When you think of industrial furnaces you may think of the late 19th or early 20th centuries and places like Baltimore, Buffalo, and Pittsburgh. But, the history of American industry goes back much further – and one of the earliest industrial sites in Maryland is located in the foothills of Frederick County at the Catoctin Furnace.
Today’s guest, Elizabeth Comer, a professional archaeologist, is a member of the Board of the Catoctin Furnace Historical Society – an organization dedicated to preserving and interpreting this unique story. Elizabeth is instrumental in coordinating the Historical Society's Historic Building Trades Program in partnership with Silver Oak Academy, a residential boarding school for at-risk teens overseen by the State of Maryland Department of Juvenile Services. Participating students learn valuable construction skills while working alongside preservation experts gaining marketable real-world job skills that attract potential employers in preservation, conservation, museums, and the trades – or may even inspire students to start their own company. The partnership between the Catoctin Furnace Historical Society and Silver Oak Academy embodies the mythology of the phoenix rising from the ashes as the symbol of renewed life for both the historic buildings and the young people who take part in their preservation.
Make sure you have your blast shields down...we’re headed into the furnace on this week’s PreserveCast.