Although most of the individual components of the West Fork Furnace property lack distinction, collectively they represent an articulated and distinctive system engineered during the mid-19th century for effective and efficient metal ore processing and manufacturing. The furnace was built under the direction of Robert Toncray in 1853, in an area with already established potential for production, thanks to the early work of Captain Daniel Shelor and others. Financial and legal difficulties plagued Toncray’s operation and the furnace went out of blast in 1855. The well-preserved, pyramidal furnace structure, wheel pit, and remnants of the head and tail races possess a design and composition distinctive of iron ore processing facilities of the mid-19th century. Archaeological investigations have demonstrated the presence of intact, subsurface remains in the furnace staging area that represent a principal source of information important to understanding the design and structure of the mining system; further study could illuminate the labor organization during the production process.
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VLR: Virginia Landmarks Register
NPS: National Park Service
NRHP: National Register of Historic Places
NHL: National Historic Landmark