The Iron Industry of Northwest Connecticut

by Rosemary Davis
Sharon Historical Society, Sharon

D1: Potential Compelling Question

Would there have been a thriving iron industry in Connecticut without the geological and geographical advantages of the northwest corner?


  • Why was the geography of the northwest corner critical to the success of Connecticut’s iron industry?
  • Why did Connecticut’s iron industry fail?
  • What might have happened to the development of the northwest corner of Connecticut had the men that owned the iron furnaces decided to become steel producers?
  • How did the geographical location of Connecticut’s iron industry affect the development of transportation routes into and out of the state?


Things you will need to teach this lesson:


Using the above primary and secondary source materials, the book, Echoes of Iron in Connecticut’s Northwest Corner, and accompanying video, “Visions of Iron,” students will plot out the geographical locations of materials critical to the success of Connecticut’s iron industry: rivers, forests for the production of charcoal, lime deposits, and iron ore deposits. Once the data has been plotted, students will develop hypotheses as to why the iron industry failed, and what actions could have been taken to foster its long-term success. Using these arguments, students will determine how the character of the northwest corner may have been changed as a result.


  • Plan a mock town meeting on one of the following topics: the possibility of building more iron furnaces across the region; the conversion of cold blast furnaces to hot blast furnaces; bringing major railroad lines closer to the furnace locations; etc.
  • Using online resources develop an interactive map.


Place to GO

Things To DO

Watch “Visions of Iron: The Story of the Salisbury Iron District” (DVD), available through the Sharon Historical Society online store. Historian Ed Kirby weaves the narrative thread through this complex story of iron making in the Salisbury Iron District, a geographic area that includes Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New York states.

Read the book Echoes of Iron in Connecticut’s Northwest Corner by Ed Kirby, available through the Sharon Historical Society online store. The perfect companion to “Visions of Iron,” Echoes of Iron is the first book to examine the complex history and economics of iron in the northwest corner of Connecticut and the surrounding areas of New York and Massachusetts.

Websites to VISIT Topic Pages – Business & Industry, Invention & Technology

Articles to READ Salisbury Iron Forged Early Industry by Ed Kirby.