VULCAN WORKS

The removal of the Cherokee Indians from this area in 1838 brought many land speculators to Georgia. The efforts to bring industry to the Southern states in the 1850’s and the discovery of iron and coal in Dade County only spurred the movement.
One of those attracted was S. B. (Samuel Brunswick) Lowe who was born in Bethel, Conn., in 1828, the son of an immigrant Presbyterian/Congregationalist minister. In 1850 he was a young farmer in Conklin, N.Y. After learning the iron business in St. Louis, MO., and in New Orleans, LA., he opened one of the first rolling mills in the South in Chattanooga (Hamilton County) Tennessee. In an effort to control his supply of iron he reached out into the Johnson’s Crook area of Dade County, acquiring over forty-five hundred acres of mineral land.
In 1862, Lowe, doing business as Vulcan Works, entered into a contract with the Confederate States of America to provide “merchant bars, gunboat plating and railroad irons.” There were to be two blast furnaces in Dade County to produce “pig metal” as raw material for Vulcan Works, the Chattanooga rolling mill.
The advancing Union army closed both of Lowe’s operations. Robert Sparks Walker reports in his book, Lookout, The story of a Mountain, that in September 1863, “Near Johnson’s Crook, the Union soldiers captured the Empire Iron Works and Macon Iron Works not so far away.” There is no mention of Lowe, Vulcan, or the other iron works in Dade County.
Reopened in Chattanooga after the war, Col. S. B. Lowe sold his interest in Vulcan in 1870 and opened Lowe Metallic Paint Co., later known as Chattanooga Paint Company, to manufacture paint pigments. The ore, iron oxide, mined in the Rising Fawn area of Dade County, was one of the principle ingredients. Although Lowe died in 1890, this plant continued to operate until 1943. There are a number of other persons in Dade County with the surname “Lowe”; however, no family ties have ever been established. Submitted by Sam Lowe.

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