The Catoctin Furnace Historical Society won three grants related to historical preservation in November. The Heart of the Civil War Heritage Area Mini Grant will fund the purchase of a 27 foot historically accurate marquee tent for outdoor events. The second grant is from the Delaplaine Foundation to perform a traffic calming feasibility study, and the third is a federal earmark to supply matching funds for the restoration of an original ironworker cottage.

Saving A Historic Ironworker Cottage

The historical society purchased the 200+ year old Miller House in December 2021 for $229,000 to save it from modern renovation, and with funding will restore the log worker cottage to its original condition. The restoration will be undertaken by historic building professionals alongside students from Heritage at Work, a training program in preservation and building trades for at-risk youth. Once completed, the Miller house will become a residence for Catoctin Furnace’s new Furnace Fellows program, in which emerging professionals will spend a year living and working in the historic village while being mentored in heritage tourism, museum management, and hands-on historic preservation.

21st Century Safety in an 18th Century Streetscape

Between 2022 and 2023, Catoctin Furnace saw a 2,474 percent increase in visitors, including several major events and visits from thousands of school children each year. To address their safety, CFHS needs to find solutions to slow traffic and increase pedestrian, bicycle, and vehicular safety along Route 806, the sole narrow historic village roadway. The seven historic sites that make up the area are situated on both sides of the road which lacks sidewalks and crosswalks. The Delaplaine Foundation grant will fund a feasibility study to assess pedestrian, bicycle, and vehicular safety, traffic calming, and improve pedestrian access between the public sites and private residences. The study will provide information for the state to use to plan and implement safety measures along the roadway.

History and Present Day Role of Catoctin Furnace

The iron furnace at Catoctin played a pivotal role during the American Revolution and later the industrial revolution in the United States. Throughout the 19th century, the furnace produced iron for household and industrial products. After more than 100 years in service, Catoctin Furnace ceased production in 1903.

Founded in 1973, the Catoctin Furnace Historical Society is undertaking groundbreaking research, including bioarchaeological research of the African American cemetery. In partnership with the Smithsonian Institution and the Reich Laboratory for Medical and Population Genetics at Harvard University, CFHS is analyzing ancient DNA and the human genome of revolutionary era enslaved African American workers at Catoctin Furnace. By studying and disseminating the results of this research, we hope to give everyone, including the descendants of the enslaved workers, the opportunity to understand them and the critical roles they played in the development of our young nation.

The Catoctin Furnace Historical Society shares the history of ironmaking through special events throughout the year including an annual commemoration of black history month’s “In Their Own Voices,” an autumn performance of Spirits of the Furnace, now in its 21st year, and the Maryland Iron Festival. The 6th Annual Maryland Iron Festival will take place on Saturday, May 18 and Sunday, May 19, 2024 in the village of Catoctin Furnace, and throughout Cunningham Falls State Park and Catoctin Mountain Park.

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