About Beckley Furnace

Beckley Iron Furnace is maintained, researched and interpreted by the Friends of Beckley Furnace, Inc., a 501(c)(3) organization, in the State of Connecticut.  Beckley Furnace is Connecticut’s only designated Industrial Monument, and is a Connecticut State Park.

Beckley Furnace sign
Here’s the sign on Lower Road as you enter Beckley Furnace

Located on Lower Road in East Canaan, Litchfield County, CT, the site is open to visitors during daylight hours, 365 days a year.  When guides are not available, informative signage directs the visitor to the restored furnace stack, various artifacts of the iron making process, a Hercules-type turbine that powered the furnace, the dam in the Blackberry River that provided the water power for the dam, and a variety of other features of the site.

There are picnic tables for a quiet lunch, the pool below the dam is a popular site for getting one’s feet wet (NO lifeguard on duty), the fishing in the Blackberry River is said to be excellent, and a hiking trail leave the site headed up nearby Canaan Mountain.  There are no public sanitary facilities.  More about the facility and services available is here.

During summer months, the site is staffed on Saturdays from 10 AM until 2 PM by docents who are also members of the Friends of Beckley Furnace as well as interns who can provide extensive information about the site, its history, and its place in the historic iron industry of the Upper Housatonic Valley.

Need to contact us at The Friends of Beckley Furnace?  Drop us an e-mail at info@beckleyfurnace.org

Want to get involved?

While the State of Connecticut owns and operates Beckley Furnace as a State Park, a not for profit organization named The Friends of Beckley Furnace is responsible for interpreting the site for visitors.  The informative signage you’ll see at the Beckley site, explaining various parts of the furnace, other artifacts, and the overall location were prepared by this group, as was the popular Iron Heritage Trail brochure you’ll find in area historical societies, libraries, churches, restaurants, and other facilities.  The organization also provides informative tours on Summer Saturdays from 10 AM – 2 PM, and has in the past welcomed school groups for field trips. But none of that happens without people!

Adult volunteers:

The Friends of Beckley Furnace (FOBF) is a volunteer organization.  As such, we are dependent upon volunteers to serve as tour guides, and eventually to become board members.  We’re a friendly group, and we welcome others who would like to get involved — or think they might like to get involved.  Our Board of Directors has members who are in their 20’s and others in their 80’s — and at this time we particularly welcome volunteers who are recently retired (or are about to be) who may have time available during the day for such tasks as guiding school groups and other organizations that visit us on field trips.  If you would like to learn more about volunteer opportunities at Beckley, please e-mail the webmaster and let us know about your interest.

Internships:

The Friends of Beckley Furnace also offers paid summer internships to rising high school seniors, college students, and graduate students who want to learn a lot about the historic iron industry, make some money, and have the internship to list on college and grad school applications and your CV.   The internship is particularly attractive because it involves work on Summer Saturdays only — thus leaving time for other employment, summer coursework, or even other internships!  If you’re a high school or college instructor, you may want to bring this opportunity to the attention of students who might be interested.  And if you’re a student who is interested, don’t stand on formality: let us hear from you directly.  E-mail the webmaster — use the subject line INTERNSHIP — and we’ll be in touch.

 About this website:

Starting in the fall of 2013, two Girl Scouts named Eleanore and Helen visited Beckley Furnace, and decided that while it was definitely interesting, it could be a lot more appealing to younger visitors.  They told us a lot of their thoughts and then it dawned on them that they could actually do something about making them actually happen.  So, to earn their Girl Scout Silver Awards, they set forth on a path that included replacing the antique Beckley Furnace website with a new one written in WordPress (one that’s also usable on mobile devices).  They also created a Welcome video, which you can see on the home page (although we’re replaced it with a newer one), and did a post about making that video.

They also started creating new material about Beckley Furnace and the historic iron industry of the Upper Housatonic Valley for it.  Helen and Eleanore then transitioned back to being 8th graders, and one is about to receive her masters degree while the other has just graduated from college.  That was a long time ago, but the website they conceived and created continues to grow and expand.  Some of the growth is in directions they correctly anticipated, and some is in entirely new directions.

The Friends of Beckley Furnace are indebted to Eleanore and Helen for their insights and for all their hard work on this project.  We seriously hope that you — both of you — continue your involvement in Beckley Furnace and that you will accompany us in learning about and interpreting our historic iron industry.  You are the future!!

(See also our “About this Project” post, written when we initially introduced the new website.)

Girl Scouts looking out window
The ironmaster probably looked out this window at Beckley Furnace many times….

Back in those days, the girls paused for a look out the window of the ironmaster’s office toward the furnace itself.  No doubt, back when the works was operational, the ironmaster — and likely visitors, including the management of Barnum Richardson Company — looked out this window themselves.  We’ll have a post shortly about the administration building — fascinating in itself!

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