The Mount Savage Iron Works, Mount Savage, Maryland: A Case Study in Pre-Civil War Industrial Development
Allen, Jay D.
Smith, E. B.
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All Americans did not spend the two decades prior to 1860 awaiting the outbreak of the Civil War. During this period, heavy industry was among the forces that struck their roots and began a crucial and decided impact upon American life. This study is a microcosmic examination and discussion of the course and impact of heavy industry in Western Maryland. Focusing on the Mount Savage Iron Works of Mount Savage, Maryland, the study traces the course of the company's origins, existence, and decline; and examines the firm's role as America's first producer of heavy iron rails in a national industrial context. In Western Maryland and the community of Mount Savage, the Works' impact was profound. It spawned the regional rail network that helped promote extensive coal trade. It was the focus of a marked degree of contemporary expressions of regional prosperity. In Mount Savage, the company, in effect, began the town's life. Its presence accounted for substantial additions to the community’s population, housing, and public facilities. The character of the community altered to account for the diverse groups of non-Americans that the company brought as a labor force. Strikes and other troubles attributable to the Works were by no means absent, but the thrust of industry's presence seemed to benefit Mount Savage. Though deficiencies of natural resources ended the Works' existence, its influence stretched to the present. The variety of firms spawned by the iron company's existence imparted valuable skills and industries to the continuing life of the community of Mount Savage.