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Washington Manufacturing Company

The origins of the Washington Manufacturing Company can be traced to 1812, when William Chester bought 260 acres near the mouth of Bumpass Cove in iron-rich Washington County and built a forge. He later sold this forge to third generation iron workers Elijah and Elihu Embree, who operated a small charcoal furnace on the Nolichucky River to meet the demands of the region's settlers. The Embrees added thousands of acres to Chester's original 260 acres and built forges, furnaces, and nail factories. By the 1820s they were widely known for their high quality cast and forged iron products. Elihu, who died in 1820, is better known for his abolitionist publications.

Elijah Embree put all his efforts into running the family iron works and created a sizable industrial empire. By the 1820s Embree's business employed several hundred men and was valued at $120,000. In 1830 Embree formed a partnership with Robert L. Blair, John Blair, William Blair, and three others which was known as the Washington Iron Manufacturing Company. After Embree's death in 1846, the company, now named Pleasant Valley Iron Works, became the largest producer of iron in East Tennessee. Over the decades, the company name and ownership changed several times. In 1917 the furnace, then owned by the Embreeville Iron Company, was wrecked and sold as scrap.

Suggested Reading

Thomas Wyman, "The British Misadventure in Embreeville," Tennessee Historical Quarterly 54 (1995): 98-111.

Published » December 25, 2009 | Last Updated » January 01, 2010