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The Ironworks Legacy: Pine Grove Furnace State Park
Located at the northern tip of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Pine Grove Furnace State Park is a natural and historical landmark built in 1764 by three men as an iron works facility crafting stoves and kettles. Eventually, they would supply the Revolutionary Army with munitions. The land was massive; it contained 17,000 acres that was eventually divided in 1913 into the Michaux State Forest and Pine Grove Furnace State Park by the Forest Reserve System. The two lakes, Laurel and Fuller, which once supplied the forges with waterpower, became popular swimming and fishing areas.
Added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1977, Pine Grove's history is undeniable. A man named Jay Cooke, who had come to own the Pine Grove ironworks single handedly, once raised over $1 billion for the Union during the Civil War, giving him the nickname "The Financier of the Civil War." By the end of America's deadliest conflict, Jay Cooke became the wealthiest man in the country. Almost unbelievably, Pine Grove Furnace was one of the most influential agents in the Civil War and American history. Some of the wealthiest and most powerful people in the world made their fame and fortune here.
Today, Pine Grove has an endless variety of activities like hiking, picnicking, the Ironmaster's Mansion, as well as the Appalachian Trail Museum that commemorates pioneer Appalachian Trail builders and hikers including those in the Appalachian Trail Hall of Fame. Pine Grove Furnace State Park is the midpoint of the Appalachian Trail. The park is open year-round, every day, sunrise to sunset.
To learn more about Pine Grove Furnace State Park, visit the website.