In the 1800s, Monroe NY was a hotbed for mining ore. It was the perfect location for mining because the rocks contained magnetite, a form of iron oxide with a high content of iron that could be mined easily. There were nearly unlimited quantities of wood available to make charcoal fuel. In addition, the area was lush with streams to provide the power required for sawmills and was close to the Hudson River for transport.
Typically, at that time, furnaces were made of stone and brick and were located near strong water sources at the foot of a hill. A bridge was built across to the top of the furnace to feed the furnace with fuel. Early furnaces were about 25 feet at the base and in height, and in later years, they could reach 55 feet in height.
Evidence of Monroe’s mining activity can still be found in various parts of the town. Located on the Orange Turnpike near Route 17 are the remains of the Southfield Furnace. It was operated during the 1800s, with the last date of operation (that I could find) listed as 1899. While the pictures are a bit difficult to make out since there are now a lot of trees in front of the furnace, the entire structure still remains, the bridge for delivery of fuel is still evident, and the stream still runs by.
Glimpses of Monroe’s past are still in evidence, as indicated above and in Monroe NY – Glimpses of the past: Monroe Tube Company.