COPAKE IRON WORKS

COPAKE

COLUMBIA COUNTY,

NEW YORK

By Capt. Franklin Ellis212

1878

 

     This enterprise was first established, in the year 1845, by a firm called "Lemuel Pomeroy & Sons," of Pittsfield, Mass.  The firm was composed of Lemuel Pomeroy, Sr., Lemuel Pomeroy, Jr., Robert Pomeroy, and Theodore Pomeroy.  They had formerly, for a period of about ten years, been running the old Livingston furnace, in Ancram, but, being attracted by the large bed of fine ore and the excellent water-power, decided to come here and build a new furnace.  They immediately erected the necessary buildings, and commenced the first blast in 1846.  The capacity of this furnace was some fifty or sixty tons per month.  In 1848 the "Copake Iron Company" was formed by the admission of Isaac C. Chesbrough and William L. Pomeroy as members of the firm.  An interest in the business was soon after sold to "Hathaway & Johnson,"  of South Adams, Mass.  In 1850 the firm was again reorganized, and Lemuel Pomeroy, Jr., Isaac C. Chesbrough, Robert Pomeroy, and Theodore Pomeroy became the owners.  In 1853, Lemeul Pomeroy died, and the other three partners continued the business until 1861, when they sold to John Beckley, of Canaan, Conn., and he, in 1862, sold to the present owner, Frederick Miles.

     In 1847 a forge was built in connection with the furnace for the purpose of converting the cast-iron into wrought-iron, and preparing it for use in the manufacture of car-axles and gun-barrels.  A heavy trip-hammer was used in this work, and all kinds of rod and bar-iron were produced.  This branch of the business was given up in 1854.  For the first years of its existence the iron produced at this furnace was transported to Hudson in carts, to be shipped from there by rail or water.  In 1852 the Harlem road was built through, and furnished them with increased facilities for transporting their productions.

     The old stack or furnace was used till 1872, when the present one was erected.  It is about thirty feet square at its base, nine feet inner diameter at the boshes, and thirty-two feet high.  It is built of marble stone, from Dover, Dutchess Co., and has three tuyere arches, using four three-and-one-fourth-inch tuyeres.  The blast is furnished by two large blowing-cylinders run by an overshot wheel about twenty feet in diameter.  The air is heated to a temperature of about 400 degrees Fahrenheit, and applied to the furnace under a pressure of five-tenths of a pound to the square inch.  The buildings occupied by the works are nine in number, and the proprietor also owns about twenty buildings which are occupied by the workmen.  A railroad about three-fourths of a mile long has just been completed, which connects the furnace with the depot, furnishing unsurpassed facilities for handling of materials and the iron produced.  A foundry for the manufacture of plows and other agricultural implements is also contemplated.  In addition to the power furnished by the water-wheel, the works are supplied with a fine steam-engine, which is used in times of low water.  The works employ about fifty hands, and consume annually about eight thousand tons of iron ore, twelve hundred tons of limestone, and four hundred and fifty thousand bushels of charcoal.  The iron produced amounts to three thousand seven hundred and fifty tons per year, and is of a fine quality, excellently adapted to the making of car-wheels.  Its tensile strength is from thirty-two thousand to thirty-seven thousand pounds to the square inch.  There are seven grades of this iron, numbered from "No. 1," which is the softest, to "No. 6," which is the hardest.  Most of the iron is composed of Nos. 3, 4, and 4, which are the best adapted to car-wheel work, being both hard and tenacious.  This iron bears an excellent reputation, and is shipped to all parts of the country.

     The ore-bed owned by Mr. Niles and from which most of the ore used at the furnace is obtained, lies near the railroad.  It was first opened many years ago, but was not very extensively worked until the furnace was built in 1845.  It is worked by the "open-cut" method, and several different cuts have been opened.  The one now being worked was opened by Mr. Miles, and has been worked to a depth of sixty feet, furnishing an ore that produces fifty per cent of metallic iron in the furnace, and fifty-eight per cent by assay.  At present about five thousand tons of ore are being taken out yearly, the rest of the ore used at the iron-works being brought form Pawling and Amenia, in Dutchess county, and from the Weed mine in Ancram.  The ore is drawn from the mine in carts, and after passing through the Blake crusher and the Bradford washer, is again loaded into carts or wagons and drawn to the furnace.

     The other manufactory was located at the foot of Robison's lake, and was first built as a grist-mill by the proprietor of the manor for one of his tenants, Nicholas Robison, after whom the lake was named.  It has since been owned by James Robison, Isaiah and Isaac Griffin, Silas Miller, Norman Pulver, and has finally passed into the hands of Messrs. McArthur & Van Deusen.  It has four run of stone, and employs water-power equivalent to one hundred and twenty-five horse-power.  Its capacity is about eight hundred bushels per day.  There is also a saw-mill located there.  While owned by the Robisons a clothiery was established there, consisting of a carding-machine and a fulling and cloth-dressing mill.  This business was afterwards carried on by Edward and Christopher Gernon, and was finally abandoned about thirty-five years ago.