The Burden Iron Works Museum is open to the public. We're here most weekdays from 10 to 6, and other times by appointment, but it is always best to contact us first to ensure our availability, because we currently lack sufficient staff to guarantee all of our hours. Also, during the winter, it's best to give us at least three hours of advance notice of your arrival, so that we can bring the main hall up to room temperature before you arrive.
Suggested donation at the door is $10.
Located in the former office of one of the most important firms in the history of iron and steel, the Burden Iron Works Museum educates visitors not only about the history of iron working in South Troy, but also about the transformation of the region around the confluence of the Hudson and the Mohawk Rivers into the Silicon Valley of the nineteenth century. Among other things, the area gave the world:
- the hull armor for the Monitor
- the modern horseshoe, made at the rate of nearly a million a week
- the hook-headed railroad spike, now used worldwide
- some of the most famous cooking and heating stoves ever made
- the modern fire hydrant
- the lion’s share of the bells cast in the New World
- more than a million detachable collars and cuffs a day
- the largest textile mill building in nineteenth-century America
- some of the valves on the locks of the Panama Canal
- the most powerful water wheel in history (and in all likelihood the model for the world’s first Ferris wheel in 1893)
- the first truly all-woman labor union
- the shrink-proofing—or Sanforization—of cotton cloth
- and some of the finest surveying instruments used by leading explorers as they first reached the ends of the earth
Perhaps most importantly, the region was arguably the first to use cutting-edge technology as the focus of a self-conscious effort to cultivate regional economic prosperity. In actions strikingly similar to those taken in California’s Silicon Valley in recent memory, during the American industrial revolution visionaries from all across the region deliberately constructed:
- a superlative transportation infrastructure that included the Erie Canal
- a regionally-responsive educational infrastructure that included Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
- and an investment banking infrastructure that included about two dozen banks in Troy alone
At the same time that it instills pride in the schoolchildren of the area—and showcases a structure that’s on the National Register of Historic Places—the Burden Iron Works Museum presents its story in a way that encourages thoughtful public discourse about the significance—yesterday, today, and tomorrow—of deliberate regional technology-based development in human societies. It is a window into the past and a model for the future.