Shelby Iron Works

Shelby, Alabama



The Retort

Posted: 07/02/2013

The Retort is a structure that has yet to be cleared of brush, and is not conducive to the public at the moment. Much is unknown about this structure, except that it was built about the same time as the Chemical Plant. The term retort comes from a structure, typically ovens, used in the charcoal-making process. This building occupies about the same ground space as the Chemical Plant.

The building appears to have had a below-grade floor, and an high-ceiling on the ground floor. There are four large square openings in the roof, and it appears four brick-lined ovens may have been in these areas, as piles of brick are in each of the sections.

At the north end of the building, there are what appear to be two parallel train trestles where perhaps charcoal was unloaded or loaded.

It appears that demolition efforts may have been undertaken on this structure at one time, with the entire ground floor broken up, exposing the basement floor.

While parts of the structure are in relatively good condition, the east wall is cracking and bowing from apparent ground swelling in that area. The roof is ever so slightly curved, apparently for rain runoff. There may have been elevated and ventilated structures above each of the main openings.