EBT heraldRI&C Furnace

Photo of RI&C Furnace
Mile Mark: unknown
Elevation: 630'
Date Built: 1873
Published Photos: EBT 31, 39, 58, 82

This large coke powered iron blast furnace was built from April 17, 1873 (shortly after the railroad reachd the site) until January 1, 1876. It should not be confused with the earlier charcoal powered Rockhill Furnace for which the town was named. After 1872 both the original furnace and this new coke furnace were owned by Rockhill Iron and Coal. It had over a hundred behive coke ovens to process Broad Top coal into coke and two 70 foot high furnaces. One furnace was in blast while the other was relined with firebrick.

The furnace was closed due to financial difficulties, including labor unrest, in the late 1890's. It was put back into blast in the mid 1900's by a lessor, but the furnace plant was desperately out of date by then. It closed permanently in 1907. Around 1914 the machinery was sold to a furnace in Tennesee and the walls were knocked down to remove it. The stacks were blasted down to salvage their iron sheathing. In the 1920's the McKelvy Brothers logging operation built a leanto locomotive shed on the back storehouse wall.

Today the only structure standing is most of the first floor of the three floor engine house. The pits that contained the blast engine flywheels are apparent. Two large lumps of firebrick mark the locations of the stacks. Between were the hot ovens which prepared the blast for injection. Behind those one wall of the storehouse still stands. To the southwest most of the beehive coke ovens still stand, though in delapidated form.

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