Endor Furnace

Endor Iron Furnace near Sanford, N.C.

Endor Iron Furnace near Sanford, N.C.

I’ve been working on a story about Endor Iron Furnace for The Herald for a few days now and I thought I really should see the structure for myself to get a better understanding of its significance. The furnace was built in the years leading up to the Civil War. Sitting just a stone throw away from the Deep River, the furnace churned out iron ore to be used for munitions and railroad equipment for nearly two decades before the local mineral deposits ran dry.

In 1874, the furnace was abandoned. For more than a century it sat alone and forgotten in the woods two miles off of the nearest road.

In recent years, local advocates have been trying to raise money to turn the furnace and the adjacent land into a state park, but they’ve had difficulty raising support for their cause because people just don’t know what the furnace is. Hopefully a recent turn of events will change that. Read more about that in The Herald next week.Endor5

I love finding new trails to explore and finding a cool historical site along the way makes it even more worthwhile. While it may not be the best time to be raising money to build a new state park (or maybe it is exactly the kind of thing we should be doing during a recession, who knows?) this is a neat stretch of public property that anyone would enjoy visiting.

My pictures don’t do a good job putting the furnace in perspective. It is about 30 feet high and 25 feet wide at the base. A grown man standing beside the furnace would stand on level with the top of the hearth. The side shown above is in the best condition, while much of the smokestack on the other sides has collapsed.

Here’s a few more pictures.

I've been playing around with white balance settings, trying to bring out the richest colors without making the images unnatural.

I've been playing around with white balance settings, trying to bring out the richest colors without making the images unnatural.

On the trail to Endor.

On the trail to Endor.

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About David Anderson, Jr.

I'm a wandering pilgrim anchored in the Baptist tradition, tossed about by the anabaptist current. I am a minister at Pullen Memorial Baptist Church and a recent graduate of Campbell Divinity School. I am the husband of a beautiful woman, and the father of a blond-haired boy. I am a work in progress, struggling to work out my own salvation with fear and trembling. View all posts by David Anderson, Jr.

6 responses to “Endor Furnace

  • Tarrah

    I recently went to Endor Iron furnace withe my grandparents. it is a very historic and interesting place. close by the furnace are multipul square blocks placed as though a structure was there.

  • Bradley

    How do I get to the Furnace? Someone at work mentioned that it was off of Steel Bridge Road, but couldn’t remember where.
    Thanks a lot.

    • David

      It’s not off of Steel Bridge Road; they may be thinking about the Ole Gilliam Mill, which is another pretty cool site that includes an old-fashioned cover bridge.

      To get to the furnace, take Cotten Road. If you Hawkins Avenue out of Sanford, like you’re going towards Pittsboro, turn left just after crossing U.S. 1. The frontage road near the exit will end quickly, leaving you to turn right on Cotten Road. Follow this road for a few miles until you get to Iron Furnace Road. Take a right on Iron Furnace Road. It is immediately before an unmarked railroad crossing, so if you cross the railroad tracks, you’ve gone a few feet too far. Follow Iron Furnace Road, which turns into a dirt/gravel mix road, as far as you can. It is being upgraded and may not be entirely open to the public now, but if you follow the road (on foot or in your car) it will end at a parking area for the furnace trail. The actual trail is only a few hundred yards long.

      Hope this makes since. It is well worth the trouble!

  • Leon Tongret

    I live just a short distance from the Iron Furnace off of Cotton Road. I have been taking weekly walking trips to the Endor Furnace for about 15 years.

    I am looking forward to seeing it developed into a beautiful park with boat ramps and walking trails. It will be a real asset to Lee County and Sanford.

    • David

      It certainly will be nice to see that area properly developed into a park, Leon. It’s truly amazing that such a beautiful site on the Deep River has made it through the past 150 years relatively unscathed. Even more amazing is the fact that the furnace has sat quietly in the woods, practically forgotten, for all of those years. It’s exciting to be a part of the “in crowd” on a wonderful secret like that, but it will be even better to see it developed in such a way as to protect the site and open it up to more of the public.

  • Nathan Williams

    That’s a very neat piece of history. I would love yo photograph this when I’m up that way. I assume its somewhere in NC?
    Thanks for sharing. I hope it works out to become a local or state park.

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