We had a great time last night in Bakersville at our Mitchell County and the Civil War discussion. For those in the area, we are doing a similar program in Avery County on November 10 – 6:30 pm at the library in Newland.
One of our visitors last night brought up some questions about iron mines in the Confederacy during the war. Our friend believed that Cranberry ranked second behind the mines in Birmingham, Alabama, for production of iron ore during the war. From my research, I know that iron ore was mined in Cranberry during the war, but only on a small scale, the problem of transportation keeping it from being more productive. According to the family who operated the mine during the war, only one wagon load of ingots was transported a month to the railhead near Morganton.
So, this led me a round of research this morning into iron mines in North Carolina during the war. At the start of the war, there were more than 100 iron furnaces and bloomeries in the South.
I found a long list of localities that were mined in North Carolina during the war. These include, but are probably not limited to:
Bloomery Mine, Nash County
Ore Hill, Chatham County
A mine near Asheboro which produced some of the “most highly prized iron obtained during the war…”
Costner Mine – Lincoln County
Oremond Mine – Gaston County
Widow Bailey Place – Lincoln County
Rodgers Mine – Stokes County
William Ore Bank – Yadkin County
John A. Allen plantation near Mocksville.
Davidson River Iron Works – Henderson County.
Cranberry Iron mines – Mitchell (now Avery) County
So which ones were the largest? I’m not sure. I do know that the Bloomery Mine and the Ore Hill Mine were Confederate operations, meaning, they were run by the Confederate government to some extent. In October 1861, the Fayetteville Observer reported that the Ore Hill Mine was producing 15 tons per week. In 1857, the Cranberry Mines were producing 17 tons a year.
Just another forgotten aspect of a very large conflict.