On the way up to the falls, I’d noticed a sign for Janney Furnace and wondered what that was, so on the way back, when I spotted the sign again, I made a quick, unexpected left turn, causing TOR to brace herself and stop talking mid-sentence. The side road curved around through picturesque farmland and pasture dotted with cows in several color and size variations. Eventually we came to an intersection with another sign and an arrow. Right around the corner stood the fifty-foot-tall chimney—all that’s left of the furnace, along with a huge memorial wall, and a modest museum.
We parked, got Gracie on her leash, and went to inspect the furnace and its historical marker. Turns out the furnace was built in 1863 by Alfred A. Janney who decided the resources in the area—iron ore, limestone for flux, plenty of woods for making charcoal, and the Coosa River for transport—were perfect for an iron ore furnace that would kill two birds for Janney: a good business venture in iron products and an opportunity to contribute ordnance to the confederate war effort. However, Janney’s furnace never got up and running because, not long after it was completed, in July 1864, union general Lovell H. Rousseau showed up with 2500 cavalry. They used the Ten Island Ford to cross the Coosa and defeated the confederate forces of Brigadier General James. H Clanton. Rousseau’s men demolished the superstructure of the ironworks and set fire to anything that would burn. Janney tried to salvage some of the equipment, but he never rebuilt. What remains of the furnace has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1976.