HISTORY OF UNION MINING COMPANY
Mount Savage Firebrick Works Photos Click here for Photos History from a Son's point of View Union Mining Company Hero
The Maryland and New York Iron and Coal Company was incorporated in 1837 with a capital of $1,000,000 to establish a plant in the wilderness at a place now known as MOUNT SAVAGE, MARYLAND. The purpose of this company was to manufacture and smelt iron out of local ores. The company was largely owned by English capital, yet strangely enough the United States government subscribed to $140,200 worth of stock and, thereby, became one of the largest stock holders. The construction of the works commenced at once and soon embraced a rolling mill, two first-class blast furnaces with three refineries for the manufacture of plate metal. In addition, it had a foundry for preparing castings of every description, an air furnace and 17 puddling furnaces. In a short while 500 hands were employed and they were busily engaged in mining ore and limestone out of local hills and in the smelting of iron and manufacture of same. The records state this plant was the only one of its kind in the wilderness, west of the Alleganies and as a result attracted many visitors from all parts of the country, Furthermore, it had the distinction of rolling the first iron rails in America., In commemoration of this achievement, the Franklin Institute awarded a medal to the rolling mill.
Even though the works started off with a flourish, it did not continue to prosper and ceased operations in the summer of 1847 due, it is said , to the tariff enactment of 1846.
When the works were first established, all of the fire brick used in the various furnaces were imported from England; naturally, this was expensive. In 1839 on Big Savage Mountain, an excellent bed of fire clay, later to be known as the famous MOUNT SAVAGE fire clay was discovered. Soon a brick yard was established and the product crude, according to the records, was equal to the best Stourbridge (England) bricks. Before long they began to sell fire brick to manufacturing establishments who were in need of this product and the fame of the product soon spread. It may be truly said that this was the first fire brick plant in United States, vest of the Allegany mountains. This plant then was the forerunner of the vest fire brick industry that has grown up since, in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Kentucky, Ohio, and other western states.
It may then be said that the fire brick division of this company, which started as a side line, rapidly grow to sizable proportions and when the iron mill failed in 1847, continued as the main industry in MOUNT SAVAGE. It should be borne in mind that the first MOUNT SAVAGE brand of fire brick were made here and that the many different brands of Savage brick made today by other manufacturers were copied after this famous brand.
In 1864 the Union Mining Company was incorporated in Allegany county taking over operations of the Mt Savage Fire Brick Works which started operations in 1841.
According to the records, as early as 1847, the company owned 8000 acres of valuable clay and coal lands and employed 1100 men. The daily production has increased during the years so that it now produce an excess of 100,000 nine inch equivalent per day.
For many years only hand made brick of first and second quality were produced. Mechanical contrivances were very few. The quality of the brick as good but the workmanship, of course, was poor when compared to the brick of today.
In 1944, the holdings of the Union Mining Company were sold at auction to Andrew Rost, who operated the Mount Savage Refractory's until his death. His son Robert took over operations and operated until 1987
1987: Mount Savage Refractory's moved operations to the Kaiser Refractory's Plant in Zihlman.
Thus comes to an end of over 150 years of manufacturing Fire Brick in Mt Savage.
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