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Trip Report Saugus Iron Works

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Although I have lived north of Boston for several years and knew that it existed, I visited Saugus Iron Works National Historic Site for the first time just this fall. In fact, I liked it so much the first time (when I was able to take only one of the two tours) that I went back recently to do the other! If you are interested in American industrial history, or just in a part of colonial history that most people overlook, then I highly recommend visiting it (the iron works was in operation for only a brief period, 1646-1670).

Admission is free. You can visit the museum and walk around the site at your leisure, but it is better to go on one of the hour-long ranger-led tours, as that way you get to see the machinery operating at the reconstructed industrial site, and there is no other way to see the seventeenth-century house except on a tour. If you only have time for one, it definitely should be the industrial site tour. The waterwheels, giant bellows, and 500-pound hammer are pretty impressive! The house tour is interesting as well, though – and for what you learn about restorations of old houses in general as much as what you learn about this one in particular.

The Saugus Iron Works is celebrated as the birthplace of the American iron and steel industry and is a National Engineering Landmark as well as a National Historic Site. It is located just north of the center of Saugus, off US Route 1 northeast of Boston. The site consists of a visitor center/gift shop; a museum with interpretive displays (including artifacts found at the site) and a short film; reconstructions of the blast furnace, forge, and slitting mill; a blacksmith shop used by park employees; a dock at the Saugus River; and a restored 1680 house that post-dates the iron works.

For information on opening hours, tour times, and special events (such as when they have blacksmithing demonstrations or iron casting), visit the park website (http://www.nps.gov/sair/index.htm). Note that it is open only April 1 - October 31 and is closed November 1 - March 31 (so get there soon, or wait until next year!).

For an NPS-prepared lesson plan (for schoolteachers) on the Saugus Iron Works that will give you an overview of the history of the site, check out http://www.nps.gov/nr/twhp/wwwlps/lessons/30saugus/30saugus.htm

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