The simplicity and consequent cheapness of construction of the blomary fires caused them to be largely employed in the early years of the iron manufacture in America; and a few, that have superior advantages for obtaining supplies of ore and fuel, Fig. 12.—A Trip-Hammer. remain active at the present time. We are told that in 1731 there were in all New England "six furnaces for hollow ware and nineteen forges or blomaries for bar iron. At that time there were no furnaces for pig iron exclusively nor any refineries of pig metal; there was one slitting-mill and a manufacture of nails." In that year there were no iron-works in New York, and but a few in New Jersey (one furnace and "several forges"); in Pennsylvania there were one furnace and three "forges." At the same time there were two "furnaces" and one "blomary" in Delaware, and two "furnaces" and two "blomaries" in Maryland, and in Virginia there were three "blast-furnaces" and one "air furnace" (a form of reverberatory furnace), "but no forge." The fifteen "furnaces" and thirty "blomaries" above enumerated represented the growth of the iron industry of America during the eighty-six years following its birth at Lynn.
As the result of a superabundance of painful pondering, supplemented by a proportional volume of conservative hesitation and doubt, the manufacture of iron slowly increased, not only in America, but in the world at large; and soon after the "blomary process" had been generally recognized as the most satisfactory method of making iron, the growing needs of expanding civilization began to demand some means by which the more abundant ores that were not so rich in iron as those required by
- The "Catalan forge" or "blomary fire" has been an important factor in the growth of the iron industry of the United States, but it belongs to an industrial stage of the past. In 1856 J. P. Lesley, Secretary of the American Iron Association, reported two hundred and four blomaries in active work (in nine States), whose product for that year was 28,633 tons: many of these works must have been idle, as the product seems a very low one, averaging but one hundred and forty tons each. In 1889 James M. Swank, Vice-President and General Manager of the American Iron and Steel Association, reports but five forges (four in New York and one in Tennessee), producing iron direct from the ore; their united product being 12,407 net tons of blooms.
- Bishop's History of American Manufactures.