Catoctin Furnace Historical Society
Catoctin Furnace Historical Society, Inc.
12320 Auburn Road
Thurmont , MD , 21788
US
Phone: 301-271-2306
Email: ecomer@eacarchaeology.com

History and Research


The Catoctin Furnace Historical Society, Inc., celebrates, studies, and preserves the rich history of this pre-revolutionary industrial village, including  the architecture, cultural landscapes, lifeways, and foodways of the workers. Below you will find some useful documents and links to historical and scientific research.     



Historic Paint Finishes Study

 

Recently, two paint samples were analyzed from the interior of the Forgeman's House. Click here to download the report.

 

Historical and Archaeological Reports (Updated!)

Below are a series of links to download architectural and archaeological reports on Catoctin Furnace for research purposes.

 

Contract Archaeology, Inc. 1971. An Historical and Archaeological Survey of Land Affected by the Dualization of U.S. Route 15 at the Catoctin Iron Furnace. Prepared for State of Maryland State Highway Administration, Baltimore, Maryland. (Part 1)

 

Contract Archaeology, Inc. 1971. An Historical and Archaeological Survey of Land Affected by the Dualization of U.S. Route 15 at the Catoctin Iron Furnace. Prepared for State of Maryland State Highway Administration, Baltimore, Maryland. (Part 2)

 

Eleanor Lakin Architects. 1987. Collier's Log House Specifications. Prepared for the Catoctin Furnace Historical Society. (Part 1)

 

Eleanor Lakin Architects. 1987. Collier's Log House Specifications. Prepared for the Catoctin Furnace Historical Society. (Part 2)

 

Eleanor Lakin Architects. 1987. Collier's Log House Specifications Phase 2. Prepared for the Catoctin Furnace Historical Society.

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

National Heritage Corporation. 1975. Catoctin Iron Furnace Cunningham Falls State Park, Thurmont, Maryland: A Report on an Historical Survey. Prepared for the State of Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Land Planning Services. (Part 3)

 

Orr, Kenneth and Ronald Orr. 1977. An Intensive Archaeological Survey of Alignment 1 Corridor, U.S. Route 15 from Putnam Road to Maryland Route 77 in Frederick County, Maryland. (Part 1)

 

Orr, Kenneth and Ronald Orr. 1977. An Intensive Archaeological Survey of Alignment 1 Corridor, U.S. Route 15 from Putnam Road to Maryland Route 77 in Frederick County, Maryland. (Part 2)

 

Reed, Douglass and Paula Dickey. 1977. Catoctin Furnace Double Log House: A Historic Structure Report. Prepared for the Catoctin Furnace Historical Society.

 

 

 

Struthers, Thomas. 1981. Archaeological Survey of Catoctin Furnace, Cunningham Falls State Park and Adjacent Areas. Prepared for State of Maryland Department of General Services and Department of Natural Resources. (Part 2)

 

The following links are provided through the Jefferson Patterson Park website:

 

Burnston, Sharon Ann and Ronald A. Thomas. 1981. Archaeological Data Recovery at Catoctin Furnace Cemetery, Frederick County, Maryland. Prepared for Orr and Son, Consulting Archaeologists.

 

Burnston, Sharon Ann and Ronald A. Thomas. 1981. Archaeological Data Recovery at Catoctin Furnace Cemetery, Frederick County, Maryland: Appendices. Prepared for Orr and Son, Consulting Archaeologists

 

Fauth, Dr. John L. 1980. The Catoctin Furnace Archaeological Mitigation Project. U.S. Route 15, Putnam Road to Route 77, Frederick County, Maryland: Report by the Geological Consultant.

 

Orr, Kenneth and Ronald Orr. 1980. Interim Report of the Catoctin Furnace Archaeological Mitigation Project Contract F522-152-770. Prepared for the Maryland State Highway Administration.

 

Orr, Kenneth and Ronald Orr. 1982. The Catoctin Furnace Archaeological Mitigation Project: Final Report of the 1979 Excavation Contract F522-152-770. Part 1: Investigations and Site Synthesis (Consultant's Team). Prepared for the Maryland State Highway Administration.

 

Pay Rolls and Ledgers
Download the historic Payroll for Catoctin Furnace.
Oral History Transcripts: interviews with residents of Catoctin Furnace
Bill and Boots recall their way of life as it used to be and how things have changed in the present day. They mostly discuss growing, harvesting, and preparing their own food. The conversation begins by describing processes such as making meat pudding, canning corn and tomatoes, and raising hogs, chicken, and cows. It is mentioned that specific jobs were divided between men and women but throughout the text it is apparent that generally both genders participated in preparing meals. The farmer’s almanac is also brought up and the guidelines on planting crops are discussed in detail; Bill and Boots are very specific about the phases of the moon, zodiac signs and using the right type of fertilizer. Next there is talk of collecting wild greens and growing herbs for tea. It seems such things are not available or do not grow in abundance the way they used to do. In the context of how the land has been built up over the years it is briefly mentioned that the Sweeney house, built in 1863, is very valuable. Then the discussion turns back to comparing older times to present times, how older generations seemed to be more self-reliant, and the quality, as well as the expenses of food bought from stores or restaurants are contrasted with farming and self-preparation.

This interview discusses very thoroughly a menu of meals that Ethel prepared and ate growing up some of which she continued to make once she had her own family. Many dishes are described in great detail, such as the bread her father taught her to make, how they grew their own yeast and the different dishes she made with the bread. Almost everything her family ate, they raised themselves and she describes using the farmer’s almanac and confirms Bill and Boot’s same faith in the effects of the moon phases. Ethel recalls how her father died when she was young and how her mother worked off of the farm cleaning houses in addition to selling some fruit they grew in order to support her nine children.  Being poor it was very rare that the family ate meat but Ethel describes how her mother prepared rabbit when the boys hunted it during the appropriate season and how they used the many different parts of a pig if they had one. Otherwise the family was very resourceful in order to never go hungry, if nothing else eating shortbread and gravy made from browned bread and “meat drippings”. Discussed in brief is the Devilbiss house that had been in Ethel’s husbands family for at least 150 years. 

Mabel Fraley, who lived in the Manor House when she was young, describes the layout of the house and how it operated such as the functions of the rooms, the dumb waiter, how it was heated by fireplaces. Jessie Stitely adds her own details about the aesthetics of the house such as the painted walls and carved wood. They both recount the names of the other tenants who lived in the house, the Carrs, the McDaniel’s, Bill Renner, and how differently the house was run under each. Old photos are discussed in length for the majority of the interview. Mabel, Jessie, and Elizabeth attempt to identify the buildings and roads in the pictures, clarifying when and for what they were used. A few structures mentioned are the steel mill, the furnace, the stable, the trolley station, Catoctin Hollow Road, stave mill, and the store which Mabel’s father builds after he has to vacate and shut down the post office. Discussed in detail is the old stone church and the different religious leaders that headed it included Father Damuth, Reverend McGill, Dr. Treder, and Reverend Wolfe. Mentioned several times, throughout the interview, are laments about either the loss or lack of historical records.
Interviews on the News
Interview with Elizabeth Comer about the history of Catoctin Furnace and Spring in the Village: When Maryland Made Iron: Exploring the Furnace of Catoctin. First heard on Maryland Morning, WYPR 88.1 FM, May 7, 2013.
Interview with Elizabeth Comer about Catoctin Furnace history and people. First heard on To the Point, WTHU 1450 AM, April 27, 2013.

LiDAR Analysis

The Catoctin Furnace Historical Society has acquired LiDAR (Light Detection And Ranging) imagery for the area, and we are currently analyzing the data. LiDAR is a remote sensing technology whereby a target surface is measured by illuminating it with a laser and analyzing the reflected light, producing highly accurate maps of surfaces. With these maps, we can locate archaeological features over an expansive landscape that might not otherwise be visible. To the left is an image of the Catoctin Furnace area with highly visible roads (Catoctin Furnace Road and Route 15) and buildings.

 

Below is an image of "colliers pits" that were located using the LiDAR imagery. Such pits were used to produce charcoal to feed the furnace. Mounds of wood were carefully stacked and set into a pit, then ignited. Colliers would need to monitor the fire to ensure that it did not grow too big or go out.

XRF Research

Representatives from EAC/A, Inc. attended a workshop at the Smithsonian in Washington D.C. to learn how to use a handheld XRF (X-Ray Fluorescence) to determine the elemental composition of archaeological materials. We used materials from Catoctin Furnace to test our skills. The preliminary results of our research are here: XRF Results for Catoctin Furnace materials.


UPDATE: Using a Bruker Tracer, we have completed testing on samples from Catoctin Furnace, Gettysburg, and Cornwall. We are analyzing the results now and will update this information soon!