Cedar Bluff Alabama / Cornwall Furnace

Cornwall Furnace

While not inside the Town Limits of Cedar Bluff, Cornwall Furnace is a popular historic location.  While today it is a beautiful county park enjoyed by families and history buffs, during the Civil War and the Reconstruction Period that followed it was the scene of a lot of the county’s dramatic activitiy. 

Cornwall Furnance was the first of thirteen furnances built in Alabama.  Its main function was to produce iron for the Confederacy.  It was built in 1862 by the Noble Brothers Company and it was the only furnance in the country to use water power for its blast.  The furnance produced six to eight tons a day and the iron was used to make the first cannons for the Confederacy.  The destruction of Cornwall Furnance was a goal of the Union Army, because of its importance and location.  The first attempt to destroy the furnance was made by Union Col. Abel Streight.  His troops destoryed the furnance at Round Mountain, but were stopped in April 1863 before reaching Cornwall.  In June 1864, Union Gen. Frank Blair burned the wooden structures and blew up the tunnel that the water flowed through to turn the water wheel.  Later in October of 1864, the notorious Gen. Sherman damaged the massive stone stack, but was unable to completely knock it down.  After the Civil War ended in 1865, Cornwall Furnace was the second furnance in the state to go back into production and played an integral role in helping Cherokee County recover economically during the Reconstruction Period.  At the request of the Noble brothers, Union Col. Charles Rattray brought investors from Illionois to help finance the restoration for Cornwall.  Rattray was made superintendent of the furnance’s operation 1869 and was associated with the furnance until it stopped production in 1875. 

Source: City of Cedar Bluff History