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The Adirondack Iron & Steel Company was built after David Henderson and John McIntyre found “the most extraordinary bed of iron ore, for situation and extent of vein, which this North American Continent affords," in 1826. Archibald’s McIntyre (John’s brother), Duncan McMartin (a previous business partner) and Henderson set forward to build a smelting operation at the headwaters of the Hudson. The Three ran a lottery in New Jersey, the success of which funded the iron works (and later caused a law against such actions in the state). While the site looks primitive today, the iron smelting complex was one of the most technically advanced in pre-Civil War America. The town of Adirondac grew up around the operation, where The Adirondack Iron & Steel Company owned two farms, a blast furnace and saw mill. Charcoal and bricks for the blast furnace were made in local kilns. Steel and wrought iron were produced in puddling furnaces and with a trip hammer. During peak operation in the late 1840’s, over 400 men worked to extract 50 tons of ore, producing 14 tons or iron, daily.

A considerable investment was made in 1854, when the Saratoga & Sackets Harbor Railroad surveyed a right of way near Adirondack Iron & Steel Company’s blast furnace. A new blast furnace was built and many of the structures were improved. The line was never constructed. The blast furnace was shut down, due to high transportation costs and high levels of impurities in ore after Henderson was killed during a hunting accident. The entire village of Adirondac, with its workers housing, church and bank were abandoned. By 1870, the company existed mainly on paper, and occasionally profited from timber operations.

In 1877, the whole 104,000 acre property was leased to the Adirondack Club, which still stands as one of the area’s most exclusive clubs. It also has the distinction of being the first of the Great Camps. A few years later, the ore attracted the interest of James MacNaugton, McIntyre’s grandson. Experiments found that the ore melted with less fuel, produced less slag and yielded a harder steel. The McIntyre Iron Company was formed at the turn of the century, with great promise. McIntyre ore was shipped to Bethlehem Steel for an industrial sized test. Bethlehem Steel inquired about orders of 100,000 tons annually, and again, great investment was made in the property. Again, without a rail connection, the company slowly stopped producing ore in the 1920s.

War Shortages made the McIntyre site viable for modern development. National Lead (NL) and the federal Defense Plant Corporation teamed up in 1940, they sent an "army" to work the mine. The Defense Plant Corporation arranged for New York State legislation protecting the Adirondack Park to be brushed aside during the war emergency. Interestingly enough, NL faced the same challenges as the sites original developers: transportation into the remote area. The federal government promised a solution and NL sent 1500 workers into the wilderness to build a 30 mile highway, a village for the workers, and the entire ore refining plant in one year. In 1943, NL was adding another 24 housing units to the 43 built in the two years prior. High tension lines to power the massive plant were stretched over the mountains all the way from Ticonderoga using teams of horses.

In 1944, the Defense Plant Corporation completed the 29 mile rail connection to the Delaware & Hudson in North Creek. Having finished the rail line, The Defense Plant Corporation when on to build a sinter plant a hundred yards from the NL Plant. The transportation problem being solved, McIntyre Development grew rapidly. Payroll doubled to 450 in the two decades after WWII. The original pit reached a depth of 300 feet and was no longer economically workable. In 1963, the entire town was moved 15 miles south, to make way for a new pit directly aside the Tahawus plant.

In the 1970’s a recession reduced the need for domestic titanium dioxide. In 1982, McIntyre Develop stopped sending ilmenite southward. The Delaware & Hudson fell into bankruptcy in 1983 and with only two customers on the branch, stopped serving the remote location. NL bought a locomotive and just as its workers learned to be miners 30 years earlier, they now learned to be trainmen. NL continued to run trains of iron ore to North Creek, where they were picked up by the D&H until McIntyre Development closed in 1989. (http://www.openlens.us/articles/tahawus/ no longer working)

Vice President Theodore Roosevelt was visiting Tahawus in 1901 during the final days of President William McKinley's presidency. He was staying at the MacNaughton Cottage (built in 1845), and began a hike of Mount Marcy, when he was notified that McKinley was in critical condition.

The main mine structures were demolished in 2005-06. Recently The Tahawus Tract project, undertaken by the Open Space Institute which purchased the area in August 2003, has recently cleared the area around the McIntyre blast furnace, stabilized and cleaned the furnace stack, and installed informational boards and walkways. The remains of at least 10 buildings remain on the former village site; most of them constructed between 1890 and 1930 by the Tahawus Club. Also, as part of a grant given for area cleanup and historic preservation, the old MacNaughton Cottage underwent restoration.



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