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Winding your way out of Massachusetts’s Mount Washington Forest, you’ll discover Copake Iron
Works, a tribute to the industrial age.
Visiting Copake Iron Works Blast Oven and Historical Site
We left Bash Bish falls, tired and sore from trekking in from the Massachusetts side, and headed for New York to visit the Copake Iron Works historical site. Why, you might ask, would New England travel bloggers be
heading into New York?
The answer is simple. When you live in New England, there are so many travel destinations within a few hour’s drive that it’s hard to resist the allure of a neighboring state, especially when you’re already in the area.
For a history lover, Copake Iron Works exerts its own irresistible draw. Located in what is now the Taconic State Park, the small roadside museum heralds the history of the industrial revolution as well as important
government initiatives to preserve land of geological significance for future generations.
Copake Iron Works is considered one of the most intact examples of late 19th century ironmaking, thanks in part to its signature centerpiece. The remains of the original blast furnace, partially restored from its deteriorating condition by volunteers and generous donations, is a reminder of our country’s growth from agriculture into the industrial revolution.
Several buildings and exhibits make up the site, including a museum taking up residence in the former machine shop. Here you will find an extensive history about the iron works as well as original artifacts from the area’s iron making history.
The Gothic-Revival style office building, once a residence of Isaac Chesbrough, an early ironmaster for the business, is also a part of the property as are former railroad beds and a cast iron heat exchanger.
Copake Iron Works History
By the mid-1800s, the young U.S. nation was booming, and iron was required to fuel its growth. Older ironworks founded nearly a century before were outdated and not up to the task of producing at the speed necessary to suit the burgeoning economy.
In 1845, Lemuel Pomeroy II selected Copake Falls, New York for a new modern facility. As it turns out, iron might have been necessary to fuel the nation, but timber was required to fuel the making of iron, and it was in great supply in the Copake Falls area.
Even more importantly, iron ore was also in abundance, so Pomeroy built his new facility downstream from Bash Bish falls, relying on water power to fuel the operation.
By 1923, the modern Copake facility was eclipsed by newer and more modern plants throughout the ountry. Copake Iron Works was closed and left to sit empty and decaying.
Eventually, the forest reclaimed the site until 1926 when the state of New York, under the direction of Franklin D. Roosevelt, began a program to preserve lands of significance for public enjoyment. The state acquired the land as part of the formation of the Taconic State Park.
Get the Details Before You Go
Copake Iron Works is located in Copake Falls, New York and is open year round, dawn to dusk, for self-guided tours. According to the Friends of Copake Iron Works, the onsite museum is open weekends from 2:00 to 4:00 pm, Memorial Day through Mid-November.
On our first visit, a week day in early April, we were able to tour the diorama room and watch an informative video. Weekends, however, are the best time to visit Copake Iron Works.
Volunteers staff the museum in the afternoon. We spent over an hour during our second visit chatting with friendly and knowledgeable staff about the history of the iron works and the area in general.
On weekends, you'll also get an up close and personal view of the blast furnace. The gates are opened and hard hats are provided if you want to get a closer inspection.
Coming in from a hike to Bash Bish Falls on both visits, we especially appreciated that Copake Iron Works was pet friendly. They offer water for dogs and allow them to enter the museum.
You’ll also find a 3-mile walking tour taking you past former rail beds, original worker lodging cabins and other features of historic significance to the site.
Copake Falls, NY
15 minutes to 1.5 hours
THINGS TO DO NEARBY
Bash Bish Falls
EXPLORE WITH US
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