ASME-Landmark:Saugus Ironworks


The Saugus Ironworks, built in 1647, was the first successful commercial ironworks in North America and, built just 25 years after the Pilgrims landed, was an impressive technological achievement for an early colony. Migration to the colonies had slowed in the 1630s, bringing fewer supply ships from Europe, and the British government offered incentives to develop manufacturing in the colonies and take advantage of New England's vast resources. Skilled ironworkers were recruited to start the Hammersmith community, as it was then called, in the Massachusetts Bay Colony.

The ironworks was located at Saugus near ore from the bogs, charcoal from nearby forests, and water power from the Saugus River. It included a blast furnace with a bellows, a reverbatory furnace, several forge fires, a trip hammer, and a rolling mill. It also used the same basic steps in iron making that are used today: reducing iron oxide with carbon to produce metallic iron that can be cast in a mold, producing wrought iron by puddling cast iron, and fabricating wrought iron with power hammer and rolls. It reportedly produced 8 tons per week when in operation, although operation was limited to spring and summer, when the water was high enough.

High production costs, the depletion of local bog ore, and reported mismanagement forced the works to go out of blast by 1675, but it was reconstructed in 1950 as a National Historic Site of the National Park Service. See ASME website for more information