Picture

Mammoth General Store, circa 1881

 During the late 19th century, iron was mined in and around Brewster.

Tunnels run under Marvin's Mountain, behind the current day train station, and under the Village of Brewster. After the Harlem Railroad reached the Village, Walter Brewster reopened a shaft in the hill behind Main Street. He took out 300 tons of ore in two years. The Brewster mine was mined periodically from 1848 until the early 1880s when it closed.

Another mine in the area, the Theall and McCollum mines lay two miles Southwest of Brewster. In 1882, these mines joined to become the Croton Magnetic Mine, which produced over 100,000 tons of ore before closing in 1900. The largest and most prosperous mine was the Tilly Foster Mine, named for Tillingham Foster who purchased the mine property from James Townsend in 1830. The mine was in a separate hamlet located two miles west of the Village of Brewster along Route 6. Tilly Foster was known for its iron ore a type of magnetite which was low in phosphorous and was used in the Bessemer process, a method of refining steel invented in 1855.

While the area of Tilly Foster was open and used since 1810, large scale production of the mine dates from 1864 when John Cheever bought the mine for  $500,000.  By 1868 the mine was producing 1,000 tons or 2,000,000 pounds of ore monthly.  Andrew Cosgriff was the superintendent.  Tilly Foster was known as an open pit mine, but it also had a "lower mine" of underground shafts and galleries.  By 1885 the mine was 600 or more feet deep.  Gangs, or groups, of miners got to the bottom of the pit in buckets used to bring up the iron.  Ladders were used from there to get to the lower mine.  While locals joined the corps of miners, the work force was mostly immigrants - Swedes, Irish, Hungarians, and Italians.  During the late 1870's the mine was at its heyday with 300 workers producing 7,000 tons of iron per month.  While the mine grew it also became more dangerous.  Landslides and cave-ins killed numerous men.  In 1879, at the height of its career the Lackawanna Iron and Coal Company of Scranton, Pennsylvania purchased the mine...                              continued on p. 2

Page designed by:
FRD