Before the settlement of Cranberry, the area was already known for one of the largest veins of iron ore in the United States. During the Civil War, iron was produced for the Confederate Army. In 1882, the East Tennessee and Western North Carolina Railroad ("Tweetsie") linked Cranberry with Johnson City, Tennessee; it was later extended on to Montezuma in 1904, eventually reaching Boone by 1919. During this time, Cranberry was incorporated as a town until sometime after 1929 when the Cranberry Furnace was closed. Eventually the railroad to Cranberry was decommissioned in 1950.