Few people are aware of it, but just 10 miles Northeast of Boston, in Saugus Massachusetts , is the site of the first integrated ironworks in North America. It only operated from 1646 thru approximately 1670. It included a blast furnace, forge, rolling mill, shear, slitter and a quarter ton drop hammer.
The facility was powered by seven large waterwheels, some of which are rigged to work in tandem with huge wooden gears connecting them. It has a wharf to load the iron onto ocean-going vessels, as well as a large, restored 17th-century house.
During the 17th century, iron was used to manufacture a number of indispensable goods, including nails, horseshoes, cookware, tools, and weapons. The production of iron required a complex manufacturing process that could only be done by an industrial enterprise. This process was not available in North America during the early years of English colonization, which meant that all iron goods had to be imported. As it took at least two months to sail to the nearest foundry, iron goods were very expensive.
Although the Saugus Iron Works never produced any iron beds, it was responsible for introducing the technical manufacturing technics that would soon be used in the Pittsburgh Pa area where iron ore and steel became responsible for building the city and producing the highest quality steel in our country.
Antique iron beds became popular and started showing up in the early 1800’s.
To this day I ship more of our iron beds back to the Boston area than I do to most cities in our country. I have to believe it has to do with the drive toward restoration and preservation of old historic residences that throughout the 1800’s were furnished with them.
Thank you to the Saugus Iron Works for being the first to introduce the production of iron materials in this country.