Location: Ardis Furnace, Iron Mountain, MI

The Aardis Furnace was an early (1909) project aimed at improving low grade iron ore.



Claimed that it will permit of profitable treatment of low-grade iron ore

It is estimated by the best authorities that the high grade iron ores of the United States will not last more than 30 or 40 years. It is plain that the high grade ore bodies are becoming rapidly exhausted. This being true it is quite clear that it is destined that mankind will make a virtue of necessity and draw the iron supply for the world from the mother vein, which is an accompanying vein of great width and depth but of low grade.

It has been the life work of John T. Jones to make the low grade ore of the northern vein immediately available for public use. He is mining it and treating it with great success at his Ardis furnace at Iron Mountain, Mich.

The Ardis furnace produces a "muck bar" capable of being transformed into 39 per cent of pure iron, fit for any purpose with the exception of rails, which demand wearing qualities. From it may be made bar iron, pipes, nails, sheet iron, and all products in which iron is used.

There are as yet no factories to turn into the manufactured articles the products of the Jones Ardis furnace. These are yet to come and Menominee is conceded to be an ideal point for their location. It will require coal to reheat this much bar and to roll it into the finished product. It will be necessary to haul it to a point where vessels can upload coal direct. Menominee has not only exceptional advantages of transportation but with the completion of the Grand Rapids dam will have power facilities unequalled by any other city in the upper peninsula.

Nature has so lavishly opened itself out for the benefit of the people of this country that those who first gathered the harvest of good things were staggered by its abundance, and merely skimmed the surface; so much richness was in sight that men were content to pick out the best and forget all about the possible greater wealth left behind.

This is the history of the lumber industry, the history of the copper industry, and Mr. Jones proves it the history of the iron industry, for now he comes from an older generation, with a knowledge within him of the existence of the colossal fortunes buried in lean ores of iron, skimmed over and left behind by the mining companies, who sought only for the ore that would be acceptable upon the market, and undertakes the extraction of the iron from the lean ores so cheaply that it can be profitably marketed along with the steel products with which all are familiar, and at prices that will command favorable attention.

The men who take the waste and wasted things of this country, and utilize them, no matter how, so long as they are turned into something valuable and useful, are really the men who move mightily the things of this world, and surely John T. Jones is one of them.

[Duluth News-Tribune, 03-28-1909]


MARINETTE, Wis., Dec. 24--The Ardis furnace at Iron Mountain, Mich., the invention of John T. Jones of that city was tested today in the presence of 50 leading steel and iron men of the United States, Canada, and Mexico. Professor Crabtree of Pittsburg, expert of the Carnegie interests, witnessed the operations of the furnace. The Experiment was a success. The furnace takes lean ore, now considered worthless, and turns it into good pig iron. This was done with considerable lean ore today. A change will be made in the cupola and the final test will take place next month. The furnace will make millions of acres of iron ore land, now considered worthless, very valuable and is considered the greatest discovery in the iron industry for many years.

[National Labor Tribune, PA, December 29, 1910]

Time Line


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

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