Exploring Alabama’s Muscoda Mines & Ensley Furnaces Works

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by DeBandi, Feb 10, 2008.

  1. DeBandi

    DeBandi Exploring Alabama

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2006
    Oddometer:
    3,289
    Location:
    Blount Springs, AL
    Unfortunately, in our fast-paced, digital society, so much of the nation’s incredible industrial heritage is all but forgotten and consumed by urban sprawl and development.

    Ride with me for a few minutes while we examine two locations that played a pivotal role in building the industrial backbone of this great nation.


    We are at the Muscoda Site. The name Muscoda was derived from Indian artifacts discovered at the location. The Smith Mining Company originally opened this facility in 1881. TCI (Tennessee Coal, Iron and Railroad Company) purchased the property in 1899. The site housed as many as six mining operations.

    This is the original Shop Building No. 4 completed in 1903.

    [​IMG]



    This is the Electric & Carpenter Shop.

    [​IMG]


    The following images are of the Engine House at No. 4. The early 1900’s architectural detail in these structures is fascinating.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    A ventilation shaft.

    [​IMG]




    Muscoda was situated on the best workable ore on all of Red Mountain & was producing 500 tons a day in 1894. One of the actual mine entrances at Muscoda dated 1932.


    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    Images of the Bathhouse.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    The Original Railroad bed on the way to location No. 5

    [​IMG]



    This is the actual smokestack at No. 5 Mine. This location was a limestone mining operation.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    An industrial ruin brick smokestack is a rare site to see. Most have been salvaged for their brick.



    This photo shows the facility in operation and the smokestack can be seen.

    [​IMG]



    The Muscoda facilities supplied iron ore and limestone to the TCI Open-Hearth furnaces located at the Ensley Furnaces Works until 1961.




    Ensley Furnaces Works began operations in 1886.



    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    This location produced many of the rails that built this great nation.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]



    By 1920 this facility played a major role in producing some fifty percent of the steel that came from the south.

    And, by 1926 this operation produced 590,000 tones of steel rail.

    These facilities employed as many as 28,000 people in the 1950s.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    Two locomotives still remain at the site.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]



    An ore rail car located in the Wylam community just outside of Ensley.


    [​IMG]



    The final images show the Ensley Furnaces Works in operation.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    The Ensley Furnaces Works were phased-out of operation in 1978.
    #1
  2. scottr

    scottr Banned

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2006
    Oddometer:
    1,768
    Location:
    Pedernales R., Tx Hill Country (Ihadthisavatar1st)
    Great report. Enjoyed it. Good pics. :thumb

    I'm surprised folks aren't salvaging all those wonderful materials out of those old buildings. The huge trusses you show in one interior shot were very nice. Probably the owners of the property just don't care enough to sell off the salvageable materials.
    #2
  3. zookster

    zookster Chupacabra

    Joined:
    May 11, 2007
    Oddometer:
    976
    Location:
    Alabama
    fantastic report, dave. great photos. i've been by the ensley site numerous times, but never went down that ramp into the facility. one of my co-worker's husband worked there in the sixties when it was part of u.s. steel/usx.
    #3
  4. Watercat

    Watercat . . . gravity sucks

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2006
    Oddometer:
    1,879
    Location:
    Beervanastan, Duwamps Pacific NorWet
    Hey DeBandi,

    Obviously I'm very far removed from 'Bama and your excellent Ride Reports, but the historical/cultural value is astounding (to me) . . . . . .

    I'd like to say Thank You for all of your interesting posts revealing the late/great industry that your region provided to the rest of this country.

    I've read all of your ride reports on these amazing industrial/historic sites in your territory, so my questions for you are:

    1) What (if anything) is your state Gov't doing to preserve these sites ? ? ? ? ?

    2) Could you submit these photos/posts as evidence to your state legislature to preserve what remains of your state's heritage, or is this just not even in the cards at this juncture ? ? ? ? ?

    IMHO - It would be sad to let these sites further degrade and just disappear to nothingness, but if they're privately owned perhaps there's nothing that will prevent that from happening -

    Just a thought.
    #4
  5. GSBS

    GSBS FunHog

    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2005
    Oddometer:
    4,021
    Location:
    Mentone, AL
    ...Dave, as usual!

    Wish I could've gone with you.
    #5
  6. Southpawman

    Southpawman Overpowered by Funk

    Joined:
    Dec 8, 2006
    Oddometer:
    280
    Location:
    Lower Alabama - The original L.A.
    Great report, DeBandi, and great pics! :clap Pretty crappy weather we had this weekend, wasn't it? :lol3
    #6
  7. jakewojo

    jakewojo Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2006
    Oddometer:
    138
    Location:
    Cincinnati
    Great Report. I love the old abandoned industrial sites. Thanks for the history:clap .
    #7
  8. Southpawman

    Southpawman Overpowered by Funk

    Joined:
    Dec 8, 2006
    Oddometer:
    280
    Location:
    Lower Alabama - The original L.A.

    You want to tear them down for commercial gain?!?!? :huh
    #8
  9. mel brooks

    mel brooks Dirt Chick

    Joined:
    Nov 3, 2006
    Oddometer:
    1,708
    Location:
    Upstate SC
    Another great historical report DeBandi!

    I'm amazed that your area still has such sites. Around here, the big commerce machine would have razed them for more subdivisions years ago.

    Why did the operation cease production in '78?
    #9
  10. GB

    GB . Administrator Super Moderator Super Supporter

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2002
    Oddometer:
    67,205
    Thanks for the tour and the pics :thumb
    #10
  11. Staxrider

    Staxrider dirt dauber

    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2005
    Oddometer:
    2,047
    Location:
    Fourth Chickasaw Bluffs

    Another great report. I like your attention to recording the details of the buildings. In the two images above the windows have different window construction techniques one using an arch, the other with a square header. I remember reading somewhere that when cold rolled steel became widely available in the 1870's the arched window fell out of favor since they could lay a steel beam above windows to provide support.
    #11
  12. lburners

    lburners Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2008
    Oddometer:
    91
    Location:
    Vt
    Hey, Cool report. Could you tell me where you get the smaller stickers representing the states on your pelican cases?
    #12
  13. ADVKmac

    ADVKmac Adventurer

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2007
    Oddometer:
    37
    Location:
    Madison, Alabama

    I don't want to answer for DeBandi, but Alabama is making some chatter about doing something with some of these areas (Red Mountain).
    #13
  14. DeBandi

    DeBandi Exploring Alabama

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2006
    Oddometer:
    3,289
    Location:
    Blount Springs, AL

    Thanks Mel.

    It closed unfortunately due to obsolescence.

    U S Steel decided to update the mills in Fairfield. They are still producing today. Fairfield is just a few miles from Ensley.
    #14
  15. jtb

    jtb Long timer

    Joined:
    Dec 4, 2003
    Oddometer:
    2,458
    Location:
    Hawkesbury NSW Australia
    Great photo's and info. Thanks for sharing!:clap
    #15
  16. scottr

    scottr Banned

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2006
    Oddometer:
    1,768
    Location:
    Pedernales R., Tx Hill Country (Ihadthisavatar1st)
    HELL yes!

    Better than letting them decompose into the ground and seriously I don't see any architectural wonders here worth preserving. Nor is the historicity all that impressive. I doubt as well that the citizens of the state care to pony up several million in tax dollars to turn the site into a museum either.

    You can't make new materials to compare with these wonderfully weathered products. What's so wrong with allowing them to be provided to people to make beautiful architecture with? :huh
    #16
  17. DeBandi

    DeBandi Exploring Alabama

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2006
    Oddometer:
    3,289
    Location:
    Blount Springs, AL
    PM sent....
    #17
  18. DeBandi

    DeBandi Exploring Alabama

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2006
    Oddometer:
    3,289
    Location:
    Blount Springs, AL
    The Chatter ADVKmac speaks about can be viewed at

    http://www.redmountainpark.org/park_index.php

    Thanks ADVKmac...
    #18
  19. BamaDirtPilot

    BamaDirtPilot Adventurer

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2006
    Oddometer:
    35
    Location:
    Shelby County Alabama
    Again, I know this is an old thread.....

    But, nice report and pics.

    I grew up in Hopewell, which is only about 2 miles from this site.

    In the 1970's (when I was a teen) there were some other old structures out in the woods there that few people knew about. They were lots of cool concrete maze looking things built into the ground. Back then I was told by some of the old folks that they could have been part of the washer for the Iron Ore.

    Think I mentioned in another thread that as late as 1977, there was still an open mine shaft out in the woods on the side of the mountain (few people knew about that too). I was told it was an air shaft/ supply shaft. Some of us teens did go down very deep into that shaft until we hit the water level. When we looked back up at the top of the shaft, the daylight of the entrance looked about the size of a dime from down that deep.

    Yes, stupid I know, but stupid is as stupid does! :deal

    I wonder if I could still find these old structures today and that old open shaft? :evil
    #19
  20. ADVKmac

    ADVKmac Adventurer

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2007
    Oddometer:
    37
    Location:
    Madison, Alabama
    I bet DeBandi would help you. :deal
    #20