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Lime Kiln

 

 

 SHARON'S INDUSTRIAL MONUMENT

The most visible of the industrial remains of Sharon Valley is the lime kiln that stands at the base of the hill going west on Sharon Station Road. Constructed of local marble the kiln was operational for about thirty years in the later stage of Sharon's one hundred seventy-nine year industrial period.

When Sharon was incorporated as a town in 1739 the seeds and needs of industry and manufacture were in a developmental stage. Included among the many related industries was a long list of gristmills, sawmills, cider mills, flax mills, satinet and fulling mills, carriage and wagon shops, and other manufactures. In the nineteenth century even as the Hotchkiss Manufacturing Company in Sharon Valley produced hardware, tools, accessory farm items and successful exploding cannon shells used with great effectiveness in the Civil War, the Noyes Malleable Iron Works produced and sold thousands of Bostwick mouse traps annually. In Sharon Valley Bradley's Blast Furnace, later the Sharon Valley Iron Company, produced pig iron for seventy-three years, longer than any other of the blast furnaces in Connecticut.

In addition to the production of wrought iron in forges, pig iron in two blast furnaces and dozens of products from local resources, lime from the lowlands host rock, Stockbridge marble, became important in Sharon history. In the blast furnaces the marble was loaded with iron ore and charcoal for the smelting process. The intense heat of the blast furnace calcined the marble to lime which, serving as a flux, coalesed the impurities in the ore forming slag.

In 1814, Sharon's first commercial lime kiln was constructed near the west bank of Webutuck Creek in Sharon Valley. While little information concerning this kiln has been found, the debris covered remains suggests a rather substantial structure. In that period calcined lime was produced from marble quarried upstream along the Webutuck Creek and used almost entirely by farmers for the "sweetening" of upland soils.

Sharon's remarkable industrialist Captain Hiram Weed was best known for his charcoal production and blast furnace; he had been in the business of making lime prior to those activities. Weed's Quarry is located off the west side of White Hollow Road 0.3 miles north of the intersection with West Cornwall Road. Put into production prior in 1842, the quarry contained calcium carbonate marble of good quality.

Though private property the collapsed remains of Weed's Kiln may be easily observed from White Hollow Road about sixty feet west of utility pole #1268. Behind the kiln near the top of the hill the large bowl shaped area that was Weed's Quarry can also be observed from the road. Today the white bedrock of the quarry is covered by soil and leaves.

By 1843, perhaps earlier, Hiram Weed's kiln in White Hollow was in operation. Like the earlier model in the Valley this was an intermittent type kiln, one requiring the fire to die out and cool before the removal of the calcined lime. When the process was completed the calcined lime, also called burnt lime, was raked out and barreled. Following a significant cooling period the kiln was reloaded with a mixture of carbonate rock and charcoal fuel then fired again.

By the latter quarter of nineteenth century the demand for lime had increased considerably. The walls of many new homes were of lath construction to be covered with plaster, a derivative of lime. More houses were being painted and paints of the period were of a lime base. In addition new products were being developed that required lime.

In the mid-1S70s the Sharon Valley Lime Kiln was constructed as the first perpetual or continuing kiln in town. The kiln was built by superb furnace mason Isaac Newton Bartram who in local history proved to be the foremost craftsman, industrialist, manufacturer, politician, public servant and business entrepreneur of nineteenth century Sharon. Members of the Morehouse family owned and operated the kiln.

The Sharon Valley Kiln stack (outside structure) is constructed of Stockbridge dolomitic marble (calcium, magnesium carbonate) quarried at the kiln site. The foundation rests directly below the surface on solid bedrock of Stockbridge marble. The base is square measuring IS' 4" on each side with an original height of approximately 19' 4". The kiln was loaded at the top over a bridge extending from the bank on the west side reaching the extensive platform that once surrounded the kiln top.

To stabilize the stack firmly white oak timber binders were installed at two levels. The stack has two draft openings, one on the east side the other on the west side. Originally large hinged draft doors with adjustable slide openings to control the rate of interior combustion covered both drafts. The lime tap gate on the south face (front) of the stack is inset. At the bottom of the inset is an opening where workers raked the calcined lime out of the kiln. A cement floor covered the rake out area with a small shed-like structure over it to protect the lime from rain.

Barreled lime from the kiln was sold locally to farmers and builders at the kiln where the purchasers hauled it off by horse and wagon. The barreled product was also transported to Sharon Station where it was shipped by rail to other locations. The kiln was operated until about 1905 when most of the others industries in Sharon Valley had already closed.

In 1924 Edwin C. Jameson purchased the two acres upon which the kiln stood. Mr. Jameson sold it to the town in 1941. In 2002 The Sharon Historical Society began the project of preserving the structure, a process that continues today. Now with informational signs at the site the kiln remains as a monument to the former industries of Sharon.

EMK

Last Updated (Tuesday, 19 November 2013 15:29)

 
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