The Copake Iron Works was established in 1845 along the Bash Bish Brook near the Massachusetts border by Lemuel Pomeroy (1788-1849). Pomeroy was a prosperous businessman from Pittsfield, MA. After operating an iron furnace in nearby Ancram, NY for the Livingston family, and being involved with the New York and Albany Railroad he started the Copake Iron Works. In 1853 he encouraged the New York and Harlem Railroad to expand the rail line to the ironworks and growing hamlet of Copake Falls Ironworks. Remarkably, the Ironmasters house and some worker housing from this early period are intact today.
In 1861, John Beckley of Cannan, CT purchased the Iron Works. He sold it one year later to Frederick Miles (1815-1896) of Salisbury, CT. Miles elevated the operation to new heights and the Copake Iron Works developed a reputation for producing high quality iron products such as railroad wheels and axles. Miles also replaced the first furnace with the one that is still on site today and being stabilized by the Friends of Taconic State Park. Miles, who served in Congress with future Presidents James Garfield and William McKinley, entrusted the day-to-day operations to his son William A. Miles. Thanks to William, and with the good fortune of what is still standing at the property, the Copake Iron Works constitutes the largest group of iron-making remnants in the larger tri-state “Iron Heritage” area. In 2016, the Copake Iron Works was designated a Hudson River Valley National Heritage area by the National Parks Service.
The Copake Iron Works Museum showcases iron-making artifacts, and some 25 interpretative signs throughout the beautiful natural setting illustrate iron-making operations in great detail. Friends of Taconic State Park (Friends) supports the activities of the Taconic State Park – Copake Falls Area, with an emphasis on the preservation of the historic Copake Iron Works. The Friends group staff the museum every weekend in season and takes visitors into the blast furnace.
Parking is plentiful for cars and buses and there are also picnic facilities at the museum. Stop on over for a visit.
Post by Jim Mackin, Friends of Taconic State Park