Jackson Ferry Shot Tower
Max Meadows, VA
N 36° 52.204 W 080° 52.220
Jackson Ferry Shot Tower is one of the few remaining structures of this type in the United States. It is located in Shot Tower State Historical Park near I-77 west of the junction of Rt. 608 and U.S. 52 near Max Meadows, VA. It is listed by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers as an Engineering Landmark.
This gray limestone shot tower was built and operated by English immigrant Thomas Jackson in 1807 in order to manufacture lead shot for muzzle-loading shotguns and muskets. Lead from the nearby Austinville mines was melted and dropped from the top of the tower. When the lead falls it forms round balls that are cooled rapidly as they land in the water at the base of the tower. This drop process was patented in England in 1769 by William Watts of Bristol, England.
A description of the tower is given on an interpretative sign, near an historical bronze tablet, adjacent to the tower.
The tower stands seventy-five that goes to the depth of seventy-five feet which made the total drop 150 feet - the necessary height to form a perfect round ball. At the base of the river was an access tunnel that would allow workers to retrieve shot from the bottom of the shaft.
The Jackson Ferry Shot Tower is now owned and maintained by the Commonwealth of Virginia Department of Conservation and Economic development. It is listed as a Virginia Historic Landmark and as a National Register of Historic Places.