Oregon Ridge Nature Center History

On land that is now Oregon Ridge Nature Center, there was a very active iron ore and marble mining operation during the mid-19th century. In order to process the iron ore efficiently and profitably, entrepreneurs built an iron-smelting furnace along Oregon Branch stream. The furnace operated from 1844 to 1858, and produced at its peak production 4,500 tons of pig iron annually.

An industrial village developed at the edges of the present day meadow just to the north of what is now the Nature Center. Workers lived in tenant houses (one of which has been reconstructed) conveniently located near the ore and marble pits and furnace complex. Many of the workers were Irish immigrants or emancipated slaves. Such towns as Oregon Ridge were common in the industrial northeast United States by the mid-19th century.

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