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Reclaiming Our History series


We have a story to tell. Black history is intertwined with the history of Caroline Furnace and the Shenandoah Valley.


The highest populations of enslaved people in the Shenandoah Valley labored in iron production - producing charcoal, mining iron ore, and operating iron furnaces. Benjamin Blackford owned three cold-blast charcoal iron furnaces in the Shenandoah Valley: Isabella Furnace, Elizabeth Furnace, and Caroline Furnace. Operations at Caroline Furnace began in 1836. The 1830 census reports that Benjamin Blackford enslaved 53 people of African descent: 44 men and 9 women. He also hired 7 free African Americans to work in iron furnace operations.


Pictured: a 1997 rendition by Rebecca Marston Wilson of a lost painting of Caroline Furnace, originally created in 1853 by R.E. Jarta

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Reclaiming Our History series

We have a story to tell. Black history is intertwined with the history of Caroline Furnace and the Shenandoah Valley. As shared by Shenandoah Stories: “The first African Americans were brought to Shen

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