Metal Ford : Natchez Trace Parkway MP 382.8

Date Visited: 4/5/2019

The stop at Metal Ford is really two points of interest in one.

The first is that it marks the spot where travelers forded the wide and fast moving Buffalo River. To find out how the ford got its peculiar name you can read the information on the sign below.

Even today as you look out across the river the water here feels somewhat inviting. During the summer months this is a popular swimming area.

The second point of interest is that it’s also the spot of Steele’s Iron Works. The charcoal burning furnace once located here was part of the operations that produced pig iron (a crude iron) from the ore provided by Napier Mine.

Although nothing remains of the furnace today, a nearby slag pile on the bottom and side of the adjoining mill race may indicate that it once stood there.

We took the short trail alongside the river (which is also part of the original trace that led to the ford) until we reached the mill race inlet.

The race brought water from the river to the furnace where it was used to operate the furnace’s air blasting machinery. I wish there had been an informational sign that explained this process with more detail.

Once we reached the inlet we descended a flight of stairs and the trail returned us to the parking lot along the bed of the dry mill race.

Like the Buffalo River, the bed had a stone covered bottom.

While looking down I spotted this stone that was oddly shaped like the state of Tennessee and given that we were in the state of Tennessee this became my Natchez Trace Parkway souvenir.

In hindsight I don’t know that pocketing a piece of river stone was something I should have done. We have since ended that practice and purchased a National Parks Passport book where we obtain a stamp from the parks we visit as our souvenir.

Next week we explore the Meriwether Lewis National Monument and stay overnight at the free campground located on the premises.

Until then…


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