By James A. Mulholland
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At the finery hearth, a pig was slowly fed into a charcoal fire. The high-carbon iron melted and dripped down into a pool on the hearth, some carbon being burned away as it melted and passed through the air. The process was repeated a second time and a third, after which, because the melting point had been raised with the removal of Saugus Ironworks Restoration, Forge Shop and Rolling Mill This view of the restoration of America's first major ironworks shows the stacks for the two refinery hearths and a waterwheel for a trip hammer on the left.
As early as 1641, a growing concern over the financial plight of the colonists prompted the General Court of the colony to pass laws to increase existing domestic manufacture and resolutions to encourage new ventures. Among the latter was the promise of a twenty-one-year grant of exclusive rights to the discoverer of any mine. The emphasis was on promoting any commodity suitable for export, including mica or graphite (black lead), in addition to metals, with the products to be shipped, preferably, directly to EnglandY By 1641, when the resolution was issued, it appears that several promising iron ore deposits had been identified, including those soon to be opened at Saugus and Braintree.
Edward Neal Hartley has shown that the erection of a furnace for even £1,300 would have been an exceptional feat considering the high labor costs and the need to import skilled workmen and materials. 51 Some distance from the furnace at Braintree, a forge was constructed that cost nearly as much as the furnace installation. When the furnace was abandoned in 1647 for lack of ore, the forge remained in operation to process ingot coming from a new blast furnace erected by the undertakers on the Saugus River at Lynn.