Historic America

Saugus Iron Works National Historic Site

Founded by John Winthrop the Younger, future governor of Connecticut and son of Massachusetts Bay Colony founder John Winthrop, the Saugus Iron Works was the birthplace of the American iron and steel industry. In operation from 1646 to 1670, incredibly the iron works sat overgrown with weeds and brush for nearly three centuries.

In the first English colonies in North America, iron had to be imported from Europe, despite an abundance of natural resources. John Winthrop recognized the potential of a native iron works and set out to raise capital. The first site chosen for the project proved not to be adequate, so a new location was chosen on the Saugus River.

The Hammersmith Works, as it was called, consisted of a blast furnace, forge, 500-pound hammer, and a rolling and slitting mill. Mismanagement and legal trouble doomed the works, despite producing a ton of cast iron a day, and it closed in 1670.

A local historical society placed a plaque at the site in 1898, but it was forgotten. By the 1940s, preservationists hired an archaeologist to locate it. Once found, they diligently reconstructed the iron works and it opened to the public in 1954. The National Park Service took control of the site in 1968.

Saugus Iron Works National Historic Site is located at 244 Central Street in Saugus, Massachusetts. It is free to the public and open May through October, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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