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26. The Witherbees, Sherman & Company Buildings
A Town Celebrates Its History
Listen to the Site 26 Iron Story Audio Narration
Today it is the Moriah Town Hall. Also on the property to the east is the Witherbee, Sherman & Company carriage house, which was also used as an icehouse and a laboratory for testing iron ore. It now houses the Iron Center Museum. The museum chronicles a century and a half of iron mining history.
In contrast, other large iron companies—such as those owned by Andrew Carnegie—were already or were in the process of making themselves fully integrated: owning the coal and iron mines, the shipping company, and the entire means of processing steel—all in one place.
When the Great Depression struck in the 1930s, the company had a difficult time operating at a profit, shutting down the mines for long periods at a time. In 1939 as American industry began gearing up for World War II, Republic Steel leased the Witherbee, Sherman mines and facilities, modernizing them into profitability. By the 1960s, though, the mines had gone so deep underground that it took workers an hour and a half just to get from the surface to their work sites. The profits became slimmer and slimmer each year until finally, in 1971, Republic Steel closed the Moriah mines.
The Moriah town hall (former Witherbees, Sherman, and Company office building) and the Port Henry Iron Center Museum (34 Park Place, Port Henry) are right next door to each other. You can learn more about the museum here and at the town website.