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Groups say quarry is on site of historic cannon foundry

November 25, 2004|by TARA REILLY

tarar@herald-mail.com

WASHINGTON COUNTY - Two historic preservation groups are opposed to the proposed mining of about 80 acres in the Mount Aetna Road area, saying the site was used to make cannons during the American Revolution and that historic artifacts probably are still buried in the ground.

The Washington County Historical Trust and the Maryland Historical Trust oppose a proposal by H.B. Mellott Estate Inc. to rezone 80.33 acres in an agriculture zone on the east side of Mapleville Road (Md. 66) and north of the Interstate 70 intersection.

H.B. Mellott has requested of the county that an industrial mineral floating zone be placed over the agriculture zone to allow the company to expand its mining operations.

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Susan W. Trail, of the Maryland Historical Trust's Advisory Committee, wrote in a Nov. 15 letter to the Washington County Historical Trust, that the site contains the remnants of Mount Aetna Furnace, which probably was built in 1775 or 1776.

John F. Krowka, acting chairman and secretary of the Washington County Historical Trust, submitted the letter to the county during a Nov. 15 public hearing on the rezoning proposal.

Trail, who has done research on the property, wrote that the furnace was constructed in the 18th century to make cannons used by the Colonials during the Revolutionary War.

The furnace made cast iron household items in the 19th century, Trail wrote.

Trail wrote that the archaeological remains at the furnace site "hold great potential for revealing much about cannon casting technology in the American colonies."

"In addition, this site is part of a much larger, well-preserved ironmaking complex that combined provides a rich physical archive of 18th century industrial processes and development," Trail wrote.

She wrote that the Mount Aetna Furnace was part of the Antietam Iron Furnace, which is located behind the Mount Aetna Fire Hall.

Krowka testified at the Nov. 15 hearing that the property should be preserved because of its "high level of national significance."

"To approve the rezoning because we don't have a complete picture of what's underneath the ground or how it would affect the community would be a great mistake," Krowka said.

The Washington County Commissioners and the Washington County Planning Commission will hold another public hearing on the proposed rezoning on Dec. 13 at 7 p.m. at Hagerstown Community College's Kepler Theater.

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