Beckley Iron Furnace - Specifications

Preservation Study Report

[The information that follows is based on preliminary measurements, reports and reviews by Ed Kirby and Ed Kirby, Jr., November 1996.]

The Beckley Furnace was one of the three blast furnaces in operation along Lower Road and the Blackberry River during the period 1832-1923.
Beckley Furnace (East Canaan #2), was built in 1847 by John Adam Beckley, great grandson of Samuel Forbes. Construction was of fine ashlar, carbonate rock transported from a quarry a short distance west. The host formation of the carbonate rock is the Stockbridge marble (OCs). Though locally referred to as limestone, geologically the formation is a true, dolomitic marble.

Built: 1847
Stack base - 30' x 30'
Height - 32'
Bosh width - 9'
Hearth - 40"; of Dalton formation (CZd) schistose quartzite
Fuel - Charcoal
Blast - Cold
Tuyere arches - 3
Tuyers - 3 (4?) with 3.25" nozzles
Power - Water from dam to east with two bellows

Refurbished in 1856
Stack base - 30' x 30'
Height - 32'
Bosh width - 9'
Hearth - 40"; of Dalton formation (CZd) schistose quartzite; from I. N. Bartram Quarry, Mine Mt., Sharon
Fuel - Charcoal
Blast - Hot @ 475 degrees F
Tuyere arches - 3
Tuyers - 4 with 3.25" diameter
Power - Water from dam to east with two blowing tubs
[Purchased by Barnum and Richardson in 1858]
Refurbished after the 1896 fire:
Stack base 30' x 30'
Height - stack and shaft increased 8'; new height 40'.
Width at the bosh - 9'.
Hearth - 40" diameter; of Dalton formation (CZd) schistose quartzite; from I. N. Bartram Quarry, Mine Mt., Sharon.
Fuel - Charcoal.
Blast - Hot, water-cooled, @ 900 degrees F.
Blast heating oven - Ground level; 42 pipe coils in oven;
blast pipes outside furnace stack to tuyere arches.
Casting arch - Tapered French Gothic; approximately 16.3'. wide and l4' high at facing around opening; interior opening 10.4' wide.
Tuyere arches - 3; north and south tapered Gothic, at face 9.3' wide and 7.8' high; east arch brick Gothic, no taper; possibly reconstructed in the rebuilding following the 1896, fire.
Tuyeres - 4, with 3.25" diameter? [or 5 with 3" diameter?]
Power - Water powered turbine [bevel gear and portion of the turbine remain].
Blowing tubs - Vertical; 2 with 72" diameter and 6' stroke.
Casting house - Brick with curved iron roof; still standing in 1930; later torn down for the sale of bricks. Portions of the foundation remain.
North retaining wall - Fine ashlar, Stockbridge marble (OCs).
Charging wall - Across road; fine ashlar, Stockbridge marble (OCs); charcoal shed back wall (OCs, fine ashlar) standing 113' north of charging wall
Paymaster's office - Stucco building, still standing, north of the dam; vault housing in place, but safe removed; building currently on the market; potential as visitor center.

Closing of Beckley Furnace:
Lawrence Eddy (Eddy Paper, 1969) states "it continued in operation until the end of 1918, when it had to be shut down due to a salamander in the hearth." Other sources indicate the winter of 1918-1919 as the closing time.
Purchased by the State of Connecticut - 1946
Later designated as Connecticut's Industrial Monument.
National Register of Historic Places - 1978


1. General layout - bearing of south wall, N80W; base 30' E-W, 29.35' N5; top 20' x 20'; height 40' [32' to 1896 extension].
From furnace stack to north retaining wall = 5'; to east retaining wall = 6.4'; to south retaining wall by stream = 35.6'.
Access is available from the first level retaining walls on north and east.

2. West face - Casting arch French Gothic (no brick lining); open peak 13'
10", peak at face block 15' 10" [Original ground level difficult to determine; probably the sizes were 14' and 16'.] Arch across at bottom, 16' 3"; at interior of taper 10' 4".
Face has many voids, corner deterioration above mid-level, deterioration around level of the 1896 extension and bulges at mid-level on all four sides.
Slot and key binders; 10 of 12 plates in position.

3. South face - deterioration center of top section and below, left side lower corner, corner at right at top of old section; voids; severe center bulge.
Tapered French Gothic tuyere arch. Foundation in front of face extending left.

4. East face - missing binder plate top right, voids, severe bulge; iron pipe extends from shaft inside shaft below the tunnel head; missing rocks above the pipe.
Gothic (no taper) brick-lined tuyere arch in poor condition with some courses collapsed. Arch is 6' 5" wide at base, presently about 3' higher than other tuyere arches at the interior. The brick section was possibly added following the 1896 fire.

5. North face French Gothic arch, 7.8' high (higher originally) and 9.3' across at base. Voids; severe bulge; one plate missing.

6. Top - not accessed; considerable brush and tree growth, missing rocks; observed from charging wall across Lower Road, the top appears to be in extremely poor condition.

7. Interior - arches intact but need stabilization and support; interior of pedestals require stabilization from the original ground level to the bosh level.
Bottom of bosh and 1896 water-cooled hearth missing; bosh and shaft, from seven foot level upward, in fair condition; found one broken binder plate; insulating rubble and sand has dropped from the space between the stack and bosh.
Considerable rubble covers the base of the hearth area; this area requires careful archeological study.

8. The pine trees in back of the east face have been removed to allow greater air circulation for continued drying. The D. E. P. has also removed trees from the blower house foundation and raised two of the eleven salamanders from the stream for more suitable public viewing. The large size of the salamanders (much greater than the hearth size), indicates that they were formed above the hearth, at the lower bosh level.
North of the iron works, work has commenced on stabilization of the dam.

Edward M. Kirby, Research Consultant
Sundance Research and Development
100 Cornwall Bridge Road
Sharon, CT 06069

Copyright October 1999 
Karl Danneil 
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