Kent exhibit to focus on iron industry

It took more than a blast furnace to produce iron during the height of iron production in Northwest Connecticut.

However, Kent was an epicenter of the area's iron industry with three huge blast furnaces in operation at one time.

The Kent Historical Society will feature an in-depth look at the iron industry during its summer exhibit at the Seven Hearths Museum, which will open July 5.

"Iron, Wood and Water: Essential Elements of the Evolution of Kent," which will run through September, explores how many environmental resources were required for its production.

High quality iron ore abounded in the hills found in Kent and may have even led to the naming of the town after the county of Kent, England, that prospered because of its own wealth of iron.

The first forge was built in East Kent on the outlet of North Spectacle Lake, on the former Camp Francis property, which was recently acquired by the Kent Land Trust.

Charcoal, water power and limestone were also needed to extract the pure iron from the chunks of rock dug out of the ground.

The first two resources were plentiful in Kent, and limestone could be found nearby.

Owners of a small forge in New Milford came scouting northward in the 1720s looking for new sources of iron ore. They tapped into a vein of high quality ore in South Kent, and quickly negotiated to buy a strip of land from the Housatonic River east to Lake Waramaug.

Their new ore mine was in full operation by the time that the names of the new towns were chosen and the area was divided into seven distinct townships in 1737.

The town of Kent was founded in 1738 and later incorporated in 1739.

The exhibit may be seen on weekends from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 4 Studio Hill Road.

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