Friday, June 25, 2010

Thomas Lamb, and the Beginning of the Iron Industry

The first person to discover its importance after the discovery of iron ore in 1731 at Ore Hill, that was named Old Hill at the time was Thomas Lamb, a clever entrepreneur from Springfield, Massachusetts. He established the first iron forge in the Lime Rock district of Salisbury. This was the first bloomery forge for producing wrought-iron in the town of Salisbury. Iron that is produced in this fashion ore is heated to a white heat by use of charcoal causing the iron to separate from its ores. It has to be beaten with a heavy hammer to drive the particles of slag out of the iron to produce wrought iron.

Because the owners of land were nobles that were granted their lands by the king who never came out from England they did not know the true value of their land. Thomas Lamb was able to buy 5,000 acres of land, and the water rights for $137 on several of the rivers and streams flowing through Salisbury.

Lamb’s purchases were the basis of the iron industry in Salisbury. Among the streams he got water rights on was the Salmon Fell Kill that runs through Line Rock before it enters the Housatonic River. It was on the Salmon Kill that he established his forge, because it was 4.4 miles from the location of the money to forge the iron ore was carried to the forge in saddlebags on horses. He erected his forge in 1734 after he been awarded the water rights on the Salmon Fell Kill.

He had several workers that were mining iron ore from a mind at a time was called “Lamb’s three acre grant.” This was eventually renamed Hendrik’s ore bed, and still later the Davis ore bed or Davis mine.

With the passing of time Thomas Lamb's forge employed several men working there too produce wrought iron. For the most part the output of this forge was making household utensils or other iron parts that were used on farms.

A few years later Thomas Lamb sold off all of his Salisbury holdings for $1000. He then Moved to North Carolina where he became a sea captain, and never had any further dealings with the Salisbury area.

The development of the district would have to wait for other people like Squire Samuel Forbes and Ethan Allen who would become famous later for the capture of Fort Ticonderoga on Lake Champlain during the Revolutionary war.

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