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Shot Tower

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c. 1807. Shot Tower Historical State Park, Foster Falls Rd., 8.3 miles southeast of Fort Chiswell
  • (Virginia Department of Historic Resources)

John Chiswell's lead mines, four miles southwest and near Austinville, supplied lead for the shot tower built by Thomas Jackson, who manufactured shot for the firearms of settlers and frontiersmen. The tapering square tower of local limestone is seventy feet high with a simple wooden balcony at the top. Originally, wooden steps wound up from ground level to the balcony, which opens into a room with a fireplace where the lead was heated. The molten lead was then poured through a sieve over a shaft that went down through the tower and continued seventy-five feet below ground where it landed in a kettle of water. A steep fall was thought necessary to give the shot a balanced round shape. The shot was then retrieved via a tunnel leading from the bank of the New River to the bottom of the shaft.

Writing Credits

Anne Carter Lee
Anne Carter Lee



  • 1807


What's Nearby


Anne Carter Lee, "Shot Tower", [Austinville, Virginia], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Cover: Buildings of Virginia vol 2

Buildings of Virginia: Valley, Piedmont, Southside, and Southwest, Anne Carter Lee and contributors. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2015, 457-457.

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