Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Fuller/Laurel - 3

Pine Grove Furnace paymaster's office.  Workers went up one set of stairs,
signed for their pay at a table inside the door, and continued down the other stairs.

In 1830, Peter expanded his operation with the addition of the Laurel Forge, which heated and hammered the cast iron to produce wrought iron. An 1837 bankruptcy caused Ege to lose the iron works to Frederick Watts and his lawyer partner, Charles Penrose, at a sheriff sale. If you think wealth buying political influence and position is something new, consider that Watts became Commissioner of Agriculture under President Grant in 1871, and Penrose was state senator and Treasury Solicitor under President Harrison. On the plus side, in 1855, Watts used his money to found Penn State University.

Mules provided the power for most stages of the operation, making the stables
and shops an essential facility.  The store here now offers the famous pig trough
ice cream sundae that Appalachian Trail hikers consider an important milestone.

In 1864, Jay Cooke purchased the operation and brought in Jackson C. Fuller as operations manager, thus the name of Fuller Lake. Cooke is called the “Financier of the Civil War.” He raised $l.2 billion through the sale of Federal Treasury Notes. Today, this would be $32,584,000,000. By war’s end, just the small commission he got from each sale had made Cooke the wealthiest man in America.

The grist mill ground grain from nearby company farms.

Fuller Lake was an accident. When the iron works failed in 1895, Fuller Brick was created to use clay exposed in the 90-ft. deep quarry from which ore had been dug. The Pine Grove kiln could hold 12,000 bricks per firing. The brick works kept the company town alive until 1912. With all the natural springs and ground water in the mountains, a waterwheel was run continuously to draw water from the quarry and prevent its flooding. The wheel broke down, but was fixed. A fix wasn’t possible when it failed a second time, and, voila, Fuller Lake. It flooded so quickly that all the mining equipment remained at the bottom of the quarry. During this past winter, between a drought stopping normal ground runoff into the lake, and the seasonal stillness from lack of use, the lake water reached its all-time greatest clarity. Divers went to the bottom of the lake, and due to the cold water preserving everything so completely, they said the equipment looks much as it must have the day they stopped working, a hundred years ago.

This was the boarding house for those that wanted to stay and enjoy the
fishing, swimming, or hunting longer.  It is now the park's administrative offices.

In 1913, 17,000 acres, or 60-square miles of iron works land was sold to the state for $29,827 to create the Michaux State Forest. In 1933, Franklin Roosevelt had the Civilian Conservation Corps come in to provide work and training for young men 18-25 during the Great Depression. The crew of 200 started with a tent camp, then built barracks for themselves, the area roads, telephone lines, built the state park, and reforested the surrounding lands that had been stripped.

Perhaps conservation goes too far when this huge hornet nest is
left hanging outside the park office window.

In 1941, 250 acres of Bunker Hill Farm, one of the farms that had grown food and animal feed for the iron works and company town, was used for the construction of a prisoner-of-war camp. This was used for the holding and interrogation of German U-boat crews and Japanese prisoners until the end of the war in 1945.

The apple tree was buzzing with bees enjoying the beautiful blossoms.

 Today, here in Oklahoma, is a good day to hunker down.  The wind continues at 35 mph. with gusts today up to 45 mph. Forget keeping a canoe under control.  Even a screen door is a challenge.  This foolishness is supposed to continue every day for the next week.

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