From the first firing of the blast furnace in 1844 Katahdin Iron Works had to cope with its remote location and problems in smelting the local iron sulphide ore. Several different owners saw KIW through expansion and lean times. It survived destructive fires and a railroad was built to lower transportation costs. But the iron works which remained a relatively small scale, inefficiently operation, was finally closed due to outside competition. In March 1890, the Piscataquis Observer reported the end of this fascinating and unique chapter in Maine's history. The people who opened the Katahdin Iron Works in 1843 built an iron works, town and roads in this remote location. By 1884, during the height of the KIW operation, the village had grown to include the homes of 200 workers. The 1880's also marked the beginning of the summer resort business here. Local springs, rich in iron, sulphur and other minerals, were widely advertised as health-giving and the area's scenery, outdoor sports offerings and Silver Lake Hotel became well-known. Many townspeople moved away when the iron works and a later spool mill closed. The hotel burned in 1913. In 1927, the General Chemical Company leased Katahdin Iron Works land as a reserve source of the sulphur contained in the iron sulphide ore. General Chemical finally purchased the land in 1952, but has not yet undertaken mining operations. General Chemical Company donated the land containing the blast furnace and one remaining charcoal kiln to the Maine Bureau of Parks and Recreation. Katahdin Iron Works was first operated as an historic site in 1965. Extensive restoration was done on the furnace and kiln in 1966.
Gulf Hagas is a gorge located in the mountains of central Maine and is often referred to as the Grand Canyon of the East. The West Branch of the Pleasant River cuts through the earth for three miles creating a vertically walled slate gorge with numerous waterfalls. A trail follows the rim of the canyon offering hikers views of the falls and its geology. Most people access Gulf Hagas by driving through Katahdin Iron Works.
Native Americans lived, hunted, and fished around Gulf Hagas. Grave sites belonging to the mysterious “Red Paint People” have been found in the area. Red ochre, an impure form of iron ore readily available in the area was used by the Red Paint People on their tools, skin and during burials. Grave sites were lined with the red ochre which preserved bodies of the deceased. Burial grounds belonging to Red Paint People have been discovered dating back 7,500 years. Paperback 100 Pages