Clifton Furnace

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NRHP Listing Date


NRHP Reference Number


Located in Alleghany County’s Rainbow Gap, one of the Commonwealth’s outstanding natural formations, Clifton Furnace was a major center of ironmaking, a principal industry of mid-19th-century Virginia. The site was in operation as early as 1822, and the present cold-blast charcoal furnace, a stone structure tapering in a gentle curve toward the top, was erected in 1846 by William Lyle Alexander, the forge’s owner. The furnace went out of blast in 1854, although iron production continued at the site until it was completely abandoned in 1877. The stone Clifton Furnace, now owned by the Virginia Department of Transportation, is the only remaining relic of this once-busy place. The nearby town of Clifton Forge, originally called Williamson’s Station, takes its name from this early industrial site.

Last Updated: June 2, 2023

Many properties listed in the registers are private dwellings and are not open to the public, however many are visible from the public right-of-way. Please be respectful of owner privacy.

VLR: Virginia Landmarks Register
NPS: National Park Service
NRHP: National Register of Historic Places
NHL: National Historic Landmark

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