Out with the old, in with the new. That is the way of life, especially in Polk County. This week’s return to former stories in the Standard Journal takes readers back to the early 1920s, when a literal landmark was demolished to make way for a new plant in town. Thanks again to Gregory Gray for helping us find many of these items. A couple of requests have come in we will try to fulfill in our historical remembrances of Cedartown as time permits. Any additional ideas of stories to look back on throughout Polk County history from years past can be forwarded along to firstname.lastname@example.org. — KM
From the Nov. 17, 1921 edition of the Cedartown Standard:
LANDMARK GOING: AND MAKING WAY FOR IDEAL MANUFACTURING SITE
The old Cherokee furnace is being “scrapped,” and the fact brings a touch of regret to many of our old citizens, for it was the first industry to put Cedartown “on the map” from a manufacturing standpoint.
The late Amos G. West came here from New York and built the furnace in 1874, at the same time building the old narrow-guage East & West road to connect with the W. A. at Cartersville. He was one of the pioneers in Georgia as a furnace and railroad builder, and for years the old Cherokee gave employment to many. It brought to our town in later years as temporary residents such useful citizens as Mr. N. Swayne, now of Philadelphia, and Mr. A. Griggs, now of Meridian, Miss.
The writer will never forget the “interviews” that The Standard used to secure from Mr. West as to the live question of the early ‘Nineties, “When will the furnace start?” Many interesting chapters could be written as to Mr. West and the men he gathered about him in the then important enterprise.
But the old Cherokee was a charcoal furnace, using about six acres of timber a day, and the wood for coaling became scarce and expensive. Big coke furnaces have taken the place of the smaller charcoal furnaces, and the Cherokee had to finally share the fate of its sisters and go out of blast “for keeps.”
It was honest-to-goodness iron that the old Cherokee turned out, and it was an honest-to-goodness furnace that Mr. West built. The superintendent in charge of the work of demolishing the old structure says he has never seen such a building, and it is taking him about twice a long to tear this down as it has other furnaces more cheaply built.
Only one engine out of all the furnace equipment is being saved. The rest all goes with the old iron and brick as “scrap,” which is being shipped to Chattanooga and other points. The blasting that Cedartown people now hear from time to time means that the old Cherokee is out of blast forever.
As long as the furnace could never be operated profitable again, and was as badly out of style as a chignon or a bustle, it is well that it is being torn down. It clears the way for the location of some modern enterprise, for there is no more desirable location for a manufacturing industry than this.