Europeans introduced the important craft of iron making to Appalachia in the 16th century. Iron ore was discovered all over the region. Large deposits were found in Pennsylvania. Smaller ones were scattered in places like Cherokee, Ashe, and Avery Counties in Western North Carolina, where small-scale furnaces and bloomery forges supplied the demand generated by local blacksmiths. Small mountain bloomery forges used coal or charcoal to smelt the ore. The refined metal was then beaten by large hammers lifted and dropped by water wheels. Much of the iron produced in those small forges was cast iron that smiths beat into utensils and tools for household use. Some of it was cast into large blocks, or pigs, of iron for transport and resale to blacksmiths in other places.
Below is the Digital Heritage Moment as broadcast on the radio:
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