The visitor center is a great first stop to orient visitors to the park. The air-conditioned oasis provides information about upcoming activities, tours, and answers questions visitors may have about the park.
Places within Saugus Iron Works
The museum is filled with artifacts from archaeological site excavations throughout the park property. The museum contains moving models that help people understand how different waterwheels powered different tools. Visitors can view the park movie in the auditorium within the museum which runs throughout the day.
17th century house located in Saugus Iron Works. Tours are limited to 8 people per tour, so reservations are made in person at the visitor center.
Typically herb gardens in the 17th century were planted in geometric patterns like rectangles, circles, etc. Our garden is a free-flowing garden that contains herbs that were commonly grown in the Massachusetts area.
Using charcoal as its fuel, the Saugus blast furnace roared to life in 1646 and smelted locally-mined bog ore and gabbro into cast iron "pig" bars, ingots of iron that would be further processed in the forge to make wrought iron. A more fluid, "gray iron" was also poured into molds to make pots, kettles, skillets, firebacks and salt-pans as a finished product.
Carbon was removed from pig bars in the forge. A five-hundred pound hammer was used to forge a hot ball of iron into wrought iron "merchant bars". These bars were sold to merchants and blacksmiths for manufacture into finished products such as axes, hammers, hardware, and fireplace tools.
From its earliest production iron workers dumped slag waste from the smelting process over the bulkhead and into the Saugus River. The slag is an important resource and documents iron production at Saugus through over 20 years of production.
Some merchant bars were reheated and flattened through rollers. Blacksmiths made cart and wagon tires, axes, hinges, and saw blades from the flat bar. Flat bar could be further processed through slitters to produce thin strips of metal for making nails or horse shoes.
Shallow draft boats made their way up and down the tidal Saugus River transporting raw materials in and finished products out. Goods loaded at the Saugus dock were brought to Boston where the iron cargo was transferred onto ships that were destined for other parts of Massachusetts, London, and even Barbados.
Blacksmiths around Massachusetts forged wrought iron and steel into tools and hardware. Blacksmiths typically present demonstrations on the weekends in the modern blacksmith shop.
The Saugus River was the key to the operations of the iron works. Today you can explore the river on a nature trail where you may see a large variety of birds, furry mammals, and maybe a giant snapping turtle!
Last updated: October 15, 2016