Clear Creek Furnace

Historical Marker #1050 near the town of Salt Lick in Bath County remembers the prodigious output of Clear Creek Furnace. Built in 1839 by W. A. Lane and W. S. Allen, the furnace operated until its last blast in 1875. Production of iron at the location ceased from 1857 until 1873, when the furnace was rebuilt and renamed Bath Furnace. In 1874 alone, the reconstructed furnace produced more than 1,339 tons of iron.

Clear Creek, like numerous other Kentucky furnaces, used charcoal for fuel and was purposefully constructed on a stream to take advantage of steam power. Limonite, an abundant iron ore found in Kentucky, was frequently mined and used at this location. This specific ore was ideal as it produced an extremely durable iron. The furnace primarily produced iron that was used to manufacture wheels for railway cars.

After the financial Panic of 1873, many of the iron furnaces were forced to close their doors. The once-booming railroad industry also took a hit, affecting iron production throughout the nation. In addition to the financial crisis, sites in Kentucky lost business to large corporations located in states like Pennsylvania and New York. Two years after the furnace was reconstructed, Clear Creek fired its last blast. Located in what is now the Daniel Boone National Forest, the Clear Creek or Bath Furnace still stands today and is one of the best preserved nineteenth century Kentucky iron furnaces.