Things to Do> Shot Tower Historical State Park

Shot TowerOverlooking the New River, the Shot Tower was built in the 1800s to make ammunition for firearms of the early settlers. Lead from the nearby Austinville Mines was used to manufacture lead shot for muskets and muzzle loading shotguns. Because lead required a 150-foot drop to properly form a shot, the lead was melted in a kettle at the top of the 75-foot tower and poured through a sieve falling through the tower into an additional 75-foot shaft beneath the tower into a kettle of water. The shot was then sorted and shipped to market via an access tunnel that ran from the bottom of the shaft to the river’s edge.

This low-tech, yet effective, version of production ran until the end of the Civil War when changes in technology forced the Shot Tower’s closure. Today, the tower is believed to be the only one of this particular design in the world. For this reason it has been designated both a National Historic Landmark and a National Historic Engineering Landmark.Visitors may ascend the tower and enjoy the picnic facilities.

Directions: From I-77, take exit 24 and go north on Route 52 for two miles.

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