Saturday, August 2, 2008

The Land Where The Smoke Rises

I had the best of intentions at the recent Smoke Rise Beach Campout. I truly wanted to capture my very own image of smoke rising.

After all, Lisa and Ted had seen it when they stood in line to reserve picnic tables on July 5th, the day of the fireworks. That was 5:30am.

I missed it. This photo - taken at around 7am captures the complete stillness of the water. Unfortunately, no smoke...

I love the name "Smoke Rise." It conjures up images of steam rising over lake waters, of rich, dense vegetation, full trees, rocky terrain from which mountains rise and over which waters trickle [or rush after a major rain] back down to the lake.

It also matches up with the history surrounding the area.

Several sources [including the Smoke Rise website] state that Lenni-Lenape Indians [also known as the Ramapough Mountain Indians] named the area surrounding Smoke Rise 'The Land Where the Smoke Rises.' They hunted and farmed in the area and must have spent many an early morning close to the lake admiring the rising smoke of the water.

Of course, given how many lakes exist in this area, this entire section of northern New Jersey must have fit that description.

Interestingly, in the early 1700s, given the relative proximity to New York ports, those areas with access to rushing waters [i.e., power], trees [for charcoal] and iron ore became centers of intense industry. In 1766, the London Company established the Charlotteburg Furnace on the Pequannock River.

According to Barbara and Ernie Suto's site describing the history of Kinnelon, "Ruins of the furnace still lie under the water of the Pequannock Reservoir, south of Smoke Rise's North Gate. Other forges were built on the Pequannock River at Smith's Mills and Butler, and on the outlet of Stickle's Pond (Lake Kinnelon) on Stony Brook."

[Many of these names appear on local maps. On this MapQuest image, I added some of the names. Note that Route 23 in this section follows the course of the Pequannock River.]

"The typical furnace was a stone pyramid on the side of a hill. A platform was built along which layers of ore, fuel, and flux were wheeled to the opening atop the furnace. The mixture was dropped into the furnace and ignited. Air blasts from bellows powered by water wheels kept the fires intense. Gradually, the iron ore melted and the heavy metal flowed out at the base of the furnace into troughs of sand on the casting floor. The arrangement of these cooling beds resembled a sow and her piglets: thus the term "pig iron." Slag floating above the iron was drawn off and discarded. The pig iron was further purified and shaped in the forge."

[Photos of the Carlisle Furnace by Pat Henson and of an Iron Furnace in Kentucky by kyterryls shots give you an idea of the construction. This one of the Cyfarthfa Furnaces by locus imagination includes copious notes about the Cyfarthfa Ironworks in SW.]

"Charcoal was painstakingly prepared in the surrounding hills. Trees had to be cut down during the wintertime, trimmed to the proper size, stacked in cone-shaped piles, and topped with earth and damp leaves. Once ignited, it took three to ten days to char the wood properly. When furnaces were in full blast, it took an acre of trees a day to feed the fires. Some of Kinnelon's roads were once wagon trails where teams of oxen hauled charcoal to the furnaces.

England demanded that the colonies ship all their iron to the mother country and buy from her all their finished hardgoods. By 1770, one seventh of the world's iron was being produced in this region, and England's unjust law soon made rebels of the people of New Jersey. The Highlands' natural barrier to transportation kept the mines and forges safe from British attacks, and left the colonists with a plentiful supply of iron for guns, shot and tools. A huge iron chain forged in this area stretched across the Hudson River near West Point to bar British ships. The hills rang with the banging of trip hammer, the rumble of wagons, and the roar of many fires."

Imagine how polluted the air must have been, how denuded the mountain side - an acre of trees per day to keep the fires going. It boggles the mind.

For more information about the Charlotteburg Ironworks, I encourage you to read Chapter 10 of Kinnelon: A History by Lucy A. Meyer, the town historian. Although the book is available only for reference at the Kinnelon Library, has posted a copy of Chapter 10 The Great Charlotteburg Furnace Tract online. You'll find maps and sketches that bring it all to life.

Back to the name 'Smoke Rise.'

In 1922 the borough of Kinnelon was incorporated. Up to that point, 'Kinnelon' had been the name of Francis S. Kinney's estate [i.e., Kinney's lawn]. It seems that he generously gave that name to the new borough while taking on the name 'Smoke Rise' for his property. In 1946, when the property started its transformation into a residential development, it became The Smoke Rise Club, "one of the earliest community club plans in the United States."

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