2004 Field School & Industrial Archaeology Project-West Point Foundry
Michigan Technological University
Posting July 16, 2004 by Pat Baird

Summary of Week 9 at the West Point Foundry, 2004

With nine of the twelve weeks completed, the fourth year of Michigan Tech’s involvement with the West Point Foundry is rapidly drawing to drawing to a close. MTU Industrial Archaeology M.S. Candidates Erin Timms and Rachael Herzberg are researching the Blowing Engine and Boring Mill this summer to better understand the water power technology used to drive these vital operations in iron and ordinance production. New discoveries were made in both areas this week.

The excavation of the Blowing Engine is continuing slow but steady. No new units were opened here this week, but Pat Baird, Mike Deagan, Elizabeth Norris, and Erin Timms continued excavating three units on the north end of Blowing Engine. These units are filled with rock and brick rubble, making excavation difficult, but the units are approaching bedrock and should be completed early next week. The units are important because a water race from Foundry Brook runs through these units and under a large stone lintel in two of the units exposed last week. This race is probably the same one exposed two weeks ago in a deep unit on the south side of the Blowing Engine. Arron Kotlensky and Erin Timms have been busy at the south end of the Blowing Engine finishing up profiles and photographs of a deep unit that exposed the ends of two races to weeks ago, as well as part of several large iron hoops related to the engine’s cylinders.

At the Boring Mill, Ed Tennant and Paul White uncovered a grease pit below the likely location of a large wheel shown in historical photographs. The oil saturated subsoil revealed artifacts in like new condition, including timbers, iron and brass, and even a few scraps of newspaper. Suika Rivett finished the unit she was working on last week and opened a new area to expose the top of a brick machine base.

At the Boring Mill, excavators exposed a gear basemade of brick.

The full extent of the cylinder bands were exposed this week up at the Blowing Engine. SELECT ON PHOTOGRAPH TO ENLARGE

A view of Pat's excavation unit in the Blowing Engine showing the northern lintel.

Other events at the Foundry this week include visits by photographers from Scenic Hudson and American Archaeology magazine. The photographs for Scenic Hudson will be used for informational and promotional materials. American Archaeologist is preparing and article about Michigan Tech’s work at the West Point Foundry.

The crew woke up to pouring rain on Tuesday morning, so we visited the ----Clove Furnace, a blast furnace in Orange County, New York. This furnace is also known as the Greenwood Furnace #2. Owned by Robert Parrott’s brother Peter, it was the source of much of the pig iron used at the West Point Foundry after the final blast in the furnace in Cold Spring.

All in all, it has been an exciting summer at the Foundry, with a tremendous amount of data generated and features discovered. The next two weeks will be spent excavating the few remaining areas needed to address the research questions posed this summer, as well as completing documentation of the existing units. An open house the last weekend of July will keep the entire crew busy (10-3, rain or shine, Sat. July 31 & Sun. Aug 1). This will be followed by a week of frenzied backfilling to conclude the excavations this summer.

Pat Baird

Pat at the end of a long day, rolling equipment down from the Blowing Engine.


Department of Social Sciences, Michigan Technological University Houghton, MI 49931
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