Tannehill Furnace

3 mi. E of U.S. 11, Abernant, Alabama



The Tannehill Ironworks is a state historic site in Tuscaloosa County near the unincorporated town of Bucksville.

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, it was a major supplier of iron for Confederate ordnance. Remains of the old furnaces are the central attraction of Tannehill Ironworks Historical State Park located 12 miles (19 km) south of Bessemer, Alabama off I-59/20 near the southern end of the Appalachian Mountains.

The 1,500 acre (6 kmē) historical park also includes the John Wesley Hall Grist Mill, May Plantation Cotton Gin House and the Iron & Steel Museum of Alabama.

Ironmaking at the site began with construction of a bloomery forge by Daniel Hillman Sr. in 1830.

Built by noted southern ironmaster Moses Stroup from 1859 to 1862, the three charcoal blast furnaces at Tannehill could produce 22 tons of pig iron a day, most of which was shipped to the Naval Gun Works and Arsenal at Selma. Furnaces Nos. 2 and 3 were equipped with hot blast stoves and a steam engine. Brown iron ore mines were present two miles (3 km) distant.

The Tannehill furnaces and its adjacent foundry, where kettles and hollow-ware were cast for southern troops, were attacked and burnt by three companies of the U.S. 8th Iowa Cavalry on March 31, 1865 (Wilson's Raid). The ruins remain today as one the best preserved 19th century iron furnace sites in the South.

Also known as the Roupes Valley Iron Company, these works had significant influence on the later development of the Birmingham iron and steel industry. An experiment conducted at Tannehill in 1862 proved red iron ore could successfully be used in Alabama blast furnaces. The test, promoted by South & North Railroad developers, led to the location of government-financed ironworks in the immediate Birmingham area (Jefferson County).

The furnace remains, including reconstructed portions, are an American Society for Metals historical landmark and have been designated as a Civil War Discovery Trail site. The park attracted over 425,000 visitors in 2005.

National Register information 

Posted to the National Register of Historic Places on July 24, 1972
Reference number
Area of significance
Level of significance
Evaluation criteria
A - Event
Property type
Historic function
Manufacturing facility
Current function
Period of significance
Significant years
1859; 1863

Update Log 

  • May 27, 2011: Updated by WillyT: Added description