Nature Is Reclaiming This One Abandoned West Virginia Spot And It's Actually Amazing
The woods here in this small slice of Coopers Rock State Forest are quiet. The young trees grow in peace. But it hasn’t always been so. Once upon a time, this quiet woodland scene was a hotbed of activity — mining activity. The Henry Clay Furnace, now abandoned and overgrown, once operated 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to process all the iron ore mined in the area.
For just over a dozen years, from 1834 to 1947, the Henry Clay Furnace (and the approximately 200 people who kept it running) produced about four tons of iron every single day.
(Do the math; that's about 38 million pounds of iron produced in those 13 years!)
Once produced, pretty much all of that massive amount of iron was floated down the Cheat River for distribution.
Can you imagine what a thriving, bustling place this patch of now quiet woods must have been during that period of production?
Wooden railed tramways running in toward the furnace from all directions, bringing ore. Loggers felling trees in ever-widening circles around the furnace, to keep its fire blazing. A store, a church, a schoolhouse, and about 100 homes clustered around the furnace, all serving the community of men, women, and children bound together by this single unassuming structure.
That was the power of the Henry Clay Furnace, the very same that now lies long abandoned and largely forgotten. Yet even though it's not anywhere near the bustling hub it once was, Henry Clay Furnace in West Virginia is still well worth a visit.
Find it along the Clay Run Trail, a 3.3-mile out-and-back trail in Coopers Rock State Forest that's accessible year round.
Come see how Mother Nature has reclaimed this furnace for her own, plying at it with the tools of her trade: vines and roots and young sapling tree trunks. And, while such overgrowth has destroyed the function of this once productive furnace, it has also added a unique, soft beauty to this old industrial landmark.
After hiking to
Henry Clay Furnace, stop in for a sweet treat from Almost Heaven Desserts & Coffee at nearby Cheat Lake.
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Henry Clay Furnace, Clay Furnace Trail, Masontown, WV 26542, USA