A few miles southeast of Dover, Tennessee, the home of Fort Donelson Battlefield, Highway 49 rounds a corner and brings travelers face to face with a larger than life stone structure known as Bear Spring Furnace.
Built around 1832 by Woods, Yeatman & Co. as part of the Cumberland Iron Works, Bear Spring Furnace was an important producer of charcoal iron. Furnaces such as these were kept in operation around the clock, turning local brown hematite ore into molten metal. In 1850 alone, Bear Spring was responsible for the production of over 2000 tons of metal.
Though iron output for this area of the state had peaked in 1856, it is said that Union troops destroyed the furnace during the Civil War. The new stack, built in 1873, still stands today. It remained in operation until the early 20th century. Once the site of a rail line and a bustling community, the stack and adjacent support pillar are now all that remain.
Know Before You Go
From the town of Dover, drive east on Spring Street for about 10 minutes. The Furnace will be on the side of the road on the right.