Saugus Iron Works National Historic Site | PARK AT A GLANCE

Saugus Iron Works National Historic Site

Saugus Iron Works National Historic Site

Note: Saugus Iron Works is a modern name. When in operation, the iron plant was called Hammersmith, and it was located in Lynn, Massachusetts. The town of Saugus was not incorporated until 1815.


PARK OVERVIEW

Saugus Iron Works National Historic Site located in Saugus, Massachusetts, preserves the site of the first successful iron manufacturing plant in the American colonies. It was also the first integrated iron works in the country. By integrated, not only was there a blast furnace to produce cast iron, there was also a forge to turn the cast iron into wrought iron that was needed to make durable tools, as well as a rolling and slitting mill that could make products such as flat iron plates of various lengths and thicknesses and nails rods for the production of nails. At the time, there were only a dozen rolling and slitting mills in the world.

The Saugus Iron Works began operation in 1646 and continued until financial problems forced its closure in the late 1660s. When this happened, the skilled iron workers who were recruited from Great Britain branched out and spread their skills throughout the colonies. This was the second legacy of Saugus Iron Works.

The Iron Works was lost to nature in the ensuing 280 years. In 1948, archaeologists set out to find the original foundations of the buildings. A slag pile (waste materials from the smelting process) was still clearly visible, so the general location of the plant was known, it just took some digging to find where the buildings were located. The excavation continued until 1953, and as one building was discovered and studied, a working replica was built on its spot. Reproductions of the blast furnace, forge, rolling and slitting mill, and warehouse and dock were constructed, and the site opened to the public in 1954 under the name Saugus Ironworks Restoration. Visitors can still explore the buildings, and on Ranger-guided tours some of the equipment is actually operated.

On the hill above the iron works industrial site is a house from the late 1600s that is also part of the park. Called the Iron Works House, it was originally thought to be the residence of the Saugus Iron Works manager, but research has shown that it was most likely built in the early 1680s after the facility closed. The house was renovated by Wallace Nutting in 1915 to look like it does today. It is open to visitors by guided tour only.

The park’s Visitor Center is housed in an attachment to the Iron Works House that was not part of the original structure, but did exist in 1915. Nutting expanded it for use as the home of his on-site blacksmith, Edward Guy. Next door in the blacksmith shop that was built by Nutting in 1917 is the Iron Works Museum. Here you can see many of the artifacts found in the archaeological dig.

The Saugus Ironworks Restoration was overseen by the First Iron Works Association (FIWA), a preservation society organized for the purpose of managing the Iron Works House, and funded by the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI). Unfortunately, in the mid-1960s, AISI ceased to sponsor the project, and FIWA soon found that it did not have the funds to sustain its operation. The National Park Service was approached, and with Congressional approval, Saugus Iron Works National Historic Site was created in 1968.


OPERATING HOURS

The grounds of Saugus Iron Works National Historic Site are open year-round, but the Visitor Center, museum, Iron Works House, and the buildings of the iron works industrial site are only open seasonally, typically from June 1st through October 31st on Wednesdays through Sundays from 10 AM to 5 PM. For the exact opening date and the latest schedule, be sure to check the National Park Service’s official Operating Hours and Seasons web page for Saugus Iron Works National Historic Site.


FEES

There are no fees associated with a visit to Saugus Iron Works National Historic Site.

Entrance to Saugus Iron Works National Historic Site

Entrance to Saugus Iron Works National Historic Site

SCHEDULING YOUR TIME

Visitor Center and Museum
all 1 hour

Guided Tours of the Iron Works House and Industrial Site
allow 2.5 hours

Back to the Top


Last updated on June 15, 2020
Share this article