north carolina highway historical marker program
North Carolina Highway Historical Marker Program



Marker Text:

     The Deep River valley in Chatham and Lee Counties, situated strategically at the head of navigation on the Cape Fear River system, has been mined regularly for its coal and iron deposits. The Wilcox Iron Works was an important source for munitions during the Revolution. The Egypt Coal Mine operated intermittently from 1855 to 1928. During the course of the Civil War the deposits became increasingly important as the output from Virginia dwindled. In April 1862 the Endor Iron Company was chartered. Two months later the investors purchased the Deep River plantation of Alexander McIver and constructed thereon a smelting furnace. That structure, which stands to this day, is built of reddish-gray rough cut stones, stands thirty-five feet tall, and is thirty-two feet square at the base. On each side is a large round-arched opening.

     It is likely that the furnace furnished supplied the Confederate arsenal at Fayetteville in addition to small nearby arms factories. In 1864 the Wilmington businessmen who chartered the company sold their interest to local buyers. They emerged from the war heavily in debt and in 1870 their holdings were sold at auction. George Lobdell of Delaware, a manufacturer of railroad car wheels, was the buyer for $1,000. With his partner J. M. Heck of Raleigh, Lobdell formed the Cape Fear Iron and Steel Company and invested over a half million dollars. By 1872 there was in place at the site one of the South’s largest and best equipped iron furnaces along with a rolling mill and foundry.

     Two years later operators were forced to conclude that the local mineral deposits were smaller than had been estimated. In addition the system of dams and locks necessary to reach the port of Wilmington were never satisfactorily completed. By 1876 the operation had ceased and most of the machinery was dismantled and removed. The furnace continued in operation until 1896 on a much smaller scale but served only local manufacturers.

Brent D. Glass, ed., North Carolina: An Inventory of Historic Engineering and Industrial Sites (1975)
Lester J. Cappon, “Iron-Making—A Forgotten Industry of North Carolina,” North Carolina Historical Review (October 1932): 331-348
Malcolm Fowler, “The Endor Iron Furnace,” The State, April 11, 1941 Sanford Herald, April 7, 1962
National Register of Historic Places nomination (1974)
Chatham County Deeds, North Carolina State Archives
Location: County:

Original Date Cast:




north carolina highway historical marker program

© 2008 North Carolina Office of Archives & History — Department of Cultural Resources