March 18, 1862
Horace Ware, founder of the Shelby Iron Works, sold most of the interest in his company for $150,000. A native of Massachusetts, Ware partnered with his father to construct several crude forges in Bibb and Shelby counties and, by the age of 20, was a leader in the state’s iron industry. He constructed the Shelby Iron Works, Alabama’s first permanent ironworks, in the 1840s and later added the state’s first rolling mill to produce 12 tons of marketable iron bar daily. The ironworks was a major supplier of iron to the Confederate arsenal until its destruction by Wilson’s Raiders in April 1865. Today, its ruins are located a few miles south of Columbiana, and a fall festival is held there each year.
Read more at Encyclopedia of Alabama.
Horace Ware (1812-1890) was a pioneer of Alabama’s iron industry. He built the first rolling mill and permanent iron works in the state. Ware’s Shelby Iron Works supplied armor plating to the Confederate Navy during the Civil War. (From Encyclopedia of Alabama, courtesy of Alabama Department of Archives and History)
Exterior view of the iron master’s house at Shelby Iron Works. The house was built in the 1840s. (Photograph by Jet Lowe in 1993, HAER, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division)
Shelby Iron Works ceased production in 1923 and its ruins can be seen just south of Columbiana on Highway 42. The iron works was built by Horace Ware in the 1840s and by the 1860s was one of Alabama’s most thriving industrial complexes. Shelby Iron Works shipped iron plating by rail to Selma to help outfit the Confederate Navy during the Civil War. (From Encyclopedia of Alabama, courtesy of Birmingham Public Library Archives)
For more on Alabama’s Bicentennial, visit Alabama 200.