The Madison Historical Society has been fortunate to have received three grants from the NJ Historical Commission, a Division of the Department of State, to conduct an archaeological study in front of a small building on RidgedaleAvenue known as the Luke Miller Forge. No one is quite sure what the little brick building was used for having none of the characteristics one would associate with a forge, such as a chimney and large front door to accommodate forge activities. We do not know the actual age of the building, but we do know that a building located in approximately the same area in “Millers Station” appears on a 1857 map of Madison. There is also a good chance there is a tunnel running from the building to the eighteenth century main house at 105 Ridgedale Avenue as shown on the detailed 1936 HABS drawings.
The archaeological study has been quite successful due to student participation from Madison High School and this year an Anthropology class came from Mendham High School. The students learned from Dr. Ian Burrow, of Hunter Research and his staff, the exacting science of archaeology by studying all important data and how to properly document the information. During the first study four years ago, 1300 forge related artifacts were found with shovel testing, an indication that the site was a very active blacksmith shop. The study last year and this year uncovered two walls that are thought to be the foundation of the original eighteenth century forge. This year excavations took place where the two walls meet at what would be the southwest corner of the forge.
For three years, the dig has culminated in Madison High School’s Day of Service where students have many serviceprojects in Madison and the surrounding area. They learn about the project and then become actively involved. The Forge project had approximately 20 students each of the three years. Click here
to view additional pictures taken at the site during the 2011 Madison High School Day of Service.
The Madison Historical Society will continue to seek funding for the Archaeological
Study to continue, as we feel it is one thing to learn about local history in the classroom, but it’s a special learning opportunity to actually uncover history within our own community of Madison.