Housatonic Heritage

Housatonic Heritage

Beckley Furnace has a close relationship with Housatonic Heritage, the umbrella organization that represents the Upper Housatonic Valley National Heritage Area.

We’re proud to publish the Iron Heritage Trail map and brochure! It’s free, available at Beckley Furnace, at any area Historical Society, at most libraries, and at many hotels, inns, and restaurants in our area.  We are also proud that Beckley Furnace is the centerpiece of this set of tours around our area.

The Iron Heritage Trail makes it easy to see important elements of our industrial and social history via nine separate suggested tours.  Each tour is a reasonable objective for a morning or afternoon, and each also provides opportunities for more study.

Here are the tours suggested in the brochure:

Tour I:  Beckley Furnace (that’s us!!).  No driving in this tour; we believe there’s enough at Beckley to keep nearly anyone interested and involved for a couple of hours.

Tour II: Beckley Furnace to Norfolk and Colebrook, CT

Tour III: Beckley Furnace to North Canaan, Falls Village, and Amesville, CT.

Tour IV:  Salisbury, Mount Riga, and Lakeville

Tour V: Lime Rock to Sharon

Tour VI:  Sharon, Cornwall, Kent, and Roxbury, CT

Tour VII: Amenia, NY to Clove Valley Ironworks, Beekman, NY

Tour VIII:  Millerton, NY; Copake, NY; Chatham, NY

Tour IX:  North Canaan, CT to Lanesborough, MA

The brochure also includes convenient articles about the discovery of the so-called Salisbury Ore, the blast furnaces of the Salisbury Iron District, and the natural local resources that made the Upper Housatonic valley area a natural one for the production of iron.

So you can spot it among all the other brochures vying for your attention, here’s what it looks like:

Iron Heritage Trail brochure
Iron Heritage Trail brochure



About this Project

This website began as a portion of a Girl Scout Silver Award Project undertaken in 2013 by two then-seventh grade girls named Eleanore and Helen.

The project began when they visited Beckley Furnace the summer before they entered seventh grade. They were fascinated by Beckley Furnace, and they thought that other people would be as well.  The Friends of Beckley Furnace, the not-for-profit organization that restored, maintains, and interprets Beckley Furnace, paid attention.  The interests of the girls and the interest of the Friends coincided perfectly; for years the Friends of Beckley Furnace have been trying to better inform people about Beckley Furnace and also about the iron industry in general.

While the girls originally proposed create a smartphone app to make the old Beckley website more portable and accessible, for a variety of reasons, including time constraints and the cost of building an Apple app as well as an Android app and maintaining them, the idea of creating a new website that would be as usable on mobile devices as on laptops and desktop computers emerged as a better alternative.

The girls started with the original  Beckley Furnace website, and from there they created an all new website based in WordPress and providing both the desired mobile capability and the capability of building educational and research resources that would be helpful to teachers, students, researchers — as well ordinary people who simply want to learn more about Beckley Furnace and the historical iron industry of the Upper Housatonic Valley.

The project quickly became more than “just a Girl Scout project.”  Based in part on the girls’ vision and their diligence, the Upper Housatonic Valley National Heritage Area undertook, with the aid of CT Humanities, a planning study about use of local history landmarks in teaching social studies (with Beckley Furnace as a case example).  Who knows where it will all lead!

The Girl Scout project that Eleanore and Helen conceived in 2013 has mushroomed to become a regional effort, with state and national support and participation — and we have only begun!

About this project
One of the website designers