Amateur archaeologist finds old furnace

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RICHMOND, Va. - The ruins of a 17th century iron blast
furnace found in Chesterfield County is believed to be
the first ironworks in English North America and the
earliest known evidence of heavy industry in the New
World, county officials said Friday.

County public utilities employee Ralph Lovern, an
amateur archaeologist who often searches the area for
Indian artifacts, uncovered the furnace along the
banks of Falling Creek.

Historians say the furnace was built around 1619 by
the Virginia Company of England.

Archaeologists and historians have known for years
that an ironworks operated in the area. Heavy rains
late last year caused flooding that cut a new channel
along the creek's banks that exposed the ruins.

The base of the furnace is submerged in several feet
of water and can be seen at low tide, officials said.

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