Rockbridge County: technological history

20 Jul 1998

It's obvious (once you think about it) that any territory has a technological history, that its landscape is a palimpsest of past and present activities, structures, enterprises, transformations. Arraying landscapes of the past and studying the processes of their development into the visible landscape of the present should interest lots of people, including local history buffs, schoolteachers, archivists, professors in various disciplines, and probably local officals as well. The web offers a medium for display and delivery, and projects undertaken by local individuals and groups can be linked into the broader patterns of regions and states --all that's needed is for somebody to start, with the provision of such basic tools as maps, images and descriptive data.

Rockbridge County: well, there's the McCormick Reaper, there's the canals on the Maury and James Rivers, there's a history of electrification, there's railroads, there's industries that have flourished and failed, there's mining and logging, there's road building... and that's just a beginning.

From One hundred historic sites and structures in Rockbridge County (a 1979 map, Leyburn-Spec Coll-Rare F232.R68 O74):

Vaughan called my attention to this book:
 AUTHOR       Dew, Charles B.
 TITLE        Bond of iron : master and slave at Buffalo Forge / Charles B.
 PUBLISHER    New York : W.W. Norton, 1994.
 SUBJECT      Buffalo Forge (Va.) -- History.
              Weaver, William, 1780-1863.
              Slave labor -- Virginia -- Lexington Region.
              Slaves -- Virginia -- Lexington Region -- Social conditions.
 Leyburn Library        F234.B89 D48 1994
This source has very extensive descriptions of the operations and management of Buffalo Forge and attendant blast furnaces. I've made some extracts to summarize the technical details of making iron. See also Slavery in Ante-Bellum Southern Industries on mining and metal industries and another section on railroads and canals, both by Dew. Compare also Vestal's Bloomery (Jefferson County, West Virginia), which describes an earlier operation of William Mayberry.

And there's more on iron in general on other pages.

21 July
When I asked Ed Spencer who had done economic geology of Rockbridge County, he said "Matthew Fontaine Maury"... Here are a few items for further study (though I haven't been able to find what I think Ed was referring to):

 AUTHOR       Hotchkiss, Jedediah, 1828-1899.
 TITLE        A description of the Elizabeth Furnace Iron Property, Augusta
                County, Virginia, belonging to Forrer & Forrers, with 
                maps and geological section, by Jed Hotchkiss ... and a 
                report by M.F. Maury ..
 PUBLISHER    Washington, D.C., McGill & Witherow, Printers, 1869.
 DESCRIPT     28 p. front. (fold. map) 23 cm.
 SUBJECT      Iron ores -- Virginia -- Augusta County.
              Geology -- Virginia -- Augusta County.
 ADD AUTHOR   Maury, Matthew Fontaine, 1806-1873.
 Leyburn-Spec Coll-Rare TN403.Z6 E4

 AUTHOR       Maury, Matthew Fontaine, 1806-1873.
 TITLE        Physical survey of Virginia : Her resources, climate and
                production / Preliminary report.  No. II. By M. F. Maury. 
                With notes and additions by his son. July 1, 1877.
 PUBLISHER    Richmond : N. V. Randolph, 1878.
 DESCRIPT     142 p., 1 l. : col. fold. front. ; 24 cm.
 NOTE         "Published by direction of the Board of Immigration [of
              "Note" at end signed: Richard L. Maury.
              With: Physical survey of Virginia. Her geographical... / M. F.
                Maury. New York : D. Van Nostrand, 1869.
 SUBJECT      Virginia -- Description and travel.
 Leyburn-Franklin Soc.  F231 .M451

 AUTHOR       Campbell, J. L. (John Lyle), 1818-1886.
 TITLE        Report on the Buena Vista farm and mineral lands and the 
                Amherst furnace property / by J.L. and H.D. Campbell. 
                Nov., 1885.
 PUBLISHER    Lynchville, Va. : J.P. Bell, 1885.
 DESCRIPT     16 p. : fold. map, tables, diagr. ; 23 cm.
 NOTE         Caption title: A report on the farm, the mineral lands, and the
                Amherst furnace property, all belonging to the estate of the
                late Samuel F. Jordan.
 SUBJECT      Geology -- Virginia -- Rockbridge County -- Surveys.
              Mines and mineral resources -- Virginia -- Buena Vista.
              Mines and mineral resources -- Virginia -- Amherst County.
 Leyburn-Archives       FACULTY PUBLICATIONS 

Another source for canal and other stuff:

 AUTHOR       Virginia Canals and Navigations Society.
 TITLE        The Maury River atlas : nineteenth-century inland navigations of
                the Virginias / a Virginia Canals & Navigations Society river
                atlas project.
 PUBLISHER    [Lexington, Va.] : The Society, [c1991]
 DESCRIPT     25 p. : ill., maps ; 23 x 36 cm.
 SUBJECT      Maury River (Va.) -- Description and travel -- Maps.
              Maury River (Va.) -- Navigation.
              Historic sites -- Virginia -- Rockbridge County -- Maps.
 Leyburn Library        FOLIO F232.M37 V5 1991
This source includes a densely-packed page of information on "Iron in Rockbridge" with a map of furnaces and forges, with their dates: Altogether an excellent effort, full of interesting bits and leads to other material.

Virginia Canal and Navigations Society home page

One of the 'standard works':

 AUTHOR       Morton, Oren Frederic, 1857-1926.
 TITLE        A history of Rockbridge County, Virginia / by Oren F. Morton.
 PUBLISHER    Baltimore : Reprinted for Clearfield Company by Genealogical
                Publishing, 1994.
 DESCRIPT     574 p. : ill. ; 22 cm.
 NOTE         Reprint of the 1920 ed. published by McClure Co., Staunton, Va.
              Includes index.
 SUBJECT      Rockbridge County (Va.) -- History.
 Leyburn Library        F232.R68 M9 1994

23 July
And while we're at it, here's a link to a glossary of archaeometallurgy terms

There's also a thesis worth taking a look at in these connections:

 AUTHOR       Bradford, Samuel Sydney, 1922-
 TITLE        The ante-bellum charcoal iron industry of Virginia / by Samuel
                Sydney Bradford.
 PUBLISHER    1978.
 DESCRIPT     iv, 200 l. : ill.
 NOTE         Thesis (Ph.D)--Columbia University, 1958.
 SUBJECT      Iron industry and trade -- Virginia.
 Leyburn-Spec Coll-Rare HD9517.V8 B79 1994
and another, more general:
 TITLE        Iron and steel in the nineteenth century / edited by Paul F.
 PUBLISHER    New York : Facts on File, c1989.
 SUBJECT      Iron industry and trade.
              Steel industry and trade.
              Iron industry and trade -- United States -- History -- 19th
 Leyburn Library        HD9510.4 .I71 1989
 AUTHOR       Salmon, John S., 1948-
 TITLE        The Washington Iron Works of Franklin County, Virginia, 
 PUBLISHER    Richmond : Virginia State Library, 1986.
 DESCRIPT     ix, 82 p. : ill. ; 26 cm.
 SUBJECT      Iron industry and trade -- Virginia -- Franklin County --
              Washington Iron Works -- History.
 Leyburn-Spec Coll-Rare HD9517.V52 S25 1986
and this seems like an excellent general summary:
 AUTHOR       Gordon, Robert B. (Robert Boyd), 1929-
 TITLE        American iron, 1607-1900 / Robert B. Gordon.
 PUBLISHER    Baltimore, Md. : Johns Hopkins University Press, c1996.
 SUBJECT      Iron-works -- North America -- History -- 18th century.
              Iron-works -- North America -- History -- 19th century.
              Iron -- Metallurgy -- History -- 18th century.
              Iron -- Metallurgy -- History -- 19th century.
 Science Library        TN704.N5 G67 1996

5 Aug
This source looks worth exploring:

 TITLE        The Virginias.
 LIB. HAS     W&L 1-6 1880-1885.
 IMPRINT      Staunton, Virginia : Jed. Hotchkiss, editor and proprietor,
 DESCRIPT     v. : ill. ; 35 cm.
              Vol. 1 (1880) -  v.6 (1885)
 NOTE         "A mining, industrial and scientific journal : devoted to the 
                development of Virginia and West Virginia."
              Description based on: Vol. 2, no. 1 (Jan. 1881); title from 
              Merged into Industrial south, Richmond, Va.
 SUBJECT      Virginia -- Economic conditions -- Periodicals.
 CONT'D BY    Industrial south (Richmond, Va.)
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