In those days when investors were looking for places to invest, it sounded like a wonderful opportunity for citizens of the Tuscarawas Valley, and it was, at least in 1871.
At that time, the southern parts of the county around Newcomerstown and Port Washington were found to have large deposits of black band iron. These iron deposits were familiar to the Scottish Investors because of the similar seams of the mineral being mined in Lanark and Ayr counties in Scotland. During the mid and late 1800’s these counties were know as iron producing centers and in Scotland, these iron bands were accompanied by deposits of No. 6 and No. 7 coal. These deposits of coal were mined at the same time as the iron ore and used in the smelting process giving the Scottish producers competitive advantages over having to mine the minerals separately. At about this same time, Andrew Carnegie, a famous investor with Scottish roots in Pittsburgh, and not likely associated with the endeavors in the Tuscarawas County, was about his business of building an empire on the Iron, Coal and Railroad industries.
The deposits of black iron bands found in Tuscarawas County are very similar to those in Scotland with one exception. The depth and the coal and iron ore are found in what can best be described as "Bowls" with varying thickness between the middle of the deposit and its edges whereas the Scottish deposits were in long horizontal formations with somewhat more consistency of thickness. The major and most important difference in the Scottish and Tuscarawas County minerals is the quality of the coal found at those locations. In Tuscarawas County coal appears to the eye to be high quality in color but upon closer examination, the Scotts found it to contain large amounts of impregnated sulfur. This sulfur made it unfit for use in iron making, both in its raw state or as a coke.
The quality of the black band iron was well known to the American "Furnace Men" and on occasions, the furnaces of Dover and of Massillon Ohio used the Tuscarawas County Black band iron combined with Lake superior ore to produce a high quality product known as "American Scotch" The Reeves Steel Mill of Dover may have well known and taken advantage this metallurgical marvel.
In 1871, several Scottish investors, living in the United States heard of the black bands in Tuscarawas County and made there way to the area. The investors, not unlike today’s savvy entrepreneurs, ceased upon the opportunity to carry the news back to there fellow "Furnace Men" of Glasgow Scotland. A group of Scottish investors was quick to send there engineer to examine and to verify the reports from the Tuscarawas Valley. The reports were favorable from the engineer and the investors, incorporate under the laws of England, gave the name of the new venture Glasgow-Port Washington Iron and Coal Company. The company purchased twelve hundred acres of land, about one and a half miles north of the Pittsburgh, Cincinnati and St. Louis Railroad. In the writings of Roy Andrew from the 15-Nov-1884 issue of the Ohio Mining Journal pg 10-15, he can be quoted as saying "The Company were greatly elated over their American Property, and as they expressed it, "would coin money among the feet of the Americans."
The area described above is known today as "Glasgow" a small un-incorporated village located just to the East of Interstate 77 between Newcomerstown and Port Washington. The village and its founders no doubt took the name Glasgow from the city back in Scotland where many of the inhabitants and the furnace owners resided. Among the many Scots coming to the area was a gentleman by the name of Robert Shaw. Mr Shaw managed the facility for many years and made his home in the village of Glasgow. Many of the Shaw descendants still live around Tuscarawas County and Northern Guernsey Counties.
The remains of what once was a bee hive of activity in the tiny village are all but lost to history. By August of 1874, the investors had erected two large, state of the art blast furnaces to process the iron, one of which was never to go into service. The stacks of the mill towered 75 feet above the surrounding area and measured some 17 ½ feet in diameter. The furnace stoves were19 feet in diameter and 20 feet high and the two blast engines had steam cylinders some 3 feet in diameter and 4 feet long, even larger were the air cylinders being 4 feet in diameter and 8 feet long, truly a monumental tribute to the industrial and technological capability of the day.
The cost at that time, for the furnaces and the steam powered blowing engines was $394,000 and in today’s dollars, it would be about 1.2 million dollars. Strangely enough, a fire-brick establishment was built on the site at a cost of $37,000 but it was claimed the quality of the clay was never sufficient for fire brick manufacturing. This was brought into question as years latter; many brick manufacturing companies appeared around the area. In order to transport the expected massive quantities of Iron, a branch road was built from the furnaces to the Pan Handle Railroad at a cost of $60,000 dollars bringing the total outlay, before the start of the furnaces to ½ million dollars or almost 1.5 million in today’s dollars. In today’s business environment, this would be quite a start up investment for such a risky venture.
In August of 1874, the one furnace was fired and continued to run for almost two years. The financial losses mounted and from the start of the firing, the coal and in the form of coke proved to be unfit for producing quality iron. In an attempt to salvage the business, the manager of the company purchased Connellsville coke to improve the process and quality of the iron. The introduction of the Connellsville coke was only a limited success but it did improve the quality and productivity. The added cost of $4.70 per ton from the distant mine site only aggravated and accelerated the financial losses. The owners of the mine next purchased large tracts of land containing limestone. The tracts of land were a long distance from the furnaces but it was hoped the additive would help improve competitiveness and reduce cost. The property, some 130 acres of coal lands purchased in Westmoreland County Pennsylvania contained superior coal to the Tuscarawas County’s poor grade of coal. Not unlike previous endeavors, the limestone and coal being located a long distance, proved to be less economical than the Connellsville coke.
The mounting financial losses caused the furnaces to become idle starting in 1876 until January of 1880. During the time the furnaces were idle, the owners and managers continued there attempts to revive there undertaking. Attempts were made in 1877 to find new sources of higher quality coals and limestone in the nearby area. A total of 3 holes were drilled down through the upper layers hoping to locate better quality coal in the underlying Cuyahoga shale where the Briar Hill or Massillon coal deposits might be found. The initial drilling was successful in finding good quality coal at the depths, but as fortune would have it, the quantity of the coal was insufficient and mere traces could be found of the badly needed black rock.
The Scottish investors and managers were determined to make a go of the Iron Works and next turned to experimenting with the #4 & #5 coal found on their property. This coal could be found in 2 ½ to 3 ½ feet of thickness. The #5 coal seemed to be a candidate that could save the day for the failing venture. A sample was sent to Pittsburg for analysis by a Dr. Hayes. During this time, testing was performed in the furnaces of a Jamestown, Pennsylvania company to determine the process ability, with somewhat encouraging results. The company in Johnstown, Cambria Iron performed the furnace test and reported the coke had good cellular structure and with due diligence, could produce a 1st class furnace fuel. Meanwhile, Dr. Hayes reported the coal was superior to the coal from the area and identical in sulfur content of the New Castle (England) coke containing less than 3% ash.
In 884, Andrew Roy wrote in the OHIO MINING JOURNAL that he had made a trip in 1878 to visit the Glasgow-Port Washington Iron and Company. What he witnessed impressed him with regard to the high quality, newly mined coal lying around the property. The coal contained iron pyrites, but they were distributed throughout the seam in horizontal layers and he believed the quality could have been improved by the miners selecting the best coal at the time of excavation or by sorting the coal before sending it out of the mine. The perseverance seemed to have paid off for the investors and managers of the company and in the fall of 1879, preparation were made to blow again. In early January 1880, one furnace was re-started and the other furnace was made ready for production. The manager of the facility was so confident that he had an incline road built from the mine to the furnace.
The second attempt with the newly mined coal proved to be as disastrous as the first and the company lost heavily having to revert to the Connellsville coke to properly process the iron. The Mine Manager, himself a chemist, made repeated analysis of the coal as did Dr. Hayes, of Pittsburgh and additional production testing was made at the Cambria Iron Company in their blast furnaces at Johnstown. Regardless of the attempts to understand the complexity of the coal being mined in Southern Tuscarawas County, the outcome was inevitable. The price of Iron in the market dropped, creating conditions the Scottish Investors and managers could not overcome. In May of 1881, the furnace shut down for the last time, never to be used at the location again and by the spring of 1882, the works were sold to a firm in Pittsburgh. The American enterprise in Southern Tuscarawas County cost the Scottish Investors nearly three million in today’s dollars. The added frustration of not being able to answer the puzzle of coal in the area, no doubt haunted those involved for many years to come.