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Generation to Generation: Furnace History


Did you know? Caroline Furnace (1830s to 1865) only operated October to April, because the slaves and day laborers were needed on the nearby farms from May through September. A typical furnace of this size was using about 75% slave labor during operation. Slaves were rented for the season and operated the furnace in shifts. Outside of their shifts, slaves and day laborers were able to work for extra pay - either maintenance work, helping in the General Store, or by making whiskey. The furnace ran 24 hours a day while in it's season of operation, and needed to stay at 3000 degrees Fahrenheit to melt the ore into iron. The Caroline Furnace property, owned by Benjamin Blackford, covered 3,254 acres in Fort Valley. Benjamin Blackford also owned Elizabeth and Isabella Furnaces. We are working with a few local historians to reclaim the history of Caroline Furnace - to verify our existing sources, find additional sources, and to acknowledge those who lived and worked here, including and especially the slaves and indentured servants. Stay tuned - we're still learning about the history here and are excited to share with you!


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2239 Camp Roosevelt Road

Fort Valley, VA 22652

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© 2019 by Caroline Furnace Lutheran Camp and Retreat Center

Tel:   540-449-0012
Fax:  540-449-0050