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

 
 
 

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Marker Text:

Essay:
     Ironmaking thrived from the late 1700s through the late 1800s in the Chatham/Lee County area along the Deep River, in Lincoln County, and in present-day Stokes County. Prior to 1843 Stokes had only small charcoal-fired forges known as “bloomeries.” Transportation difficulties prevented marketing of the product outside the local area and limited the industry’s growth.

     In 1840 Nathaniel Moody borrowed $10,000 by mortgaging nine tracts and bought 107 acres on the Dan River. In 1843 he built on the property a forced-blast type smelting furnace, twenty-eight feet square at the base, twenty-six feet square at the top, and twenty-eight feet tall. Constructed of rough-cut granite stones and unmortared on the exterior, the furnace has arched, vaulted openings on three sides. Iron produced was floated by flatboats to the rail line at Danville. Initially known as “Moody’s Tunnel Iron Works,” the furnace had no peer in the county. The only similar surviving structure in the state is the Endor Furnace on the Deep River in Lee County.

     Like the Endor Furnace, the Moratock Furnace, as it was known after 1862, supplied the Confederacy with iron. Reuben Golding bought the property in 1854 and operated a thriving business through the 1850s. In 1862, with the help of Richmond investors and on the urging of the director of the Tredegar works in that city, Golding reopened the furnace. Gen. George H. Stoneman’s federal troops shut down production during the closing days of the war. In 1870 the furnace was not in operation; use was irregular until the 1890s when all activity ceased. In 1973 owners sold the property to Stokes County for use as a park. The imposing furnace, on the National Register of Historic Places since 1974, today is the centerpiece of Moratock Park.


References:
Brent Glass, ed., North Carolina: An Inventory of Historic Engineering and Industrial Sites (1976)
Lester J. Cappon, “Iron Making—A Forgotten Industry of North Carolina,” North Carolina Historical Review (October 1932): 331-348
Danbury Iron Works Daybook, 1855-1858, North Carolina State Archives
Stokes County Deeds and Court Records, North Carolina State Archives
Industry Schedules, 1850, 1860, and 1870 Censuses
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north carolina highway historical marker program


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