The Fitchburg Furnace is the world’s largest charcoal iron furnace and the last to be built in Kentucky. Fred Fitch designed it, and Sam Worthley, a stone mason from Scotland, completed construction in 1869. The structure incorporated the latest design technology and was state of the art in its time. The twin stacks were built of local sandstone using traditional dry laid stone masonry, and today is counted among the top dry masonry projects in the world. The massive structure stands 81 feet long, 40 feet wide, and 60 feet high. A number of innovative features first used at this furnace were later taken up by modern furnaces.
In 2001, a group of concerned individuals associated with Aldersgate Camp & Retreat Center, the land owner surrounding the 1.96 acre Federal property, started discussing the deteriorating condition of the Fitchburg Furnace. Local interest quickly grew into the non-profit organization known today as “The Friends of the Fitchburg Furnace”. Since 2001, the organization has worked with representatives from the local, state, and federal governments and experts from around the world in funding and completing archeology studies, historical research, and a major stabilization project at the site.
Today, the Fitchburg Furnace serves as a regular stop for visitors from near and far who are looking for a place to picnic, who want to step into the rich history of eastern Kentucky, and who marvel at the incredible engineering and technological accomplishments of previous generations. Come and experience the richness of Kentucky’s iron heritage, and join us as we share in this historic marvel!