Red Top conducts training for iron pour volunteers Sept. 21

By MARIE NESMITH
Posted 8/31/19

In preparation for the 2019-2020 iron pour season, Red Top Mountain State Park will conduct mandatory training Sept. 21 for volunteers to assist in this programming staple."The training involved will …

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Red Top conducts training for iron pour volunteers Sept. 21

Posted

In preparation for the 2019-2020 iron pour season, Red Top Mountain State Park will conduct mandatory training Sept. 21 for volunteers to assist in this programming staple.

"The training involved will depend on the volunteer’s experience and skill level," Red Top Naturalist Carrie McDaniel said. "Anyone 18 and over wanting to be involved with the pour itself will start out learning the basics from an experienced staff member.

"As experience and skills are gained throughout the iron pour season, volunteers will be allowed to take on other responsibilities," she said, adding volunteers also are needed to provide various types of assistance, such as capturing photos of iron pours, interpreting the events and assisting patrons with scratch blocks.

The volunteer training will be presented from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the venue's Casting Shed at 50 Lodge Road, Acworth. While the event is complimentary, participants still must display a $5 parking pass in their vehicles.

"Red Top Mountain State Park is unique in the fact that we are the only state park in Georgia with a working foundry and furnace," McDaniel said. "The experience and skills learned by volunteering with us are hard to come by anywhere else. It’s a wonderful experience that I have enjoyed in my time here at Red Top. 

"I can’t say what the experience is like for others, but for me, pouring molten iron is exhilarating. Running a furnace that can reach temperatures of 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit is an experience like no other. When I started down this road in 2017, I knew nothing about iron pours. I started gaining my skills as an art student at Kennesaw State University. Those skills have been invaluable to us at Red Top."

Echoing McDaniel's comments, Interpretive Ranger Serella Savenko also underscored the significance of Red Top's iron pours.

"Red Top Mountain State Park starting doing iron pours to celebrate our local iron mining history in May of 2001," Savenko said. "The iron pours are a key part of our programming. Iron pours are unique to us as a state park, and through the iron pours, we are able to help inspire excitement about our local history and pioneer life.

"Red Top Mountain was an iron mining community for two different mining companies. There are still remnants of homesteads at the park, and we have iron mines that were active back in the 1800s."  

Featuring eight events, this season's iron pours will be conducted from October to May on the third Saturday of the month.

"Iron pours are fun, exciting and really hot," Savenko said. "The furnace needs to get up to about 2,000 degrees to melt the iron. Our rangers and volunteers wear thick leather protective gear, helmets, goggles and face shields to protect them from the heat. During iron pours, we try to provide both fun and interpretation about the event. Often there are extras, such as tours of the Vaughan Log Cabin, pioneer games or visits from local smiths, crafters or re-enactors.

"Guests can purchase scratch blocks for $20-$60, depending on size. They then carve their own designs into the tough, resin-and-sand surface of the scratch block. It is important to remember that the scratch block is a negative; whatever is carved out will be raised in the final piece, and the image will be mirror-flipped — especially important for letters and numbers."

Along with being the first iron pour event of the season, October's offering will serve as the debut for Red Top's new furnace. Finished in August, the structure is 20 inches in diameter. 

"The furnace we used to use was not efficient to our needs," Savenko said. "So, when the old furnace, named Mary Ann, got sick — clogged with iron — it was a great opportunity for Red Top to get a new, smaller, more efficient cupolette-style furnace. 

"Our new furnace, named Carrie Leigh, was designed by Page Burch, a professor at KSU, and fabricated by Steel Materials in Cartersville. The furnace is just over 5 feet tall, because I can't see over the top flat-footed, and it is bigger around than I can hug, but two of me could probably hug all the way around."

To attend the volunteer training Sept. 21, individuals need to contact the Red Top Mountain Interpretive Team by emailing redtopprogram@gmail.com.