By James A. Mulholland
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Extra info for A History of Metals in Colonial America
Edward Neal Hartley has shown that the erection of a furnace for even £1,300 would have been an exceptional feat considering the high labor costs and the need to import skilled workmen and materials. 51 Some distance from the furnace at Braintree, a forge was constructed that cost nearly as much as the furnace installation. When the furnace was abandoned in 1647 for lack of ore, the forge remained in operation to process ingot coming from a new blast furnace erected by the undertakers on the Saugus River at Lynn.
If the metals necessary to support European material culture were not to be found in the colonies, Europe would have to supply them, and, though gold and silver were desirable, iron was indispensable. It should not be surprising, therefore, that within a few decades, both Virginia and Massachusetts were the sites of ambitious ironworks, but each venture reflected the corresponding values present in the founding of the colony. The Virginia ironworks at Falling Creek were started in the spirit of mercantile exploitation, to provide iron for England.
When the Roanoke colony failed in 1589 after a brief existence, he sold his rights in Virginia to a company of London merchants, while reserving to himself one-fifth of all the gold and silver subsequently discovered there. Shortly afterward, Raleigh's attentions were directed to the Orinoco region of South America, where the fabulous treasure ofEI Dorado supposedly waited. 45 In all respects, Sir Walter Raleigh typified the gold-fever mentality that dominated English perceptions of the New World throughout the sixteenth century.