(Temporarily) Switching Gears

Greetings after a brief hiatus! While the white paper detailing the results  and recommendations from the plant collections management database system evaluation continues to develop, I thought I’d switch gears momentarily to let you know you’re stuck with me for another year. I’ll be remaining with OCLP after the plant collections grant wraps up to help with the Saugus Ironworks National Historic Site cultural landscape report and management plan. The ironworks at Saugus were the first successful model of their kind in the US colonies, where iron was both melted and manipulated into tools, weapons, and hardware. Considered the birthplace of the US steel and iron industry, the set up at Saugus was revolutionary for its time and relied on advanced technology to be productive for several decades in the mid-1600s. Much of the success of the ironworks was derived from the physical landscape. The construction relied heavily on embracing natural landscape benefits, such as topography, and manipulating features, such as routing waterways over large wooden wheels, to create sustainable power for the ironworks. The dense forests that existed at the time created ample fuel to fire the ironworks, solving the British iron industry’s deforestation crisis. The cultural history of human activity during the ironworks operation reflects the method of embracing the existing features and, at least attempting to, manipulate those that were incompatible with progress. While the puritan community relied heavily on the commercial benefits of the ironworks, they clashed frequently with the skilled workers’ less pious nature. These criticisms ranged from alcoholism and domestic violence to displays of conspicuous consumption abhorred by the puritan leaders. In 1651, puritan leaders enforced the Sumptuary Law which included a ten shilling fine for wearing expensive clothing, as detailed in part below:

[We] declare our utter detestation and disklike that men or women of meane condition, educations, and calling should take uppon them the barbe of gentlemen, by the wearing of gold or silver lace, or buttons, or poynts on their knees, to walke in great bootes.


Over the past few weeks, I’ve been working my way through a history of the 1948-1953 excavation of the ironworks, and did some map recon with Eliot (above) at an insurance library, though the real work on the ironworks project won’t begin until January. I wanted to blog about it now, however, because this weekend they’re firing up the furnace at the ironworks to create molten iron which will be poured into an arrowhead. Anyone interested in attending should plan to arrive by 11am, with the pour scheduled for noon at the latest. Using high-tech photo simulation, I got a couple friends (who own a car!) excited about going with me – I’ll update the blog next week with molten iron photos, but for now, this anticipatory photo will have to do:


One response to “(Temporarily) Switching Gears

  1. Ella: I am looking forward to working with you on this incredibly interesting project. Thanks for sharing.


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