Tuesday, September 25, 2012


Old team track crane, Mt Holly, NJ  - Up until a year or so ago, the platform in the rear was still used as a team track by a local lumber yard.  This is the end of the line, which originally extended out to Ft Dix and then to the ocean.
It's been slow on the modeling front lately as work and other things have taken precedent.  I was also a little stumped/blocked as there is so much to work on, but I just couldn't figure out where to start.  I finally picked the precipitator complex.  It's mostly done with the exception of a lot of real boring or pain in the ass stuff - like fifty lights or so, a few walkways, and other miscellaneous stuff.  The two walkways left are both under the line of goggle valves - of course - and need to be tied into the stair towers to boot.  One is done, and was slightly easier than expected, but that is relative to what I expected.  I don't have a photo yet, but once I complete the other and a few more things I'll do a comprehensive post.   I might actually be painting this puppy before the end of the year.  I will leave you with some filler photos for now - local industrial archeology, my favorite roll local factory, and some early 1800's iron industry errata - modeling will appear soon.
Add some cable and apply some PB Blaster and we should be good to go.   Was is Alexander that used to make a similar HO kit?
As I think I've expounded on in the past, South Jersey has a rich ironmaking past that dates back to the 1700s.  Pre 1860's this industry was firmly entrenched in the most unlikely place imaginable, the New Jersey Pine Barrens.  These remote furnaces used "bog ore" a form of low grade iron ore found in the swamps of this area, and still abundant to this day.  The vast forests provided fuel in the form of charcoal and shells from the nearby shore, flux.   The furnaces produced munitions for Washington's army and were of such a concern to the British that they mounted two separate incursions to destroy this industry - only one furnace was ever destroyed, and that was in Mt Holly, which is not technically in the Pines.  Hard to believe if you have ever visited this remote area, but most of these furnaces were able to ship their products via water using lengthy creeks and rivers that extended from the Atlantic deep into the Pines.   In all there were 30 separate iron works, many with blast furnaces but others, bloomeries,  forges and or slitting mills.   The earliest was built in 1725 and the last furnace blew out in 1868.   To give you an interesting flavor of this industry, here are some of the more interesting and sometimes funny, excerpts from the "Martha Furnace Diary" from the seminal work on this subject, Iron in the Pines, by Arthur D. Pierce, 1957.  (My comments in parentheses)

5/11/1808 - A very stormy & rainy day.  The furnace teams idle.  The Furnace made a Puff.  No damage done. (A puff was apparently some sort of irregularity, maybe a problem with the burden, but a concern and potentially dangerous)
5/18/1808 - Finished hauling from Kelly's whart.  Report says James McGilligan made a violent attempt on the chastity of Miss Durky Trusty, ye African.
6/3/1808 - A very sultry day. Put the new stampers into N.E. mill.  Excellent coal coming in.
7/7/1808 - Good iron.  Furnace working easier.
7/14/1808 - The Sloop arrived. Teams hauling from Leeks.
8/13/1808 - Sleeve to Furnace Wheel gudgeon broke.
8/15/1808 - Jacob Williamson done little work this day.  Slept most of the afternoon on the shop bench
11/23/1808 - Issac Cramer's team hauled Moulding sand in forenoon.  J. Bodine's team hauled 2 lds. Shells and 1 ton iron
1/4/1809 - Frost stopped furnace wheel several times.
1/7/1809 - Ore teams hauled hay. Blew the furnace out at 8 o'clock p.m.  All hands drunk.
4/20/1809 - At 25m. past 2 o'clock P.M. put the Furnace in blast, Delaney & Cox fillers, Hedger putting in the ore & Donaghau banksman.
5/3/1809 - Teams hauled ore in forenoon.  Corn in afternoon.  Stewarts team got off the Bridge at the Furnace Wheel.  Not much injury sustained
7/12/1809 - Metal high in furnace.  Hughes lost some castings.
7/30/1809 - Molders returned from the Beach.  J. Ventling drunk and eating eggs at the Slitting Mill.  Josh Townsend wanting to fight J. Williamson.  Furnace boiled & the metal consolidated in the gutter
1/22/1810 - Williamson drunk as a lark
6/3/1810 - This morning about 3 o'clcok a fire broke out in the Bellows House & with the greatest difficulty it was got under.  The roof & rafters all burnt up & destroyed & with great difficulty the Bellows were saved.  Men went to work & the Furnace began to blow before Sunset
8/11/1810 - Moses Gaskill cut off his finger working at the Stamping Mill
12/6/1810 - The men begin to complain of beef.  They want Pork.
12/21/1810 - Rain.  Furnace made very bad Iron owing to the wet weather.
4/28/1811 - Jacob Emons went to the Bucks and got very drunk and coming up stopped at meeting to get his sins forgiven him.
6/25/1811 - Milligan & Camp carting iron.  They stopped at Bucks.  From the juice of the Bucks keg Joseph got intoxicated and let his horse run away.
7/4/1811 - Independence.  May the name of Washington be immortal and the Federal constitution may it never fail.
10/8/1811 - Election at Bodine's Men went and gave in their mite and all retd. sober.  Edward Rutter off a drinking.  It was reported that he got drunk on cheese.
11/18/1811 - Mr & Mrs Evans went to hear a divine oration at the Bank.  Furnace made a great Emission of ore and coal about 4 o'clock in the afternoon.
2/18/1812 - Teams carting ore from Sassafras.  Jane Hamilton conceived and brot forth a son.  Mrs. Core put to bed. Women are all very fruitful, multiply, and replenish.
4/20/1812 - Men chiefly training at Bodine's (War of 1812)
5/13/1812 - Report say Jno. Williams whipped his wife and started for Hanover Furnace
5/25/1812 - James McEntire brought his daughter home from the Half Moon for fear her morals would be corrupted
7/2/1812 - Phebe Craig made a general muster and brot. forth a daughter.  Furnace working very stiff
7/11/1812 - A great battle ensued this day among the Irish
9/17/1812 - Jane Hamilton was this day tried by the Synod of her church.  The crime alleged against her was for using spiritual Liquor, but acquitted.
4/12/1813 - William Gibbs & R. Booy filling the furnace.  Wm. Mick's widow arrived here in pursuit of J. Mick who she says has knocked her up
6/2/1813 - Great conflagration.  The Furnace and Warehouse was this day entirely consumed, but fortunately no lives lost.  John Craig got very much burnt.
8/11/1813 - Furnace went in blast
9/15/1813 - Mosquitoes very thick
12/1/1813 - A fleet consisting of four sail flat bottom vessels arrived loaded with oyster shells
7/30/1814 - Solomon Truax & E. Hambleton was married this evening.  Had a great time, ended of kissing the Bride & other some taking gates off the hinges and throwing them in the woods, and some to quarrelling

and on and on.   There is a lot more to this diary than what I've posted, and a lot of serious iron making going on and hard work by all.  But I've always thought this diary was neat in that it gives a more human perspective on the enterprise.  The drunkeness was obviously a serious enough concern for the diary writer as I would say those type of entries account for maybe 25% of the total.

Hot Rolls from Del Buono's Bakery, Mt Ephraim, NJ - You pickup a brown bag from the counter and load it up with hot rolls right off the conveyor belt - so hot they will burn your hand so it's a hot potato situation.  Cheap and delicious.  Usually only about ten out of the dozen make it home, but I always forget to bring a butter packet.   You have got to love these old school operations that don't give a rats ass about liability or having people walking around hot industrial ovens and grabbing rolls from moving belts.  

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