Slate Furnace

Kentucky’s oldest iron furnace helped win the War of 1812 down in New Orleans.

Slate Furnace, constructed in 1791 along Slate Creek near present-day Owingsville, smelted iron ore from local deposits for ten-gallon kettles, which were in high demand by the early pioneers. The pots allowed water to evaporate from the salt springs for salt, and to boil the sap of maple trees for sugar.

War production proved to be more lucrative.

In 1807, Colonel Thomas Deye Owings contracted to supply cannonballs to the American Navy. Ammunition was brought to Maysville via oxcart and then floated down the Ohio and Mississippi rivers. During the War of 1812, the Bourbon Iron Furnace supplied the Army Corps of Artillery with cannonballs, grapeshot, and canisters. Much of the product was floated down the Ohio and Mississippi rivers to New Orleans.

After 47 years of operation, the Slate Furnace made its last blast in August 1838.

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My grandmother lived about 6 miles from this furnace. We went there many times on picnics. It is still there but starting to crumble. I always loved it’s uniqueness.

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