Kentucky has had a long and colorful history of iron production over the years. As part of this iron production process, large furnaces had to be built to facilitate the iron production. There were many of these furnaces built across the Bluegrass State, with a few of them still standing today. Among them is the Clear Creek Iron Furnace.

Located in the Clear Creek Picnic Area in the Bathe County portion of the forest, this is an extremely easy trip that provides you with the chance to step back in history. It’s definitely worth a visit!

NOTE: The Clear Creek Picnic Area is only open from mid-April to mid-October. Plan accordingly.

Getting There

As already mentioned, the furnace is located within the Clear Creek Picnic area, which is near the town of Salt Lick, Kentucky. The furnace itself is right there in the picnic area, no hike required. You really can’t miss it!

The following Google Map should help you get there.

History Of The Furnace

The Clear Creek Iron Furnace, Daniel Boone National Forest, Kentucky.
The remains of the Clear Creek Iron Furnace.

This little trip is especially of interest to history buffs, so let’s take a moment to examine some of the history of The Clear Creek Iron Furnace.

The furnace was first built in 1839, but later rebuilt in 1872. During this time, the iron industry was booming in Kentucky. The iron was used for everything from household products to the wheels for the booming railroad trains. In fact, Kentucky ranked third in the nation for pig iron production.

Like most of the other iron furnaces throughout the region, the Clear Creek Furnace used charcoal as a fuel source. This meant that the 3 tons of iron it produced every day consumed about a half acre worth of trees!

The area was complete with a small village, which contained a school, laundry services, a church and even a store.

Fast forward to 1873 when a financial panic struck the region. Both the iron and railroad industries took a significant hit during this time, forcing the Clear Creek furnace to shut down.

Go Check it Out

The Clear Creek Iron Furnace is considered to be one of the best preserved iron furnaces in the region! This combined with the ease of access and interesting history makes it a worthwhile day trip. Maybe even pack a lunch and enjoy the amenities that the Clear Creek Picnic Area has to offer.