The Oregon (Oswego) Furnace is the only surviving charcoal iron furnace in the western United States.
On January 26, 1864, Henry Dodge Green bought four acres for the Oregon Iron Company smelter site. On February 23/24, 1865, prompted by the earlier discovery of iron ore in the Tualatin Valley, the Oregon Iron Co. was incorporated. Within two years the first blast furnace on the west coast was built, patterned after the arched furnaces common in northwestern (Salisbury) Connecticut. Other companies such as the Oswego Iron Company and the Oregon Iron and Steel Company (OI&S) followed. These companies were intent on making Oswego into the "Pittsburgh of the West".
On April 1, 1866, George Wilbur from Connecticut contracted to build Oregon Iron Co. furnace. In 1867, the case of Oswego Milling Co. v. Oregon Iron Co. dealt with the Water rights dispute per dam on west end of "Sucker" Lake (now Oswego Lake).
In 1877, the case of Oswego Iron Co. (Samuel H. Brown, Ernest W. Crichton) v. Oregon Iron Co. dealt with the Foreclosure of Oregon Iron Co. Assets auctioned to Brown & Crichton. On March 8, 1878, Oswego Iron Company was incorporated by Brown & Crichton (Oregon Iron Co. assets from sheriff's auction).
In 1879, Bishop Scott sold 446 acre parcel to Oswego Iron Co. (Brown & Crichton). In 1880, Oswego Iron Co. sold to Simeon Gannett Reed (Oregon Iron & Steel Co.). In April 22, 1882, Oregon Iron & Steel was incorporated.
The Portland and Willamette Valley Railroad (P&WVR) arrived in Oswego in 1886/1887. A seven-mile-long line provided Oswego with a direct link to Portland (Elk Rock) (Closely held by Oregon Iron & Steel principals). Prior to this, access to Oswego was limited to primitive roads and river boats. The railroad's arrival promoted residential development along its path, which enabled the town to grow beyond its industrial roots.
In 1888, the Second Smelter, Oregon Iron & Steel Co. was operational (furnace blown in October). By 1890, the industry had the capacity to produce 12,305 tons of pig iron, and at its peak provided employment to around 300 men. The success of this industry greatly stimulated the development of Oswego, which by this time had four general stores, a bank, two barber shops, two hotels, three churches, nine saloons, a drugstore, and even an opera house.
However, the continued expansion of the National freight railroad system gave easy local access to cheaper and higher quality iron from the Great Lakes region. This ultimately led to Oswego industry's demise. In 1894, the Second Smelter, Oregon Iron & Steel Co. was closed. Oregon Portland Cement Co. bought the second smelter site in 1916.
Instructions for logging waymark: A photograph is required of you (or your GPS receiver, if you are waymarking solo) and the place.