Location: Elk Rapids Iron Company, MI

ElkRapidsIronCompanyFurnace 1910The Elk Rapids Iron Company was one of the nation's greatest producers of charcoal iron. The plant was 47' high and 12' in diameter. The first blast of iron occurred in June,1873. The furnace was constructed by the logging firm of Dexter and Noble. Hardwood was converted to charcoal to fire the furnace and iron ore was brought in from the upper peninsula by lake freighter. The furnace was the town's major employer until World War I when nearby forests were depleted.

The furnace was located just north of the village on Ames Street, east of US-31. [MMKR]


Time Line

1873. An iron company has just completed a charcoal furnace at Elk Rapids, with a capacity of about 30 tons of pig iron per day. [PHTH-1873-0703]

1911. The Elk Rapids furnace, at present owned by The Lake Superior Iron and Chemical Company, is located on the Pere Marquette Railroad at Elk Rapids. Michigan. The furnace proper has been out of blast since early in the spring of 1911. Since that time, however. remodeling changes have been going on and it is very probable that the early spring will see the furnace in operation again.

The stack itself is 64' high and it has a 12' 6" bosh. The throat is 7’ in diameter and the hearth is 6' 3½" deep and 7' 6" in diameter. Connected to the furnace are two iron stoves, one is 18' x 28' and another 18' x 24'; each one has 21 pipes. There is one Weimer blowing engine having a capacity of 8,000 cubic feet per minute, also there is one old engine with a capacity of from 5,000 to 6,000 cubic feet per minute. Power is derived for the running of the blowing engines, pumps, etc., by four return type tubular boilers of 100 H. P. each.

Located close to the furnace are 60, 60-cord beehive charcoal kilns. These make the charcoal used in the blast furnace and likewise furnish the volatile gases from which the chemicals such as wood alcohol and calcium acetate are obtained. [From ISIS-1911]


The following sources are utilized in this website. [SOURCE-YEAR-MMDD-PG]:

  • [AAB| = All Aboard!, by Willis Dunbar, Eerdmans Publishing, Grand Rapids ©1969.
  • [AAN] = Alpena Argus newspaper.
  • [AARQJ] = American Association of Railroads Quiz Jr. pamphlet. © 1956
  • [AATHA] = Ann Arbor Railroad Technical and Historical Association newsletter "The Double A"
  • [AB] = Information provided at Michigan History Conference from Andrew Bailey, Port Huron, MI

Contact Us

Invalid Input

Invalid Input

Invalid Input

Invalid Input

Invalid Input

Invalid Input

Email: webmaster@michiganrailroads.com