Montgomery County

Louisa Furnace

            Ironmaster Robert B. Baxter, a native of New Jersey, built the 33-foot tall furnace stack on Louise Creek in 1844.  Powered by a steam engine, the facility made forty tons of pig iron per week.  The neighboring forge utilized a good portion of this production.  After Baxter died in 1850, the Louisa and Mount Vernon furnaces plus 20,000 acres of land were offered together for sale.  When no one offered to buy the property at an agreeable price, Baxter’s four sons-in-law formed a company that operated the ironworks until the Civil War.  In 1860, the eighty-one hands working for Jackson, McKiernon & Co. turned out two thousand tons of metal.  The mines that supplied the furnace continued to be operated well into the twentieth century.  The ore was shipped to the Cumberland Furnace for processing.  At present, a careful observer can detect the base of the limestone stack, and bits of blue slag are scattered about in the immediate area.


Tennessee Furnace

            In 1805, Richard C. Napier established the Tennessee Furnace as a major component of an early ironworks on Barton’s Creek.  Napier, his father-in-law James Robertson, and John Bosley had operated two forges (Family Forge and Charlotte Forge) on tributaries of this creek in conjunction with Robertson’s Cumberland Furnace.  The sale of this furnace to Montgomery Bell in 1804 opened the way for Napier to build the Tennessee Furnace.  In late 1815, Isaac Vanleer and his brother-in-law, Joseph Haslip, recent arrivals from Pennsylvania, leased the furnace and the two forges for ten years from Napier.  After a family squabble, Anthony and Bernard Vanleer, Isaac’s brothers, assumed control of the enterprise.  In 1820, the eighty-two workers (including five women) produced 610 tons of iron products worth more than $37,000.  At the end of the lease period, the Vanleers moved on and Robert Baxter and Edward Hicks purchased the ironworks outright from Napier.  After Hicks’s death, Baxter continued to operate the Tennessee Furnace until he died in 1850.

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