The Catoctin Iron Furnace represents a case of freedom seekers connected to industrial slavery in Maryland. The Johnson brothers built the Furnace and Manor House in the late 1770s, and began making iron in 1776. At that time, the Johnson brothers -- James, Thomas, Roger, and Baker, were the largest owners of enslaved persons in Frederick County, MD, and employed both additional enslaved labor and freemen as necessary to fill production orders. There is evidence of enslaved labor until at least 1848, and several of these workers were buried in a graveyard that was relocated due to construction of US Rt. 15 in the early 1970s. Period newspaper advertisements provide evidence of at least one freedom seeker in 1780, and of a kidnapping of a freeman's son by a Caucasian man in the 1800's. After the Johnsons retired from the iron industry, the Catoctin Iron Furnace went through several owners and technological changes and continued to operate until 1903. Today, the only remains of the facility are a large inoperable charcoal-fired stone furnace called "Isabella," a recreated casting shed, a large retaining wall, and the ruins of the Furnace Master's manor house.
Visitor Information: Currently open to public.
Location: 13102 Catoctin Mountain Highway, Thurmont, 21788
National Park Unit: No
Ownership: Lt. Cynthia Ecker
Location Type: Site
Freedom Seekers: Phil (MD, 1780)