• Catoctin Mountain

    Catoctin Mountain

    Park Maryland

Charcoal Industry

From 1776 to 1873, the production of charcoal was a big business in the Catoctin area employing over 300 woodcutters and using timber from 11,000 acres of company land. Charcoal fueled the Catoctin Iron Furnace which separated out the iron from the raw iron ore.

The process of charcoal making started with the woodcutters, who entered a forest and cut down almost every living tree. Only one or two trees were left to reseed the forest. The logs were then carried using horse or mule drawn sleds to the charcoal makers who would build hearths to make charcoal.

Watch the video below to learn about the charcoal industry at Catoctin. Once you've finished watching it, answer the questions below to complete this activity.


Question 1. How long was making charcoal for the Catoctin furnace one of the main economic activities for the area?

A. About a hundred years

B. Ten years

C. One year


Question 2. How many acres of trees did an active furnace burn through in a year?

A. 500

B. 50

C. 5


Question 3. How long did the colliers (charcoal makers) let the fires smolder in the charocal hearths?

A. 1 day

B. 1 week

C. 2 to 3 weeks


Question 4. What did the colliers (charcoal makers) live in?

A. A house

B. Wood shacks

C. Tents


Did You Know?

Pileated Woodpecker on a tree in the Catoctin forest.

Pileated Woodpeckers are the 2nd largest woodpecker in North America. Male has a red ‘moustache’ and the female has a black 'moustache'. Lifespan in the wild can be 8-12 years. The pileated is the only member of the woodpecker family that drills an oval-shaped hole.