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.
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2 minutes, 31 seconds

Archeology of the Charcoal Industry


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


Last updated: April 10, 2015

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