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Rossie Blast Furnace


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The Rossie furnace was the first blast-furnace erected in northern New York. It was built in the summer of 1813, & got into operation in 1815. The Caledonia iron mine, one mile east of Sommerville, began to be wrought at about the same time or year before. The ore was first sent to Albany for trial. When first erected the furnace consisted of two stacks, but only one of these ever got into operation. They were about thirty-two feet square at the base, & of the same height. The agent employed by Mr. Parish to build & run his furnace was William Bembo, an Englishman of great experience in this business, but unacquainted with the ores & fuels used in this country. The result was that no iron could be made, & after spending large sums in experimenting, & in building a costly mansion for permanent residence, he abandoned the attempt in discouragement, & returned to England.

At this juncture, Mr. Parish met with parties from New England,who guessed that the thing could be done, & he accordingly offered to Messrs.Keith, Marvin & Sykes the free use of the furnace & coal, with the privilege of using the best of the ore upon the premises, & all they could make in three months, if they would make a trial. The result was that these men realized a large profit,& not the least difficulty was found in getting iron of a good quality & in greatest abundance.

From this time the furnace was run by S.Fullers & Co.,for about three years, on a contract & which was to have run five years,but Mr. George Parish having an opportunity of leasting it for a long term, bought the contract & leased it to Robert R. Burr, of New Jersey, who ran it two or three years, & left about 1827. It then lay idle about ten years. A forge was ecected in 1816,which was subsequenty burned. The first furnace was what was technically called a quater-furnace, with one tewel, or pipe for air. A part of the time previous to 1826 bog ore was used. The principal supply has been from Caledonia mine in Rossie, The Keene & Wicks mines in Antwerp, & a small opening adjoining the Kearney mine.

This furnace has been several times burnt & rebuilt. On the 12th day of May, 1837, it was again got in operation by Mr. Parish. A stack thirty-two feet square & forty-six feet high, was built during that year,which stood untill 1844, when the present stack, which is forty-feet square, & nine feet diameter within & capable of making eleven tons per day with a hot blast, was erected. It is technically called a three-quarter furnace, & has three tewel, or air pipes. The hot blast was introduced in 1838, by Mr. Alger, the patentee.

From 110 to 120 bushels of charcoal are required to make a ton of iron with the hot blast & 200 with the cold blast. The Last blast at this furnace ended Oct.14, 1867, Since that time the works have remained idle....

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