Joppa Iron Works

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The Joppa Iron Works, also known as Patterson's Iron Works was founded around 1817 by Joseph and Edward Patterson of Baltimore, the brothers of Elizabeth Patterson Bonaparte, the sister-in-law of Napoleon I of France.

Built on the "Long Calm" portion of the Big Gunpowder River in eastern Baltimore County, Maryland, the plant was started as a slitting and nail-making company. Located about 0.75 mile below current-day Maryland Route 7, it eventually had six puddling furnaces, one heating furnace, and 37 water-powered nail machines.[1] Until the original dam was built at the Loch Raven Reservoir in 1881, the water depth at the Joppa Iron Works site was much deeper, facilitating shipments in and out of the area by seagoing vessels.

The Joppa Iron Works were on the Great Gunpowder not quite a mile from its embouchure and near Divers Island. They were operated up to the commencement of the civil war and their product was well known in all the markets. They consisted of a large rolling mill nail works and forges. First-class vessels came up the river to the island and the embankments for the wharves are still visible. Where the main channel of the Gunpowder once was and where sea going ships rode at anchor is now a corn field on the Mount Peru estate. One rolling mill an immense stone structure abandoned more than twenty years ago still stands and is almost covered by the rank luxuriance of the Virginia creeper. The works were owned and operated by that Patterson family of which Madame Elizabeth Patterson Bonaparte was a member, who sold the whole tract of one hundred and thirty four acres known as Bald Hill to the city of Baltimore for water privileges for twenty thousand dollars. The city resold it and it is now the property of Levi Furstenburg. John Thomas Scharf, 1881[2]

The Joppa Iron Works closed around 1865 with the death of Edward Patterson. The Loreley Distilling Company eventually purchased the property and distilled whiskey on the site after Prohibition, and eventually sold to the Frank L. Wight Distilling Co., now part of Heublein Inc. The distillery was then purchased by Hiram Walker & Sons of Canada and subsequently shut down when production moved to their Peoria, Illinois, facility.

Few remnants of the iron works that remain; a large flat area sits where the business stood. As late as the 1970s, an old ship's mooring ring was seen in the area. Remnants of slag from the furnaces can still be found in the area. In 1970, the property was acquired by the Department of Forest & Parks Maryland and is now part of the Gunpowder State Park.

External links[edit]

  • Marks, David (2008-01-25). "Perry Hall: The Gunpowder River". Baltimore County Public Library History and Genealogy InfoCenter, Baltimore County History. Archived from the original on April 22, 2008. Retrieved 2014-06-15. 


  1. ^ McGrain, John W. "From Pig Iron to Cotton Duck", p. 212.
  2. ^ Scharf, John Thomas (1881). History of Baltimore City and County, from the Earliest Period to the Present Day: Including Biographical Sketches of Their Representative Men. L.H. Everts. p. 925. 
  • McGrain, John W. (1985) "From Pig Iron to Cotton Duck, Volume 1." Towson, MD: Baltimore Co., pages 212-214.

Coordinates: 39°24′45″N 76°23′41″W / 39.41250°N 76.39472°W / 39.41250; -76.39472