Currently viewing the tag: "Maryland Iron Festival"

Blair Garrett

A local artist is making waves, adding a dash of color to parks and museums across the east coast.

Alyssa Imes, a Catoctin High School graduate and Emmitsburg resident, has been perfecting her craft for years, featuring her vibrant sculptures in various festivals and parks.

Imes has spread her art from Washington D.C. and Virginia, to Hagerstown, Maryland, and hopes to soon have one of her sculptures right here in Emmitsburg. Her art ranges from small pieces that make a statement to big and bold structures that brighten the area around them, and everything in between.

Imes also brought her talents to the Maryland Iron Festival in May, where she put her skills to the test for all to witness. She brought her own furnace to melt iron on sight, and poured it into scratch blocks for attendees to craft custom iron works.

The 2020 and 2021 Maryland Iron Festivals were held virtually, so it was a nice change of pace to have Imes and other art and iron enthusiasts be able to show guests this centuries-old way of producing things.

Outside of festivals, Imes has a wide array of sculptures she produces and sells. There are exciting things ahead in the career of this young artist. 

Imes received her Bachelor of Fine Arts from Shepherd University in 2018, and she recently completed her Master of Fine Arts in Sculpture at University of Maryland. So be on the lookout for big things from this talented local artist.

Her art is currently on display at the Frederick Arts Council Center in Frederick, and it will be available to see until mid-July. You can catch more of her works online at:

Designed and created by Alyssa Imes, “Winged Forces” is a 4-foot cement sculpture of a Monarch butterfly and a honeybee that stands at the traditional president’s residence at Shepherd University, where Imes graduated in 2018.

The first annual Maryland Iron Festival was held the weekend of May 18 and 19, 2019 in historic Catoctin Furnace, in Thurmont, Maryland, to celebrate the state as a center for the craft of ironmaking. Activities were held within the historic village, as well as Catoctin Mountain Park, and Cunningham Falls State Park. The festival featured traditional blacksmithing, casting and molding demonstrations in partnership with Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site, live music and performances, artists and craftspeople, spring plant and flower sales, children’s activities, a “feats of strength” tournament, tours of historic buildings and the iron furnace, delicious historic food, plein air artists, and local wine and craft beer.

Historic structures, such as the Collier’s Log House (ca. 1810) (pictured in background of our cover photo), the Stone Cottage (ca. 1820), and the Catoctin Iron Furnace were open to the public both days.

The newly constructed trail that was constructed and crafted by Catoctin Furnace volunteers with grant monies now links the furnace to the historic village. Visitors and locals enjoyed all facets of the festival. In our cover photo, Barry Riddle, Liam Deveney, Megan Deveney, Abbey Deveney (seated left to right) and Seamus Riddle and Matt Deveney (standing left to right) enjoyed the fresh streamside Catoctin Furnace Trail on Sunday, May 19.

The Catoctin Furnace was built by four brothers in order to produce iron from the rich deposits of hematite found in the nearby mountains. It played a pivotal role during the industrial revolution in the young United States. The furnace industry supported a thriving community, and company houses were established alongside the furnace stack. Throughout the 19th century, the furnace produced iron for household and industrial products. After more than 100 years of operation, the Catoctin Furnace ceased production in 1903.

In 1973, the Catoctin Furnace Historical Society, Inc., was formed by G. Eugene Anderson, Clement E. Gardiner, J. Franklin Mentzer, and Earl M. Shankle to “foster and promote the restoration of the Catoctin Furnace Historic District…and to maintain the same exclusively for educational and scientific purposes…to exhibit to coming generations our heritage of the past.”

Today, the Catoctin Furnace Historical Society, Inc. is undertaking groundbreaking research, including bioarchaeological research on human remains from the African American cemetery in Catoctin Furnace. In partnership with the Smithsonian Institution and the Reich Laboratory for Medical and Population Genetics at Harvard University, this project is analyzing ancient DNA and the human genome of several revolutionary-era African American workers at Catoctin Furnace. Such research, in conjunction with other technologies, such as stable isotope analysis, could tell us where these workers were born, where they lived throughout their lives, and what constituted their diet. We believe that every life mattered, and every past matters now. By studying and disseminating the results of this research, we hope that people everywhere will get to meet some of these early workers and understand the critical roles they played in the development of our young nation, as well as appreciate the rich, varied trajectories of their lives.

For more information, please call 443-463-6437 or visit