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East Canaan home to Connecticut's historic 'Iron Trail'

Many may not know it, but Connecticut’s northwest corner was bustling with industry 150 years ago. News 12 Photojournalist Lori Golias teamed up with naturalist Mark Fowler from Grace Farms Foundation to look back at this region’s rich iron history, and how it changed the landscape over the years.

News 12 Staff

May 13, 2021, 5:09 PM

Updated 1,161 days ago

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Many may not know it, but Connecticut’s northwest corner was bustling with industry 150 years ago. News 12 Photojournalist Lori Golias teamed up with naturalist Mark Fowler from Grace Farms Foundation to look back at this region’s rich iron history, and how it changed the landscape over the years.
Part of East Canaan on the lower road along the Blackberry River is where the Beckley Furnace Industrial Monument is located. The remains of what was once a large complex is actual blast furnace itself, and it’s been restored.
Fowler says workers 150 years ago were making some of the most important iron in the entire country.
The furnaces were belching smoke and flame as they were casting cannons for the Colonial Navy.
The furnaces were also making the train wheels that would bring U.S pioneers out west.
The finest railroad wheels were made from Salisbury iron ore, Great Mountain Forest Director Starling Childs says.
A dam was also used in the area, with water that would turn the turbines inside the factory.
"Turbines were used to pump the bellows to put the blast furnace into a good high heat," Childs says.
Fowler says it was enough energy to melt the iron out and produce iron ingots.
The area has earned the nickname the Iron Trail, which is part of the Connecticut Forest and Parks Association. The trail goes up and over Canaan Mountain. It's also considered one of the most remote spots in Connecticut.
"Thousands of acres with no roads and no people, and what’s beautiful, is my friend Star Childs and his family preserved 6,000 acres of the Great Mountain Forest right here - and helped create this with the state of Connecticut," Fowler says.
The Iron Trail is 4 miles each way.


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