This early industry expanded steadily during the antebellum years, with much of the capital for the enterprise coming from affluent planters anxious to enter the manufacturing field. By mid-century a total of eight furnaces had been constructed.

In the vicinity of the Broad River near the northern border of South Carolina, there are significant deposits of magnetite and specular oxide iron ore, as well as some lesser belts of hematite. Early colonists took advantage of these resources and began to produce iron before the Revolutionary War. Two iron works were well established in the area by the end of the eighteenth century. This early industry expanded steadily during the antebellum years, with much of the capital for the enterprise coming from affluent planters anxious to enter the manufacturing field. By mid-century a total of eight furnaces had been constructed. Confederate demands for iron caused a notable increase in production during the Civil War, but the end of the conflict marked the beginning of the end for many of the foundries. One of the main reasons for the decline was that anthracite furnaces operating in other parts of the nation produced iron at a lower cost than the charcoal iron produced in the region. By the end of the nineteenth century, the industry had disappeared from the state. About the same time a new county— Cherokee County—was formed from parts of Spartanburg, Union, and York Counties on February 25, 1897. Centered in the middle of the once prosperous iron industry in South Carolina, it is sometimes known as the Old Iron District.

Lander, Ernest M., Jr. “The Iron Industry in Ante-Bellum South Carolina.” Journal of Southern History 20 (August 1954): 337–55.

Moss, Bobby G. The Old Iron District: A Study of the Development of Cherokee County, 1750–1897. Clinton, S.C.: Jacobs, 1972.

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Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations.

  • Article Title Old Iron District
  • Author Samuel K. Fore
  • Website Name South Carolina Encyclopedia
  • URL http://www.scencyclopedia.org/sce/entries/old-iron-district/
  • Access Date December 17, 2018
  • Publisher University of South Carolina, Institute for Southern Studies
  • Original Published Date June 8, 2016
  • Date of Last Update October 20, 2016