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This article is from the Encyclopedia of North Carolina edited by William S. Powell. Copyright © 2006 by the University of North Carolina Press. Used by permission of the publisher. For personal use and not for further distribution. Please submit permission requests for other use directly to the publisher.

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Cranberry Iron Mine

by Jean H. Seaman, 2006

The Cranberry Iron Mine is located on an immense subterranean stretch of titaniferous magnetite (titanium, iron oxide) centered around Cranberry in Avery County. Said to have been used by Indians before their contact with whites, it came to be worked mainly from surface ore by 1829 and was opened to systematic production around 1880. In 1882 a railroad facilitated movement of the ore to the furnace. The ore, low in silica and phosphorus, was characterized as the largest deposit of Bessemer ore in the South. By 1974 it was the only active iron mine left in North Carolina.Employees stand in front of the furnace of the Cranberry Iron Mine, ca. 1895. North Carolina Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Library.


W. F. Wilson and others, North Carolina Geology and Mineral Resources: A Foundation for Progress, North Carolina Geological Survey Educational Series no. 4 (1976).

Additional Resources:

"Cranberry iron mine: iron for the Confederacy." Civil War Trails, Inc. 2011.,10772

State Board of Agriculture. "Cranberry Iron Mine." North Carolina and its resources. Winston [N.C.]: M. I. & J. C. Stewart. 1896. p.96.,641585

Image Credits:

Employees stand in front of the furnace of the Cranberry Iron Mine, ca. 1895. North Carolina Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Library.

Origin - location: 



The article characterizes this mine as the only one active by 1974 in NC. This is misleading and untrue. The mine shut down in 1929. Despite a short-lived pilot project to process ore during WW II, the mine would be more accurately characterized as having been inactive since 1929.


My grandfather Bob Greer was the supervisor and foreman at Cranberry Mine during the 70s.


My GGG Grandfather Levi David Ellis was the Superintendent of the mines- I’ve never found any information or records confirming this other then that’s what’s been passed down through several lines of family history.


About 1923 (i was about 4 years old) While playing in my front
yard in Linville nc I could hear the lunch time whistle
at twelve noon and back to work whistle at The Cranberry Iron Mine. I was amazed that I could hear
the whistle that far away..Probably because it was a very deep tone sound..


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