The 17th century settlers of Massachusetts Bay Colony needed a variety of supplies to build the colony. They bought some supplies with them but needed a source for additional materials. From 1646 to 1668 a company called Saugus Iron Works produced the wrought iron bars that were used to manufacture goods, including axes, saws hoes, nails, pots, skillets and more.
The iron works was set along the Saugus River in Eastern Massachusetts between Boston and Salem. This plant was the first iron-making plant in colonial America. The ironworks eventually closed due to poor management, high costs, and competition from imported iron works.
Saugus Iron Works National Historic Site
While the ironworks went out of business the impact of the company continued. Many of the workers moved to different regions around New England and continued to work in the iron industry. Saugus is considered to have helped start the United States iron and steel industry.
One of the amazing things about visiting Saugus Iron Works NHS is being able to see a blast furnace, forge, rolling mill, warehouse and working waterwheels. The site is easily walkable and you can walk in and out of the warehouses and working areas.
Saugus Iron Works
Top things to do at Saugus Iron Works National Historic Site
Visit the Visitor Center
The visitor center is housed in the 1680’s Iron Works House mansion that is still standing in the original location.
There is a small store in the visitor center along with great info on the park. You can pick up some old school candies including Horehound Slugs and Sassafras Slugs.
Become a Saugus Iron Works NHS Junior Ranger
The Saugus Iron Works Junior Ranger program is a bit different from other parks we have visited. When you check in at the visitor center they give you an adventure backpack with binoculars, a bird id card, note pad, info on the iron works and a few other things. You are sworn in at the counter and given your badge before being sent out into the park to explore and learn more about the park.
Visit the museum
The museum showcases many of the artifacts that were found during the 1940-50s archaeological dig performed on site.
Watch the park movie – Iron Works on the Saugus
The 12-minute park video does a great job explaining the history of Saugus Iron Works. This is a really great way to learn more about the site and the history of the area. The video plays on demand in a couple of different languages.
Tour the grounds
The grounds are ADA accessible and include a 1/4 mile nature trail. You can walk into the Forge and other buildings on the site. Be prepared for the weather. There is shade in the buildings but the rest of the grounds are out in the open.
Things to know when planning a trip to Saugus Iron Works National Historic Site
244 Central St
Saugus, MA 01906
From Interstate 95 Northbound: Take exit 43 to Walnut Street. Turn right onto Walnut Street. Dive 2.3 miles, then turn right onto Central Street. Stay on Central Street for 1.1 miles. Turn left to stay on Central Street (road makes a sharp turn).
From Interstate 95 Southbound: Take exit 43 to Walnut Street. Turn left onto Walnut Street. Drive 2.3 miles and turn right onto Central Street. Stay on Central Street for 1.1 Miles. Turn left to stay on Central Street (road makes a sharp turn).
The bathrooms are located across from the visitor center right when you enter into the park.
We visited the park on our way to Boston Logan Airport. It was a quick 20 minute drive to the airport from the park.
Park Hours – 10 am to 5 pm daily
The park is closed November 1 – April 31
Entrance Fee – There is no fee to visit this park
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