Glossary

Big House -- The house in which the ironmaster resided.


Blast -- A forced air current that was used to achieve the high temperature necessary for smelting process to occur.  If a furnace was in production, it was “in blast.”  If the furnace was not operating it was “out of blast.”

 

Blast Furnace -- A hollow, elongated egg-shaped chamber, supported by a square stone stack, in which iron ore was smelted to produce pig iron.

 

Blast Machine -- A mechanical pump (powered by either water or steam) that created the forced air current.

 

Bloom -- A pasty mass of molten iron, containing liquid slag.

 

Bloomery (or Bloomary) Forge -- A place where iron ore was smelted in small quantities to produce blooms.  The blooms were then reheated and hammered into a more malleable form known as wrought iron.

 

Bosh -- The widest part of the hollow interior of the furnace where the smelting process took place.

 

Bridge -- A walkway that extended from the hilltop adjacent to the furnace to the top of the stack, across which the materials for the charge were carried and loaded into the furnace.

 

Bridge House -- A wooden structure that protected the bridge and the materials for the charge from the elements.

 

Blowing Tubs -- The air-tight barrel-shaped bellows that stored and then released the compressed air for the blast. They were located at either side of the water wheel.

 

Cast Iron -- Iron taken directly from the blast furnace that was moulded to form various objects, such as pots, pans, kettles or stove plates.

 

Casting House -- The house or shed at the base of the furnace in which the molten iron was formed into pigs or consumer products.

 

Charcoal Pit -- A mound of stacked logs placed on flat ground that was slowly burned in almost the complete absence of air in order to produce charcoal.

 

Charge -- Also called the burden. A measured combination of the smelting materials (charcoal, ore, and flux) loaded into the top of the furnace stack from a platform known as the charging deck.

 

Clerk -- The business assistant to the ironmaster.  He kept the books, managed the company store and paid the employees. 

 

Cold Blast -- Cold or ambient air used for the smelting process.

 

Collier -- A highly skilled artisan who made charcoal.

 

Crucible -- The lowest area of the furnace stack where molten iron collects.

 

Cupola -- A small iron-walled furnace used to re-melt pig iron for casting purposes.

 

Filler -- A person who loaded the stack from the top with iron ore, charcoal, and limestone.  This job was considered to be one of the most dangerous at the furnace. 

 

Finery Forge -- A place where pig iron was repeatedly heated and hammered to remove excess carbon and silicon in order to make wrought iron. 

 

Flux -- This additive, usually limestone, facilitated the smelting process and combined with the impurities in the ore to form slag.

 

Founder -- In charge of day to day operations.  He was responsible for keeping the furnace at peak efficiency and productivity.

 

Gutterman -- A person who dug channels in the sand floor of the casting house into which the molten iron flowed.  He loaded the pigs and disposed of the slag.

 

Hematite -- A reddish ore containing a maximum (in theory) of 69.9% elemental iron.  Known as dyestone in the nineteenth century.

 

Hot blast -- Preheated air used for the smelting process.

 

Hollow ware -- Cast iron objects such as kettles, pots, pans, etc.

 

Ironmaster -- The general manager of the ironworks and the plantation, often the owner.

 

Ironworks -- A collective name that describes a blast furnace, forge, mill, foundry, and/or specialty shop.

 

Limonite -- A collective term describing several varieties of brown ore containing a theoretical maximum of 62.9% elemental iron.

 

Magnetite -- A rare, metallic black ore with a potential elemental iron content of 72.4%.

 

Molder -- A person who cast molten iron into consumer products. Highly skilled and well paid.

 

Oven -- A fire-resistant brick-lined chamber in which the air was pre-heated for a hot blast.

 

Pig Iron -- Molten iron that was poured into bar-shaped moulds that range from three to ten feet in length, five or more inches in width, four inches or so in thickness, and weighed from 35 to 100 pounds apiece. Commonly referred to as pigs. 

 

Plantation -- A community which includes the furnace, related shops, farms, and the homes of the furnace workers.

 

Puddling -- A cheaper and faster way of refining pig iron than the finery method. The metal did not come in contact with the fuel and was stirred with a long iron bar. The carbon was burned out by repeated contact with the air and the remaining pasty lump was passed through a pair of rolls and emerged in bar form.

 

Quarryman -- A person that worked in the quarry removing limestone.

 

Rolling and Slitting Mill -- A place where hot wrought iron bars were passed through a series of heavy shaping rollers and formed into plates and sheets of flexible iron of various thicknesses. Some of this rolled iron was reheated and passed through cutting discs to form strips to make nails or other products.

 

Slag -- A liquid mixture of non-ferrous impurities and flux produced during the smelting process that becomes rock hard when cooled. It occurs in many different colors. At times the slag was crushed and used for roadbeds.

 

Smelting -- The process of separating iron from iron ore by the application of high, sustained heat in the presence of a fluxing material. 

 

Stack -- A large stone chimney lined on the inside with firebrick wherein the smelting process took place. 

 

Teamster -- A person that drove a team of horses, oxen, or mules for hauling.

 

Tenant House -- A house that an employee rented from the owner.

 

Tilt or Trip Hammer -- A large, heavy tool used for pounding red-hot iron in order to remove impurities or shape it into bars.

 

Tunnel head -- Also called the throat. The opening at the top of the furnace stack where the charge was loaded.

 

Tuyere -- An opening where the blast entered the chamber where the ore was smelted.

 

Tuyere Arch -- The arched opening at the base of the furnace that admitted the blast pipes into the hearth region.

 

Wrought Iron -- Iron that has a low carbon content and easily could be shaped when reheated; often used for fences, gates, and decorative pieces.