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MDOT archaeologists explore Elkridge Furnace in Howard County

Posted at 7:57 PM, Jul 26, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-26 19:57:54-04

HANOVER, Md.  — Artifacts dating back to Colonial America are being uncovered this week by archaeologists from the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT).

This is all happening as they research two small cabins near the Elkridge Furnace in Howard County.

The iron furnace, part of the U.S. National Park Service's Underground Railroad Network to Freedom, used enslaved, indentured and convict labor.

The research team has uncovered brick floors, stone foundations and artifacts during excavations that began last week and continue through Friday. Researchers hope to determine the age of the buildings and their relationship to the historic furnace.

“Archaeology is our last chance to understand the lives of these iron furnace workers who endured horrific conditions,” said Dr. Schablitsky. “We are piecing together their life one ceramic sherd and lost button at a time,” said Dr. Julie Schablitsky, MDOT Chief of Cultural Resources. “We are piecing together their life one ceramic sherd and lost button at a time.”

The dig is a joint partnership between MDOT and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.

The Elkridge Furnace Complex is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Between the 18th and mid-19th century, the community was a center for the iron industry with the establishment of furnaces, businesses and homes along the Baltimore Washington Turnpike and railroad.