Maramec Iron Works

Discussion in 'General' started by WindsorSpring, Nov 4, 2011.

  1. WindsorSpring

    WindsorSpring Member Supporter

    St. Louis in the Century of Henry Shaw (2003 - Missouri Botanical Garden, Missouri Historical Society, University of Missouri Press) is a collection of essays on St. Louis history from around 1820 to 1900. James Neal Primm's "The Economy of Nineteenth-Century St. Louis" mentions completion of the Southwest Branch of the Pacific Railroad to Rolla made iron shipping easier from the Meramec Iron Works. The Iron Works near Maramec Springs had been producing for the St. Louis market since around 1830, but shipping had been difficult.

    I had often wondered what led to the construction of the Southwest Branch and the iron certainly would have been the magnet.

    St. James is closer to the Springs so I wonder if that was actually the shipping point for the iron.

    George Nelson aka WindsorSpring
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  2. meteor910

    meteor910 2009 Engineer of the Year Staff Member Supporter

    Re: Maramec Iron Works

    George -

    It is correctly spelled Maramec Iron Works.

    There is a good book I bought during a visit some years back to Maramec Springs Park (a beautiful park BTW) as follows:

    Frontier Iron, The Maramec Iron Works, 1826-1876, by James D. Norris, LOC card number 64-63570.

    The iron works were located in what is now Maramec Springs Park, down Mo Hwy 8 past St James. The ruins of the iron works are still there, and they have some great exhibits to display how everything worked. The park also houses a trout hatchery, and the spring is beautiful. Well worth a visit! We used to run up there from MSM in Rolla in the spring to study (ha!), and the park was one of our stops when Kurt as a kid and I used to go on combined fishing/Frisco watching trips.

    I don't believe there ever was a branch line, or a local railroad, from the iron works up to St James. They used to haul the iron products up from the Meramec River valley, where the spring is, to St James to get it on the railroad.

    It's a real nice day trip from the StL area!

    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 4, 2011
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  3. klrwhizkid

    klrwhizkid Administrator Staff Member Administrator Supporter

    It is a very beautiful and pleasant site to visit, and very well maintained - a Robinson family recommended stop as well.
  4. meteor910

    meteor910 2009 Engineer of the Year Staff Member Supporter

    The Maramec Springs park is administered and funded by the James Foundation, who do a terrific job there. VERY nice place!

    Kurt would always fish for the trout there. I'd just play with the bluegill. Several times I caught the same one twice in a row over a few minutes time. The spring water is so clear you can see them swarming around your bait.

    And, the place is only about 15-20 minutes from the Frisco in St James. If you keep going on Mo Hwy 8, you wind up in Steeleville, on the SLSF Salem/Lead branch after about another 15-20 minute ride. Beautiful, rustic Ozark foothill country! My family drove all over this part of Missouri when I was a kid during many Ozark vacations.

  5. WindsorSpring

    WindsorSpring Member Supporter

    Meteor910 wrote: "It is correctly spelled Maramec Iron Works."
    So it is, thanks for the correction.
    I knew the spelling of the River, "Meramec," was different from that of the Maramec Spring, but I used Mr. Primm's spelling from page 120 in the cited book.

  6. wpmoreland719

    wpmoreland719 Member Supporter

    I believe that there is a historic plaque on the Missouri River front in Hermann that states that much of the iron from the Maramec Iron Works was hauled by wagon to Hermann and placed on steamboats there. That may have been before the coming of either railroad (eventual Mopac and Frisco).

    I'm not sure why they didn't construct a branch directly to the iron works, since there was quite a network of lines branching off of the Salem Branch that were built specifically to haul iron (Cherryvalley RR, Sligo and Eastern, and Dent-Phelps RR). There was also one that branched off of the main line just west of Fanning that served a mine to the north. It was abandoned in the 1870's, but the grade is still very visible.

    Pat Moreland,
    Union Mo.

    "Birds on the Bat, 11 in 11"
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  7. meteor910

    meteor910 2009 Engineer of the Year Staff Member Supporter

    I need to read that Norris book I mentioned in the posting above! Perhaps it will lend a clue as to how the Maramec Iron works shipped their product(s) out of the Meramec River valley. I heven't read a word of it!

    There was, of course, also the Knotwell Iron Works located just to the west of Newburg, MO at Alhambra Grotto on the A&P (Frisco Eastern Division), plus the Sligo Iron Works on the Sligo & Eastern at Sligo, MO. At one time (mid-1800's), the area was full of primitive iron companies. The local rocks - that are not pink granite - are red/orange in color. There's iron in them thar hills!

  8. klrwhizkid

    klrwhizkid Administrator Staff Member Administrator Supporter

    I should have answered the shipping question on my first post. The finished products were shipped out to the rail lines via wagons or by oxen to Gray Summit or St James as I remember from our visit there.
  9. WindsorSpring

    WindsorSpring Member Supporter

    Apparently, as in the north of England, railroad construction and iron works were mutually beneficial. The Frisco's ancestor Southwest Branch certainly facilitated business for Maramec Iron Works as well as those near Salem. Primm mentions wagon carriage of the iron all the way to St. Louis. This probably did happen, though the somewhat shorter haul to Hermann for river transport makes sense, despite the topography.

    Economic conditions were apparently more conducive for railroad construction between 1870 and 1880 than during the Civil War. This likely explains the growth of lines around the Salem deposits. On the other hand, economic conditions during the war, as well as the unrest in western Missouri, released only enough resources to get the railroad close to the iron for shipment along what later became the Frisco main line.

    Ken, may I be next in line to read the "iron" book?

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  10. kenmc

    kenmc KenMc Supporter

  11. meteor910

    meteor910 2009 Engineer of the Year Staff Member Supporter

    George -
    Unfortunately, the book was lost (sold to some blankly blank dealer) during our infamous estate sale in September, 2016. Alas!

    I bought the book at the gift shop in Maramac Springs park, between Steelville and St James, MO., on Mo Hwy 8.

    Hopefully, they still have copies. Beautiful park by the way!

    Ozarktraveler likes this.
  12. WindsorSpring

    WindsorSpring Member Supporter

    Not to worry. I was able to get a copy of Frontier Iron... through inter-library loan from Maplewood PL (I think) via Kirkwood. It was a good read. Some months later (2012), we visited Maramec Springs and saw the furnace and other sights first hand, including the trout hatchery. That was wonderful and so was the Visitor's Center with all the models. The gift shop was still selling copies of Frontier Iron... then, but I did not buy since I had recently read it.

    Attached Files:

  13. palallin

    palallin Member

    Certainly, no one was building RRs in MO during the war (repairing them was another matter), but the line came through St. James prior to the outbreak.
  14. FriscoGeorge

    FriscoGeorge Frisco Employee

    I used to work at the park back in 1986 and the folks there told me the iron was sent by pack mule and cart to Saint James then hauled out by the railroad.
    And don't forget that there was also a small iron works just two miles west of Newburg called Knotwell Iron Works. Sadly it is now on private property and the property owner has NO TRESPASSING signs posted all around.
  15. It looks that the Meramec name made an entire circle of names and then back to Meramec

    Meramec, Maramec*, ....

    The first European explorer was FrenchJesuitpriestJacques Gravier, who traveled the river in 1699–1700.
    The name likely means 'the river of ugly fishes' or 'ugly water' in Algonquian. Early variant spellings of the name were Mearamigoua, Maramig, Mirameg, Meramecsipy, Merramec, Merrimac, Mearmeig,
    and *Maramecquisipi.
    (per WIKI).

    The name “Meramec” is of Algonquian Indian origin, and means “ugly fish” or “catfish”, which were abundant in its waters, however, it is possible that the river is named after a band of Miami-Illinois (Inoka) Indians.

    According to Michael Mccafferty, Algonquian linguist specialist in the Miami-Illinois language and expert in Algonquian place names/river names in the Midwest. “The river is noted and its name is given in the dictionary prepared by the Jesuit missionary Antoine-Robert Le Boullenger.
    The name in the Miami-Illinois language is myaarameekwa ‘catfish’. Myaar(a) means ‘ugly’ and meekwa means ‘fish’. (the double-e is what is termed a “long vowel” in Algonquian, and is pronounced like the ai of ‘rail’.)”

    Also according to Mccafferty, that name was given the "Meramec" for one of two possible reasons:
    Actually, it "is" possible that this stream did indeed have an noticeable abundance of catfish.
    This may seem unlikely, but we do know for certain that other streams, for example the Tippecanoe and the Eel rivers of Indiana, were each named after a kind a fish that lived in their respective waters in outstanding abundance (the first is the name for buffalo fish, a species of carp). In Miami-Illinois the term is kiteepihkwana.
    2) it was named after a band of Indians known as the “catfish”.” and “It is not impossible that myaarameekwa was the name of a Miami band, since we see in history references to “the Miami of Meramec”. Or it just may be that this group of "Miami were living on the Meramec River.” "Meramec" !

    The name of the Mississippi is also of Algonquian origin, derived from their term mihsisiipi, meaning ‘Big River’.

    The title of this state Missouri is of Miami Illinois origin, from the Miami-Illinois Indians’ name for the Siouan—speaking tribe known as the Missouri Indians. The term “Missouri” comes from weemihsoorita,
    meaning “one who canoes,” “one who has a canoe”. -SPECIAL THANKS TO MICHAEL MCCAFFERTY


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