This tall structure in Baltimore looks like a chimney for an old factory. Surprisingly, the tower was the factory. It was a shot tower for making lead shot for shotguns. Molten lead would be poured through a screen and the drops of metal would fall down into a vat of cold water at the bottom. As the lead descended through the air it would form a a small sphere and then cooled by the water.
At the time of its construction in 1832 the the Phoenix Shot Tower, also known as the Old Baltimore Shot Tower, was the tallest structure in the United States at 234 feet tall. The brick walls at the base are four and a half feet thick. The tower remained the tallest structure in the United States until 1846, when Trinity Church, in New York city was built. At its peak production the tower could produce 100,000 twenty five pound bags of shot in a year.
The tower ended production in 1892 when more efficient ways of making shot made the tower obsolete. In 1928 there were plans to demolish the tower to make room for a gas station but the citizens of Baltimore raised funds to purchase the historic tower and donate it to the city. The tower was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1971.
I can’t imagine how difficult of job it was to haul lead up 20 stories and then heat it and pour it down the tower.
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