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  • Route 1 Beltsville, MD 20705

MUIRKIRK, was once the center of a largeiron manufacturing industry, the ore being mined in the nearby hills. It is believed that the place was named for a Scot named Muir,whose interest in the activities being carried on there was so great that he even spent Sundays in the mines or at the furnaces. His home later became known as Muir Kirk, or Muir Church.The original furnaces were built in 1747. Still standing are Six CHARCOAL OVENS of brick, in the shape of beehives, after the manner of those in England at that time. Iron produced at Muirkirk mills had a remarkable degree of tensile strength, and for that reason was much in demand and commanded a high price. The mills outlasted practically all other iron forges in Maryland operating during and after the Revolutionary War. In Civil War days, the Muirkirk forges supplied the Federal Government with a considerable number of cannon and cannon balls. Later, with the advent of modern arma-ment, the plant manufactured gun carriages, and even engaged in the peaceful business of manufacturing car wheels. In 1880 an ex- plosion razed the entire plant, but it was immediately rebuilt.At about the time of the World War, the plant began manufactur- ing a high grade ochre from ores obtained in the vicinity. In 1924 a firm that made coloring matter took over the business, and now, instead of Maryland ores, high grade ores from Spain, Germany, Sardinia, France, India, South Africa, and Chile are used in the manufacture of pigments sold all over the world. Close by is a marker commemorating the first official telegram. It recites that this telegram, reading "What hath God wrought," passed over the wires on a line of poles along the B. & O. R.R. from Washington to Baltimore on May 24, 1844.