! And in Allegany County, the problem was debated with warm interest indeed.

The tariff controversy in Western Maryland coalesced most sharply around the election of 1848. Editorial sparring began early in 1848 and continued intermittently through the first half of the year. The principal issue besides that of the tariff itself seemed to revolve around the price of labor and the understandable reluctance of labor to accept a cut in pay. The first overt political appeal for the tariff occurred in August. Clearly, the company felt, a vote for Cass was tantamount to bequeathing the county to industrial oblivion. Very shortly, the issue gained its most partisan expression. After discussing the distressing effects of the tariff policy upon a number of ironworks in Pennsylvania, the Whig editor in Cumberland truculently asserted that:

The same cause that stopped these works prevents the Mount Savage Iron Works in our own county from going into operation. The proprietors are men of great capital and mature experience, and yet the want of protection makes the works idle, and throws thousands of the laboring men of Allegany out of employment. CASS AND BUTLER, WE ARE FORCED TO SAY, ARE INFAVOR OF KEEPING THE LABORING MEN OF ALLEGANY OUT OF WORK AT THE ROLLING MILL AND FURNACE. CASS AND BUTLER WOULD SEE EVERY MAN, WOMAN AND CHILD, WHO DEPEND ON THE IRON WORKS AT MOUNT SAVAGE FOR SUBSISTENCE, PERISH OF STARVATION, SOONER THAN ELEVATE THE DUTIES ON IRON AND COAL!

The effect of such rhetoric cannot be measured precisely.

In this election, however, Mount Savage may have deserted the Democratic camp for perhaps the only time in its history. In 1848 the Frostburg election district, which included Mount Savage, returned a narrow majority of 15 for Taylor and Filmore.

After the election concern for the tariff slackened to only occasional references through the 1850's. Throughout the remainder of the ante-bellum years, coal began to assume a more prominent position than iron in the views of editors concerned with the region's economic prosperity. There persisted, however, a peculiar sensitivity against railroad men so unpatriotic as to import foreign rails when the Mount Savage Iron Works could turn them out in a "superior style." In 1859 Mount Savage, curiously enough, favored a free trader in an election for the state legislature. Perhaps the most interesting local commentary upon the tariff's influence occurred in 1852. John Flack Winslow, the works' president, was in England to negotiate the purchase of an order of foreign rails for a company in Indiana. What made the situation so unsettling was that a significant portion of the order was of the compound rail of Winslow's own design! A Cumberland editor sadly complained that:

The policy of our Government, in refusing protection to our own manufactures, has thus forced the President of one of the most splendid Rolling Mills in the country, to purchase rails in England, of a form, the patent for which is held exclusively by himself.—With sufficient protection these 5000 tons of Compound Rail might have been manufactured in a superior style at Mount Savage in this county. To what extent our farmers, merchants, mechanics and operatives generally, would be benefitted thereby, we leave the people of the county to calculate. . . .

You alight [from the train] among the smoking furnaces and forges and vast heaps of cinders at Mount Savage, near the foot of the mountain range of that name, a village of 4000 inhabitants, gathered from various nations, mostly employed in the iron works and the mines, and living in cottages.

William Cullen Bryant—1860

Fire in every horrible form: pits of flame waving in the wind; liquid metal flames writhing in tortuous streams through sand; wide cauldrons filled with boiling fire, over which bent ghostly wretches stirring the strange brew; and through all, crowds of half clad men looking like revengeful ghosts in the red light hurried, throwing masses of glittering fire. It was like a street in Hell.

Rebecca Harding Davis

"Life in the Iron Mills"

Atlantic Monthly—April 1861

Mount Savage is, in the best sense of the word, a prosperous town, whose people, socially and intellectually, are not surpassed by the people of any section of Maryland, and if we view the commercial side of Mt. Savage life, we find a perfect hive of activity.

Rev. Thomas F. Stanton

The History of the Church in Western Maryland



It is perhaps unfortunate that the foregoing editor did not himself proceed with the calculation of the Mount Savage Works' benefits to the region's "farmers, merchants, mechanics, and operatives generally. Most of the existing evidence about the impact of the Works on the people of the area comes from the press. While this is not altogether undesirable, a rigorous examination of industrial technology's impact upon a community and region must seek to go beyond the impressions of editorial commentators. The Works made its most decided impact on the very lives of many people, and this part of the investigation is at once the most rewarding and meaningful. The relatively isolated town of Mount Savage provides an opportunity for a microscopic study of technology's impact on ante-bellum America by industry's involvement with its immediate community. Also, both the nature of the problem and the relevant source material suggest other considerations. Beyond the facility's purely local effects upon Mount Savage, larger scale topics such as a region's perception of its potential for economic growth, as well as the growth's, nature and patterns become relevant.

Indeed, it was precisely this kind of interplay which industry seemed dedicated to fostering in its literature and propaganda. Iron and rail production were tremendous benefits to America's still primarily agricultural population. Or, so the iron industry liked to believe. Ironworkers had to be fed, and railroads brought farm goods to market. Both groups would profit. The post Civil War American Iron and Steel Association pointed this out clearly in alleging that "the best customer the American farmer has is the American iron worker, and some day he [the farmer, presumably] will recognize this fact. Both observers in ante-bellum Western Maryland, and subsequent commentators seem basically agreed upon a prominent element of self-conscious industrial potential and a pivotal role for the Mount Savage Works in regional economic prosperity. They accomplished this principally by reinforcing crucial transportation and economic links with the East through local transportation development and their Baltimore commercial connections. Despite an allegation by the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad that the character of the demand for coal and iron made resource development in Allegany County a "precarious undertaking," local observers held an understandably contrary opinion. In 1846 a Cumberland editor undertook to calculate the benefits the people had derived from the Works. Mount Savage's 9,000 ton annual iron production capacity yielded approximately $45,000 when marketed at the rather low figure of $50 per ton. Deducting about $4,500 for ore and fuel costs, a substantial figure remained. Without citing the evidence for his claims and clearly ignoring some important cost factors, the editor continues his paeon:

Thus we see a single rolling mill pays to the laboring men of Allegany, the Amount of forty thousand dollars per annum, for their services in the various processes of manufacturing railroad iron. ... As multiplied as are the ramifications of society, so must be the modes in which the laborer expends the wages of his labor. Thus, all are benefited, and for the most part, to a similar extent.

Perhaps the largest scale impact which the Mount Savage facility helped work upon Western Maryland dealt, not unexpectedly, with transportation. In 1847, the commissioners of Allegany County examined the feasibility of altering the county's road system. The course of the road running from Mount Savage to the National Pike was to be altered so as to pass through the Ironworks and reach the Pike at a different point. Whether or not the change was ever affected cannot be determined. The Mount Savage Works' presence may also have caused the George's Creek company in Lonaconing some trepidation as a competitor for transportation access. Constantly saddled by poor transportation facilities, the Lonaconing firm petitioned the Maryland Legislature for strong consideration of their needs when that body undertook studying an extension of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal beyond Cumberland. The memorialists argued that the water shipped by Will's Creek offered far better opportunity for canal engineering than a course along Jennings' Run which would lead to the Mount Savage Works. Coincidentally, the Will's Creek course would tap the southern portion of the George's Creek basin at Westernport, Maryland; a decided benefit for the George's Creek company.

However, it was in connection with the development of rail transportation allied to the region's coal trade that the Works promoted their principal effects upon Western Maryland. The nine miles of track that the firm laid down between Mount Savage and Cumberland were only a beginning for both passenger service and coal hauling. After the chartering of the Cumberland and Pennsylvania Railroad in 1850, the Works was in a better position to be active and instrumental in the development of the region's rail transportation, but apparently the Ironworks did not obtain a controlling interest in the railroad until 1853. The two firms carried this out in a number of different ways. They undertook construction of additional spur lines to open coal deposits to mining operations. The two were also active in promoting the interests of railroads in the surrounding regions. These were apparently undertaken with the idea of tapping the Western Maryland coal trade. Finally, hoping to promote and gain advantage from the coal trade, they prosecuted an ambitious building program to extend the lines of the Cumberland and Pennsylvania from Mount Savage to Frost-burg and on into the northern end of the George's Creek basin. Particularly, the Cumberland and Pennsylvania formed a vital link in the excellent transportation system that permitted the rapid growth of the Western Maryland coal trade.

During 1857 two key episodes in the Ironworks' involvement in regional transportation occurred, and reaction to them prominently highlighted the decided effect of the Mount Savage company upon the region's economy. In April 1857, a tunnel pierced the ridge of a foothill of Big Savage Mountain to bring the rails of the Cumberland and Pennsylvania under the town of Frostburg. The line reached Frostburg as early as 1852, greatly improving coal hauling in the county. A number of proposals for tunnels and routes around the town were discussed at that time. A report of the opening of the tunnel in 1857 illustrated perfectly the brand of economic expansion observers hoped the region would enjoy as a result of this engineering achievement and transportation improvement:

In this connection we might remark that a large force of laborers are pouring into that neighborhood [Frostburg]. They all find ready employment at high wages, and we discover no diminuation either as to the demand for hands, or in the rate of pay. An immense amount of work is to be done at the new mines about to be opened up and on the line of the extension of the Cumberland and Penna. Railroad. . . . This road is of great importance. It penetrates a region hitherto locked up for want of an outlet It is rich in mineral resources, and their development will be hastened by the early completion of this road.

Work on the line must have been pushed ahead as vigorously as the summer's editorials, for by December the lines of the Cumberland and Pennsylvania stretched south through the George's Creek Valley to Lonaconing. Again, contemporary observers linked the advancement of the rails to their hopes for a boost of the region's prosperity. The role of the Ironworks was clear:

This road [the Cumberland and Pennsylvania], though operating under a separate and distinct charter, belongs to the Mount Savage Iron Works, and the work upon the extension involving a very heavy expenditure of means has been carried on without interruption all through the severe money pressure with which the country has been so greviously afflicted; and this has been done, too, at the same time the company was carrying on heavy operations at its Iron Works at Mount Savage. . . . The completion of this road will mark a new era in the coal region, and impart a new and invigorating impetus to mining operations at the threshold of the coming season.

However, enhanced rail transportation also brought less materialistic benefits to the region. The Cumberland and Pennsylvania was lauded for such contributions as special efforts in transporting people when Saint Michael's Church was dedicated in Frostburg during the summer of 1870. For a revival meeting held near Lonaconing, the railroad put five special daily trains into service to insure adequate access to the services.

Still, coal sounded the dominant note in transportation's association with the region, and the Cumberland and Pennsylvania's link to coal's success was widely recognized. With the addition of railroads to the developing mining complex in Western Maryland, the question of coal transportation costs attained a measure of importance, even during the antebellum years. Undoubtedly, the fact that the Cumberland and Pennsylvania Railroad was the property of the Mount Savage Iron Works and had no direct interest in concerns exclusively engaged in the coal business made mine managers uncomfortable. More concretely, there was a gradually increasing concern over the level of coal shipping rates, as editors pointed out the rising cost of mining operations even though wages paid to miners remained stationary. The burden of transportation costs, said the editors and mine managers, was causing the rise in the cost of mining coal.

The connection between Mount Savage's production of iron and further progress in the region's coal mining was not nearly as crucial for the region as the firm's transportation undertakings. Though some contemporaries insisted that the Works' 150-ton-per-day coal consumption was the factor that held the fate of the region's coal mining, it simply was not so. Coal served the Mount Savage Works for a far shorter time and to a far less degree than the county's railroad system served coal.

In the community of Mount Savage, perhaps the greatest impact of the Ironworks was the tremendous growth and change of the town's population. The opening of the Ironworks demanded a labor force far larger than the small Catholic farming community could muster. The original English management of the concern met this problem by importing laborers from England, Wales, and Ireland. Apparently the more skilled workers such as puddlers, rollers, or machinists were primarily from England and Wales. Most of the Irishmen were evidently classed as laborers. Though the building of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad brought a significant number of people to Allegany County in 1842, the Mount Savage Works also contributed substantially to an even greater portion of the county's population increase. Between 1840 and 1850 the population of Allegany County rose from 15,690 to 22,769, and the presence of "outside" stock was striking: 3,273 of the county's residents were born outside Maryland and 5,095 were not native Americans. The increase of more than 7,000 people was three times that experienced by any other county in Maryland except Baltimore city and county. An informal count in Mount Savage during 1847 turned up some 4,000 residents, and the Ironworks was clearly the dominant factor. At least 2,500 people resided in housing that belonged to the Mount Savage Works. Many of them could claim a record of past residences that bordered on the cosmopolitan. In 1860 Samuel Danks was the Works' superintendent. He and his wife were natives of England. Their first son was born in Scotland, and the first daughter in New Jersey. Their five later children were native Marylanders. The superintendent's singular fecundity was apparently a characteristic of the employees as well. In 1847 the company-owned houses contained 800 children under the age of 10 years, and the births were averaging 1-1/2 per day. "That will do," wrote one editor.

The company housing for the employees was another very concrete example of industrial technology's impact upon Mount Savage. Contemporary observers count Mr. Brant's "cottages" as between 200 and 320, though most estimates clustered around the lower figure. Apparently, the company's original construction program included at least two distinct types of dwellings. For its miners, the company generally provided dwellings of a log construction. They contained one room with a garret above, and cost about $70 or $80 to build. The better sort of houses which the company built for its employees were much more satisfactory and comfortable. Each side of the double block design had a two or three room basement of stone construction. The upper two floors on each side contained a kitchen, hall, and two rooms downstairs, and two rooms upstairs with a garret above. Today eleven examples of this "better housing" still stand in Mount Savage along one side of the valley that held the Ironworks. These presently occupied homes, which are in excellent repair, were an enduring contribution to the community. Also, a number of the larger homes in present-day Mount Savage owe their origins to the residence requirements of the early industries' owners and management.

Within the dwellings, the particular pattern of residence is by no means clear. Ideally, perhaps, one family would occupy each half of one of the houses and this was the case in some instances. However, the overwhelmingly male and bachelor character of the Irishmen, coupled with the large numbers of families in general, pressed for other arrangements. Apparently as many as twenty single men often occupied a single dwelling, though the census records do not indicate whether this was in one side of the house or both. Two and three families also occupied a single dwelling in Mount Savage. Obviously large numbers of people living in a limited number of houses dictated the inevitable combinations. One and two families often shared a dwelling with various numbers of single men.

Within the community of Mount Savage, the relations between the company's labor and management were understandably pivotal to the town's economic life. During the ante-bellum years, the general position of labor was in a decline. Despite the general industrial prosperity and expansion, the laborer was losing ground. His limited gains did not nearly match those of industry. Among labor's responses to this—land reform, political activism, production cooperatives, unionization, and strikes—the workers at Mount Savage apparently preferred strikes.

Labor and management relations at Mount Savage were novel in a number of respects. A very close and perhaps personal relationship between laborer and supervisor was the pattern at smaller ironworks, but the very magnitude of the Mount Savage Company signaled the beginnings of a new era in industrial and labor relations history. The size and scope of the operation advanced it beyond the intimate and total control, which a manager had once been able to exercise.

Predictably, wage rates formed the nub of labor-management problems at Mount Savage. Led by the puddlers, at once the traditional "aristocrats" of iron production and a group chronically troublesome to early management, labor troubles blossomed at Mount Savage on at least two occasions. The chief issue was apparently the maintenance of the customary wage level rather than an advancement. This was a clear response to Winslow's general policy of

cutting pay levels to meet rising production costs. A contemporary observer captured the stubborn and uncompromising spirit of the laborers of Mount Savage very well in 1849 in this management-biased description of their behavior:

These men [the workers at Mount Savage] are so banded together amongst themselves, and with the workmen at other establishments, that they will remain idle, or work at other business for 1/2 what the Company could afford to pay them, rather than abate one cent from their wages. Puddlers, for instance, who formerly received from $3 to $5 per ton, could now earn $2 50 per ton, but prefer to work in the mines, or on the canal, for one half the amount, it Is astonishing how successful they are in embuing all other workmen with the same obstinacy about coming to terms. In no other business do we find men preferring idleness, or scanty employment, to a remunerative compensation at their legitimate occupation, simple because they have been accustomed to receive more. ... It is to be hoped that ere long, a peace in Europe, an alteration in the tariff, or a return to reason on the part of the workmen, will bring the superior article made at Mount Savage into general use on our Railroads.

The welter of non-American groups that found their way to Western Maryland during the 1840's and 1850's did not have an especially easy life. A lack of cooperation between groups as well as a measure of native prejudice were retarding influences. However, because of the influence of the Catholic Church, Mount Savage appears to have achieved a considerable degree of harmony. The substantially Irish immigration apparently integrated itself into the already Catholic community with little evident friction. Still, problems of another character remained. Mount Savage's original church, Saint Ignatius', was constructed in 1825, near the initial center of the community. The erection of the Ironworks some distance away necessitated a substantial migration for services. During the early 1840's, the Mount Savage parish was serviced as a mission by priests from Cumberland in spite of the fact that the company town's congregation outnumbered that of their "parent" parish. By the early 1850's the bulk of the congregation lived in the immediate vicinity of the Ironworks. The tremendous crush of parishioners must have made mass at tiny Saint Ignatius' a crowded affair indeed. In 1856, substantial discontent with the situation was current in the congregation. Apparently, the company resolved a serious set of problems when its management donated one-half an acre of ground closer to the Works as a site for the construction of a new church building. Excavation for the new church began in 1862. In 1865, Saint Patrick's, a massive English gothic structure of stone, was formally dedicated, and still serves the Mount Savage community. Industry helped provide the means to make the change, which its presence demanded; and a new name for the parish reflected its Celtic shading.

Indeed, the Irish of the Ironworks accounted for other significant alterations in the life of Mount Savage. The coming of a substantially new kind of population necessitated the evolution and expansion of a community's facilities for recreation. In Mount Savage, entrepreneurial initiative apparently was quick to confront the historic association of the Irish with alcoholic consumption. Though neither the Ironworks nor Irishmen were directly in evidence, some concern for the proliferation of saloons in Mount Savage gained expression on July 29, 1853, in a Cumberland newspaper. The editor's concern obtained at least one sympathetic ear in Mount Savage, for the next edition carried the following letter, fully bristled with additional information and at least a potential reformer's zeal:

In your last paper you say there are 27 grog shops at this place [Mount Savage], and that at but two, man and horse can be accommodated. It is, alas, truer than you stated it. As far as can be counted there are 32, and only two afford accommodations for man and beast, other than bald-face whiskey, beer, and pipe smoke. If all these places pay licenses, where are the accommodations their licenses call for? In one of the licenses of a regular tavern keeper, I find the following: "ordinary keepers are directed within two months after the date of their license to provide 6 feather beds, covering, etc., and stabling and providing for 10 horses at least." Now I would like to know if the officers of the law are aware of these facts? And if they are, why do not they perform their duty?

Whether or not drinking was ever a problem among the workers at Mount Savage is uncertain. In Lonaconing, however, employee intoxication was one of the management's major problems.

Of a potentially far more serious nature was the problem of industrial accidents. Here the impact upon individual families is as unquestionable as it is tragic. There were at least two fatal accidents concerned directly with the Ironworks' operations during the early 1850's when the Works were coming back into full operation. Either the Mount Savage system of safety precautions was noteworthy in the ante-bellum years, or the newspapers considered accidents unworthy of notice. When the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad opened its own rolling mill facilities in Cumberland after the Civil War, the record of killings and disabling occurrences was gruesome. Industrial fatalities did not necessarily have to be attributable to revolving rolls or a ruptured boiler, however. Following the shutdown of the works during the summer of 1847, a miner named Thomas left his wife and two children in Mount Savage and went to find work elsewhere. Mrs. Thomas and the children had not been seen for several days when an infant's wails in the Thomas house attracted neighbors. Breaking in the door, they confronted a scene of both tragedy and horror. Mrs. Thomas had died several days previously, leaving her children unattended and starving; one of them attempting to suckle a breast of the mother's partially decomposed body.

In a far more positive and beneficial sense, the Ironworks in Mount Savage aided in setting the community apart from much of the rest of Allegany County with respect to the acquisition of industrial trades and skills. While the coal trade brought general prosperity to the region through the nineteenth century, it was not the sort of activity, which developed skill and expertise for things besides mining. In Mount Savage the situation offered far wider opportunities. The extensive industrial complex that included the ironworks, rolling mill, foundry, and brick-making operations gained a valuable addition, and eventual substitute, when the Cumberland and Pennsylvania Railroad began the expansion of its railroad construction and repair facilities. All these contributed to the development of an extensive apprenticeship system, which promoted an entire range of industrial skills in the town's population. This was a phenomenon not without precedent in the history of industrial development.

While the company's presence in the region provided employment to large numbers of workers, its economic benefit could and did assume other forms. As an institution, the works contributed materially to charitable causes such as the County Alms House in Cumberland. Since the Works' management drew very good salaries, the industrial plant in Mount Savage provided a limited number of individuals with substantial economic means. At least one high level manager engaged in direct philanthropy, and was properly rewarded by the press:

Generous Conduct—John A. Graham, Esq., President of the Mount Savage Iron Works has always hitherto been very liberal in his donations to the poor of this city— giving large amounts of wood and coal to relieve their wants during the inclemency of the weather. He now has very generously contributed 50 tons of coal for the same purpose.

When innovative and progressive benefits of any kind come to society, their effects are seldom of a wholly beneficial nature. This is particularly true in their early phases of interaction. Industrial development in ante-bellum America illustrated this process very well indeed. The interaction was both necessary and obnoxious. The position of heavy industry in pre-Civil War America was at once vital and peripheral; vital in that it established a base for subsequent industrial development, and peripheral in that it existed in a society, which was still primarily agricultural. Yet, industry in this period was far from impotent. It made significant contributions of an enduring nature. The history of the Mount Savage Iron Works, and its community, illustrated this pattern admirably. The facility made a substantial impact upon its immediate surroundings while its significance in a national pattern of industry remained marginal at best. Though plagued by difficulties related to tariffs, transportation, and natural resources, the Works contributed prominently to the development of a railroad system that helped make Western Maryland a major coal producing area.

The company's impact on the life of the people of Mount Savage had its unhappy moments, but the favorable results were more numerous and they endured. Though work stoppages and accidents occasionally brought deprivation and sadness, the company's payroll enriched the community immeasurably. Under the company's influence, Mount Savage also received a great increase to its population, its housing, and its public facilities. Its industrial plant spawned a variety of firms in Mount Savage whose training provided the population with a range of manufacturing skills far wider than the region's normal activities of farming or mining. The brick-making industry of present day Mount Savage struck its roots with the opening of the Ironworks. Saint Patrick's Church still serves the Mount Savage community—a physical and spiritual monument to the presence of industry in a corner of ante-bellum America.