Down East 2013 ©
With a sky that clear, it’s hard to believe this mammoth fireplace deep in the northern woods was once the hot and glowing heart of a nineteenth-century smelting operation that choked the air with acrid smoke. The company that built this blast furnace manufactured pig iron, from which rail-car wheels and wire were made. At its peak, it employed several hundred men — miners to strip iron sulfite ore from a nearby mountain, lumbermen to feed the sixteen charcoal-producing kilns, and smelters to shovel ore and charcoal into this furnace. After fifty-two years, the factory was put out of business by Pennsylvania steel mills — this furnace and one kiln are all that remain. Comprising a Maine State Historic Site in their own right, the artifacts are located near two National Natural Landmarks: a three-mile-long gorge and an ancient grove of eastern white pines.
If you can identify this oven in the woods, send us a note at P.O. Box 679, Camden, ME 04843; whip off an email to email@example.com; or post a comment below. We’ll feature our favorite letter in an upcoming issue — and send the winner a Down East wall calendar.
Photographed by Greg A. Hartford