Dale Thomas. Thanks Dale.
a jrd page on 1/4/14
Airdrie Hill is a local historic place that has seen better times. It is a
difficult place to visit and thus, has very few visitors of the human kind. This
unique place would be easy to forget unless a person had actually been there. It
played such a big part in local history and is a shame that it was left alone for
the elements of nature to take it back down to the ground. It has been years since
I have visited, but I will never forget as long as this old brain can remember much
of anything. Actually, guess that I had thought that most others had forgotten
about Airdrie. Well, it turns out that Airdrie is still in the mind of some local
citizens. Dale Thomas and Gary Durham have visited Airdrie recently and have sent
a few pictures. They have shared some of their pictures with me and in this "Airdrie
Hill" section of the Rockport/Echols Web Site, I will share with you. I hope that
you will enjoy them. Some of us seniors are getting to the age now where an actual
"Hands On" visit may not be possible, thus a trip down memory lane, in pictures,
can be presented because of people like Dale and Gary. Thanks you two. It will
not necessarily be a virtual reality trip, but one that most of us can visualize
and reminisce about a time in history that most of us consider a time and place
Let me refresh the memory or those of you that have been to Airdrie Hill and to
present a little information on those of you that have never had the pleasure of
going to this century plus old relic of the past. Shirley Smith, in her book titled
"History Of Rockport And Echols", has dedicated a partial chapter on Airdrie Hill.
Interesting reading if you have access to her book.
In the year of 1850, Lord S. C. A. Alexander, a Scotchman, invested $350,000 in a
dream of his to build an iron ore foundry. He purchased several hundred acres of
Muhlenberg County land and proceeded to turn this wilderness area into a working
iron ore foundry. He selected an area, on the Green River, that held enough raw
materials to build the foundry, as well as a supply of iron ore, and a coal seam
with more than enough coal to fire the furnace and the powerhouse. The rock
formations in that area were plentiful and all that was needed was manpower to
transform the raw material into an iron ore smelter. Lord Alexander persuaded some
two hundred or more hard working and talented Scotchmen to join him in his endeavor.
A lot of these hard working Scotchmen were from an area in Scotland called Airdrie
and thus, this bluff area, above Green River, became known as Airdrie Hill. For
two years, or so, these miners, masons, carpenters, machinist, smelters, and other
craftsmen, needed for this unique undertaking, worked as a team and turned this
vast wilderness into a place where raw material could be mined and transformed
Some two years after construction started, a powerhouse, an iron ore furnace, an
equipment building, a large rock wall with rock steps from the base of the wall to
the top, and several houses were built on this site in Muhlenberg County, some four
miles above Rockport. Once construction was complete, it was time to fire the furnace.
The furnace failed to work correctly and after several attempts to fire this new
furnace, a section of the furnace wall, near the top, blew out. The furnace was
repaired and other attempts were tried to make this a working foundry. It was
just not to be and the foundry was shut down. With any new plant or manufacturing
process, some alterations, modifications, or process changes need to be made.
Instead of trying to make this process work, Lord Alexander became disinterested
and quit this dream to move to Lexington, Kentucky.
Where one failure occurs, an opening is sometimes left for another's dream. Airdrie
was just such a place. It was a beautiful place on the Green River. It was also
a failed project. When Lord Alexander relinquished his dream and moved on, an
area on the Green River would open for another man to pursue his dreams. It would
be only a few years later before a famous Union Army General would retire from the
army and move to Airdrie.
Thanks for looking.
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