Ruins at Cooper's Furnace Day Use Area, Cartersville, Georgia
Ruins at Cooper's Furnace Day Use Area, Cartersville, Georgia

These ruins of an old iron furnace are all that remains of the lost Georgia city of Etowah. From a booming industrial town to Civil War ruins, this area has been left to time. The ruins are open to explore and so is the surrounding forest which makes for an interesting outdoor adventure.


Founded by Jacob Stroup in 1830s, the city of Etowah once stretched for about a mile on the fertile banks of the river. The city quickly grew to be filled with cabins for housing and factories such as milling and iron works. His son Moses saw the possibility to expand on local manufacturing.

Moses Stroup built a large iron works on the banks of the Etowah River. He hired people in the area to help operate the large furnaces and soon grew to become a successful business. The furnace standing today was a cold-blast furnace. This type of furnace first ignited charcoal dumped from the top then layered with locally sourced materials of charcoal, iron ore and limestone. The furnace got so hot it would turn the limestone molten and would rise to the top to be taken off as slag. Once the iron reached the liquid state, it would sink to the bottom to be drained into a trench to create pig iron that would then be sold off.

In 1847, Congressman Mark Anthony Cooper and financier Andrew M. Wiley purchased the iron furnaces from Moses Stroup. Under Cooper, the furnace operated on average 45 weeks a year with little downtime which allowed him to produce up to 1,350 tons of pig iron annually. In the 1850s, the pig iron could be sold for about $25 a ton, which proved to be a profitable venture.

Inside Furnace Ruins at Cooper's Furnace Day Use Area, Cartersville, Georgia
Inside Furnace Ruins at Cooper’s Furnace Day Use Area, Cartersville, Georgia

Cooper expanded much of the area and even owned a flour mill, nail factory, and a foundry that produced a variety of items such as cannons and cooking pots. As the industries grew, so did the city and a hotel even sprouted up. The town was connected to nearby Cartersville via a spur track. The Yonah switch engine hauled freight from Etowah out to the connecting railroad at Etowah Crossing for the Western and Atlantic (W&A) Railroad.

During the Civil War on April 12, 1862, the small town of Etowah and the Yonah locomotive made history. A few members of the Union Army commandeered The General and headed north on the W&A line from Atlanta north to Chattanooga. As they traveled, the Union soldiers wanted to greatly damage the rail lines in hopes to deter supplies and transit into the South. As they traveled north, Confederate soldiers followed them for 87-miles. On that 87-mile trek, the Confederates spotted the Yonah in Etowah and used it to chase the General. Other locomotives used included the William R. Smith and the Texas. The Texas chased the General and finally the Union soldiers, who had been unable to stop with the Confederates on their pursuit, ran out of wood for the locomotive just 18-miles south of Chattanooga. The entire adventure became known as the Great Locomotive Chase.

Copper continued to operate the furnace during the Civil War to help supply the Confederacy. However, in 1864, General Sherman on his infamous March to the Sea, destroyed much of the city of Etowah to which little was ever rebuilt.

Today, Etowah no longer exists except for this one sole iron furnace that once produced tons of pig iron each year. Looking around the woods today, it is hard to imagine the small city was ever here.

Etowah River from Cooper's Furnace Day Use Area, Cartersville, Georgia
Etowah River from Cooper’s Furnace Day Use Area, Cartersville, Georgia

Plan Your Visit

The Old Iron Furnace Ruins are in Cooper’s Furnace Day Use Area at 1052 Old River Road SE in Cartersville, Georgia.

Within the park are several hiking trails and even some pavilions and barbecues for picnics. The Etowah River flows alongside the park with opportunities for fishing or kayaking, however the dam is just upstream, and caution is advised. Be alert for sirens or changing water levels.

If you enjoyed reading this post or have visited the Cooper’s Furnace Day Use Area before, leave a comment below or share this post on your favorite social media!



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here