Saugus Iron Works

… behind the scenes of historic preservation at Saugus Iron Works and the
17th century way of life

by Debbi Collar

Its history brimming with details of an archeological dig, the hard labor of
the people of the 17th century- Saugus Iron Works still holds its place as the
Birthplace of the American Iron and Steel Industry. A movie, museum, a blast
furnace, forge, tools and a waterwheel allow visitors to this historic landmark
to take a look back into the past.

National Park Rangers, Paul Kenworthy, Kevin Turausky, Lucas Griswold, and
Ann  Coyne, under the direction of Lead Ranger Curtis White, walk tourists
through the grounds explaining the importance of each house on the
property and each tool, as well as the operation of the foundry and the
lifestyles of those employed on its grounds during the 17th century.

Have you ever wondered though how museum guides recall all of the details
of the material knowledge that they impart on the tour?

Depending on the which Ranger leads which group, visitors will have a
completely experienced and well qualified guide such as Paul Kenworthy and
Kevin Turausky, Lucas Griswold and Ann Coyne.

Park Rangers, Paul Kenworthy and Kevin Turausky
At a recent Founder's Day, Kenworthy stands in front of a replica of a
blast furnace

Kenworthy likes to focus  on the operation of the Iron works as well as its
history. He considers his role "a dream job" and explains that "there is a
library on site," where each Ranger can research/study his/her facts to be
presented to various tour groups whether school groups, engineers,
historians or other interested visitors.

Each one of the Rangers is also responsible for "writing the script" he or she
uses with visitors to the site.

Turausky mentions his area of interest concerns the fact, that at that time,
"there were no child labor laws."  He says his tours, "focus on the lived
experiences of the iron workers."The age of some of the apprentices years
ago was 14 and they would work 12 hour days."

Griswold has spearheaded an "Archeo.(Archeology) Kit," for those interested
in the how and why of the Saugus Iron Works archeological dig.  Its contents
filled with notes and tools and samples beneficial to an archeologist.

L-Lucas Griswold with the archeological kit. R-Tools forged at Saugus
works and not part of the kit.

Ranger Ann Coyne speaks of "the four raw materials, gabbro, charcoal,
oxygen, bog iron as well as "the four cultural layers of people. Pawtuckets,
Scottish Prisoners, skilled English workers and Puritans." She says
"individually, (at that time), each group had its weakness, but put them all
together and you have "the story of iron." Calling the entire group," a melting
pot," they were the ones responsible for the "American Institute of Iron and
Steel emblem."

Although an attempt was made in Braintree to form an Iron Works, it was not
deemed a success. Engineer Richard Leader was hired by Governor of the
Massachusetts Bay Colony, John Winthrop to find an area where Iron could be
produced. Leader noted that Saugus had the land, the trees, raw materials
and a river that led into a harbor.  

Despite being noted as the first successful Iron Works and in 1650, one that
would rival any in Europe, Saugus Iron Works years later (1670) was forced to
close its doors.. According to the movie within the museum "Iron Works On
The Saugus,"  "litigation and losses and failing to make a profit" were cited as
the reason.

As years passed, a man by the name of Roland Robbins, an amateur
archeologist and self-educated historian was credited with uncovering
artifacts from the site. Excavation took place between the years of 1948 and
1953. Robbins uncovered a 500 pound hammerhead at the forge site. He
also discovered a huge oak anvil and two oak cross beams packed in clay.His
findings were the basis for the reconstruction of the buildings on the
property as we see them today.


The Saugus Iron works replica, bellows, and raw materials used to
produce iron-charcoal, bog iron and gabbro sit atop the blast furnace

Throughout the season, National Park Rangers continue to breathe life into
imparting their knowledge of past accounts of the 17th century at Saugus
iron works..

Price of Admission to Saugus Iron Works is FREE!

Hours of Operation
Open Daily, 9am - 5pm
May 1st - October 31st, 2015

(The Park is closed for the season November 1st - April 30th each year.)

November 6, 2015


You can search below for any word or words in all issues of the Melrose Mirror.
| Return to section | The Front Page | Write to us |

Write to us