Inscription reads: "Built in 1846, Catherine Furnace was one of three Page County furnaces in operation during the Civil War. The 30-foot-tall main stack is nearly all that remains of the cold-blast furnace and once-huge operation here, when 22,500 acres supplied wood for charcoal, iron ore and limestone, and food. With labor scarce, local whites, free blacks and slaves worked here to furnish the Confederacy with pig iron."
Wagons transported the pig iron to the Tredegar Iron Works in Richmond, the "Ironmaker to the Confederacy" and largest such operation in the South. The furnace also produced solid cannon shot and perhaps a few cannon tubes. Furnace #2 on Naked Creek made cannonballs as well.
Ironmaster Noah Foltz, a secret Union sympathizer, helped Federal soldiers escape from Page Valley across Massanutten Mountain to Fort Valley. After he mistakenly helped Confederates disguised as Union soldiers "escape," however, Foltz was arrested but soon released on bond to continue work at the furnace. The 1st Vermont Cavalry made the only known attempt to destroy the furnace on May 7, 1862. However, because of the ensuing engagement at Somerville Heights, the cavalry contingent.
The furnace was charged with charcoal, limestone, and iron ore to produce molten iron, which flowed into channels or "pigs" in the casting bed, or into molds to make products such as cooking pots. Pigs were hammered into iron bars at a forge.