History buffs looking to do a little hiking and sight-seeing will enjoy a trip to historic Katahdin Iron Works. The remains of this 19th century iron smelting plant are interesting and surrounded by gorgeous scenery.
Most guests of Lodge at Moosehead Lake find plenty to entertain them right here at the lake. Opportunities for hiking, boating, fishing, birding, golfing, ATV-ing, and more abound in the Greenville area.
That being said, there are also some popular regional attractions you may find yourself drawn to. Sites like the historic Katahdin Iron Works.
A Little History
At its height, the iron works could produce 18 to 20 tons of pig iron a day. No mean feat, when you consider the resources needed.
Smelting iron ore takes the heat of a blast furnace. In those days, you fueled your blast furnace with charcoal, which meant wood. A lot of wood. At its height, Katahdin Iron Works boasted 16 charcoal kilns, capable of burning 50 cords of wood at a time. Regularly cutting and hauling this wood, 20,000 cords a year at the peak, employed hundreds of men.
Consequently, by 1884, a village had grown up around the iron works. A community for the 200 workers and their families, plus businesses to support them. In fact, the area’s remoteness had a tourist appeal (imagine that). Natural springs, outdoor sports, and the popular Silver Lake Hotel drew many, with the village beginning to resemble a summer resort town.
The boom era was not to last, however. When stronger yet cheaper, mass-produced steel appeared in the 1870’s, iron took a major fall. Katahdin Iron Works closed in 1890, having operated operated for only around 25 years. The townspeople began to move away when the mills closed and eventually the whole site was abandoned.
Today, only one charcoal kiln and the remains of the massive blast furnace remain, donated to the state as a historical site.
Getting To Katahdin Iron Works
Katahdin Iron Works are located just a little over an hour’s drive from Lodge at Moosehead Lake.
Head south on Lily Bay Road from The Lodge, then take a left on Pleasant Street, which will become E Road.
Stay on E Road as it becomes Ki Road for around 14 miles, then turn right on Katahdin Iron Works Road.
Follow this for around 11 miles to the Ore Mountain Road, where you’ll take a left.
Cross the Pleasant River and the Iron Works will be on your left.
The drive is only around 27 miles but the dirt roads can be rough, as they are regularly used by heavy logging trucks. Be sure to give logging trucks the right of way and avoid any orange painted rocks you see in the road. You’ll also need $14 in cash to pass the KI Checkpoint.
Visit the state parks website to learn more about this historic attraction.
That’s Not All
Katahdin Iron Works are not the only attraction in the area.
Gulf Hagas, the “Grand Canyon of Maine,” is a wonderfully scenic rocky gorge with four different waterfalls. The popular Gulf Hagas Rim Trail makes an excellent day trip for any experienced hiker.
About 2.5 miles down the Katahdin Iron Works Road, you’ll pass the Gulf Hagas Lower Trailhead. The upper Gulf Hagas Trailhead can be reached by taking a left, instead of a right, at the Katahdin Iron Works Road intersection.
A portion of the Appalachian Trail and an Appalachian Trail campsite can also be accessed via the Iron Works Road, just before the Gulf Hagas Lower Trailhead.
What shape will your Moosehead Lake getaway take? Let us know what interests you and we’ll get you pointed in the right direction. Lodge at Moosehead Lake loves sharing the wonders of Maine with our guests!