Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The Vinton Iron Furnace Bridges

Photos: Heinz Raidel, 2008

These photos show a pair of Pratt pony trusses located over Elk Fork near the Vinton Iron Furnace historic site in Vinton County. The road and bridges are abandoned and deteriorated on land owned by Mead Timber, Inc. They are accessible by walking from the bypass road (TH-7).

The Vinton Furnace started production using the charcoal process to produce pig iron in 1854. The charcoal furnaces later switched to use coal in the original furnaces. In 1873 a “modern” plant consisting of 24 ovens was constructed on the site. It ceased operation in 1883 presumably as a result of high sulphur content of the local coal. Parts of the stack and foundations still exist but there is a lot of overgrowth that threatens these remains.

The bridges appear to be younger than the 1883 closing date of the Vinton Iron Furnace. Likely they were not abandoned because of closing of Vinton Furnace but as a result of a subsequent repositioning of Mead Road (also called Stone Quarry Rd and TH-7) to a more circuitous route to the east in order to avoid crossing Elk Fork. Examination of a road map shows the bridges are on the more direct route likely taken by the original road.