On a recent hike in the Catoctin Mountain Park, we hiked the Charcoal trail. It was super informative and sparked our interest in the industry. We had stumbled upon the preserved Catoctin Furnace a few months earlier while we were the way to the Catoctin Zoo. We hadn't explored to deeply, so we decided to go back and check it out and see where the charcoal that we created up on in the mountains was used.
The signs along the road are unobtrusive, announcing the 'historic Catoctin Furnace District". I had driven by them numerous times and paid them no attention, but when I finally drove down that road, a whole new world of history opened up to me.
The Catoctin Furnace was in blast and operational as early as 1776 when it was instrumental in providing munitions to George Washington and his men. The furnace remained in operation, under different ownership until 1903. The grounds are well maintained and where applicable, beautifully restored. The Catoctin Furnace complex is spread out throughout the historic district but is all within short walking distance
The Catoctin Furnace Museum
The Catoctin Furnace Museum is housed in a restored iron workers house. This free museum is bright and cheery and the volunteers were quite friendly. As you walk in, a map of the complex is affixed to the floor allowing you to get a clear view of where you are and what there is to see as you explore this historical site.
The museum has a good number of artifacts on display. There are both items that were used at the iron works as well as items that were created and manufactured at this site. The displays are informative and interesting to see. The museum is not large. It only took us about 30 minutes give or take to view all it had to offer. Before we left, the volunteer manning the visitor center reminded us of the places that we should check out within the complex. We headed outside and started to explore.
Buildings at the Catoctin Furnace
The museum has restored two of the old houses in the area to use for museum purposes. The first building is a two story log cabin that was a colliers house. This home in particular housed two different families. Many times, these families would take in boarders to supplement their income.
The second house is the Forgemans house This stone house is absolutely adorable and has been renovated to include a working bathroom and kitchen. We were advised that we could peer into the windows but this building can be rented out for overnight trips.
The furnace is still standing and the historical society has rebuilt the shed that is connected with it. The size of the furnaces always enthralls me as I can only imagine the heat that must have emanated!
Catoctin Furnace Buildings in Ruins
Some of the buildings at the Catoctin Furnace complex are lying in ruins, too far gone to restore. One of these is the Iron masters Mansion. This mansion was built on a small hill so that the iron master could keep an eye on the workings of the whole village from the comfort of his own home.
It is hard to not stand at the ruins of what was once a large and grand house and not notice the difference between the iron master and the colliers houses.
Trails at the Catoctin Furnace
There are two main trails at the Catoctin Furnace. The first is a short interactive trail that is dotted with signs that give information about the history of the area and the ironworks. The trail ends at the site of an African America gravesite where workers from the ironwork lay. The gravesites were discovered during the building of the nearby route 15. In recent years, archeologists have worked to identify the remains in that are buried here and in the museum they have two busts that were created using the information that they discovered during their archeology expeditions.
The other trail that is on this property is a trail that meanders over streams and through the woods. It is also an interactive trail that has signs to give more historical information. This trail will lead you right to the Cunningham Falls State Park.
This small historical site has been well maintained and preserved. The history is rich and displayed in a manner that is interesting as well as easy to understand. Our entire visit took about 2 hours. That includes visiting all sites and hiking all portions of the short trails. It is well worth the visit!
To see where they made Charcoal to fuel this furnace check out the Catoctin Charcoal Trail post.
We were out geocaching in West Virginia wen we drove by this gorgeous stone chapel. We just had to stop to explore!
The stone marker on the front of the building identified this historic chapel as the Halltown Union Colored Sunday School. I was immediately hooked and I wanted to know more!
Built in 1901 on land donated by a West Virginia Supreme Court Justice, Daniel Lucas; this small stone church serviced the black community in this area until 1967. Even after the church no longer held Sunday Services, the church building remained in use for weddings, funerals and community events.
The building was restored to it's original appearance in 1982-1983. It was successfully added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1984. The original pulpit still resides in the building.
Just a few mere feet away from the stone chapel sits a small stone building. This was once the Halltown Colored Free School.
This school was built in 1870. It was used as a school house until the year 1929 after which it was used as a residence. The building is owned by the same group that owns the church. That historic preservation group was successful in getting this fascinating building on the Historical Register in 2004.
We were out enjoying a nice weekend day and drove by the long empty school in Zullinger, PA. It was a building that had always caught my eye as intriguing and interesting. However, I had never taken the time to stop and look around and I had certainly never completed even the most basic research on this old structure. That was about to change.
This structure was built and ready for occupancy in 1911. It was designed to replace and consolidate multiple one room schoolhouses in the area. The building was state of the art, boasting of being equipped with Steam generated heat and it's very own recently bored fresh water well.
During it's first year as a school, only three of the rooms were used with three teachers serving the students. In time however, a fourth teacher was added and all rooms were in use as classrooms. At that time, the school housed students from first to eighth grade. Four teachers shared the responsibilities with each teacher in their own classroom working with two grade levels.
At some point, the school began to operate as a primary school. At that time they only serviced students who were in grades 1-4. Once again, each with four teachers. The school operated that way until the end of the 1961 to 1962 school year. At that time, the school ceased to function as a school house.
Over the ensuing years the school was used by random short term tenants. Most notably a haunted house that took place in the fall of each year.
The building is now owned by the Waynesboro Historical Society. The society is in the process of completing the paperwork to have this building placed onto the Historic Register. Good Luck Waynesboro Historical Society, we would love to see this building restored to all it's former glory!
Belief In Living
Travel with us as we explore!