20th Anniversary

Our 20th Anniversary….

2016 is the 20th Anniversary of the founding of the Friends of Beckley Furnace, and of the Preservation of the Furnace.

In this special year:

During this year, we’ll be sharing with you photos and other artifacts from Beckley’s past, as well as those relating to the preservation efforts themselves.  We’ll bring you recollections of those who were most closely involved in saving this structure — and the whole Beckley complex — from the effects of the passage of time. We have a few special projects in the works as well, including events you’ll want to attend.

You’ll see more here soon about these activities, so come back often!

But we’ll keep doing:

Of course, during the year we’ll continue to do what we do all the time and have done for the past 20 years:

–Offer our summer Saturday guided tours.

–Welcome visiting school groups, historical societies, and other groups with presentations and tours targeted to their interests.

–Add resources to this website about the history of Beckley Furnace, the iron industry, and our place in the world of the Upper Housatonic Valley and the world.

–Research our site and our area to learn more about how iron was made here — and what else went on here as well.

–Support initiatives in teacher education.

–Create media, especially video, to make the history clearer and easier to understand.

–Collaborate with other organizations, like the Falls Village/Canaan Historical Society, the Upper Housatonic Valley National Heritage Area, the Salisbury Association, and a host of others.


First school visit of the year!

We’ll be the first to admit that February is the earliest we can remember having a first school visit of the year here at Beckley Furnace, but we did that today!

The third grade of Salisbury Central School joined us — despite temps in the 20s — for a bit over an hour of exploration of the furnace and environs as well as discussion of the process of making iron here at Beckley Furnace.  On hand were four experienced leaders:  Ed Kirby, Cliff Waldow, Dick Paddock, and Geoff Brown, and, as well as the teachers, the SCS contingent was accompanied by Lou Buccieri.

The kids split into two groups of around 15 each, and while one group learned about what goes into making

SCS grade 3 2016
One of the groups viewing the photos this morning….

iron (ore, limestone, charcoal), and what comes out (pig iron and slag — more about slag later) and went to visit the new hydraulic turbine exhibit, the other group learned about the iron industry in the tri-state area and viewed real photos of iron workers, furnaces, and mines as they appeared in the old days, and then had a hands-on tour of the furnace itself.  Then the two groups changed places and we repeated the program for them.

Sadly, the weather had left us with about an inch of snow on the slag pile — always a highlight of school visits (and, in fact, most visits) — that made looking for slag samples to take home something we were able to leave out, especially since the open face of the slag heap faces north.  The teachers tell us that the kids will view the video about slag when they get back to school, and many of the kids told us that they planned to bring their parents and siblings back for a visit to Beckley when the weather is a little better.

If you happen to see this and wonder if your school group (or other group) might enjoy a visit to Beckley Furnace, please let us know!  More information about visits for school groups is here.

Today … and afterwards

Today, Saturday, October 11, is the last scheduled Saturday this year for our experienced guides to be at Beckley to show you around, explain how things worked (and occasionally didn’t), and answer your questions about Beckley Furnace, the historic iron industry of the  Upper Housatonic Valley, and the ways it affected our nation and the world.

However, it’s a little chilly, and while there’s nothing wrong with that, it’s also raining.  If it keeps raining through the 10 AM – 2 PM period we normally staff the furnace, we suspect we’ll stay home.  If the rain moves on — and it well may do that — likely you will find a guide there to help you.

We do need to say that even though regular staffing by our experienced volunteer guides ends today, Beckley is still a great place to visit when weather permits.  First of all, unlike its appearance when it was a working blast furnace, it’s a beautiful spot — and a Connecticut State Park!  Secondly, there are many explanatory signs scattered around the Beckley site that provide explanations and diagrams.  (Yes, occasionally our guides DO get informed by visitors that they would rather do it themselves, using these signs!)  And finally, you can get additional information while you’re visiting via this website!  We don’t have the site blanketed by wifi (that’s coming in the future) but there is a strong cell signal everywhere on the site, so you can look things up via your smartphone or tablet.

We continue to welcome school groups and other groups — there’s information elsewhere on this website about how to arrange for a group visit — and can produce guides who can present material tailored to your group’s interests and level of sophistication.

Watch this website (and our Facebook page, http://facebook.com/beckleyfurnace) for more news and plans for the future of Beckley.  And, of course, we’ll be back in the spring!