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Hale & Murdock Iron Furnaces in Lamar County, Alabama



Hale and Murdock Iron Furnaces historical marker was dedicated on March 23, 2002 in Vernon. The old Hale and Murdock furnace was located about 150 yards to the south of Highway 18 West. Hale and Murdock Furnace was the only ironworks in Alabama to escape Union attack during the Civil War.

Built in 1859, by Harrision Hale and Abraham Murdock, manufacturers and merchants from Columbus, Mississippi, the works also included the nearby Wilsonís Creek Forge erected in 1857. Hale and Murdock also built and operated some of the first cotton mills in Mississippi.

A new furnace erected by Joseph Weston, replaced the older one in Vernon, in 1862 and employed 150 men. Much of the labor used in furnace construction and operation was slave labor, the Confederate government supplying the skilled workmen.

Brown iron ore, found in nearby deposits, and charcoal made from local forests, were utilized in the manufacture of pig iron and castings including hollow ware, plow points and later war material.

Because these works were off the federal line of march, the plant escaped destruction and operated for about four years after the war ended. In January of 1870, the company went out of business due to lack of transportation and competition from more favorable located furnaces. Its remaining assets were sold at public action. A decade later Alabamaís iron industry would be centered in Birmingham.

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