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Heavy Metal Discovery in Charlotte

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Rochester: Heavy Metal Discovery in Charlotte
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City engineers are trying to figure out how to remove a 160-ton slab of iron unearthed earlier this spring during construction on a planned marina at the Port of Rochester.

"It's amazing that something from the 1800s is still here."

The hole in the ground represents a piece of history, of sorts.

"Well, it's probably the largest historical significance of the blast furnace that's left here," said Fred Amato.

In a Charlotte parking lot, Rochester Gas and Electric crews were moving underground power lines for a marina project at the Port of Rochester.

"That's gonna be a big excavation job," said city engineer Jim McIntosh.

They hit a circular slab of iron.

"About 160 tons it weighs."

Which has, for the past month, held up the project.

"At the time we didn't know what it was. Tried to break it up. Weren't able to."

City leaders suspect it came from an old blast furnace, which was part of a cast iron mill, which was located here from the 1800s until the 1930s.

"It really was big at the time and that's kind of the piece that's left."

"I was amazed the first time I came here," said Amato.

Amato, like many others, is curious.

"We've heard different stories of what it might be."

Some believe the wheel-shaped hunk of iron may have been a gear of some sort.

"It's hard to tell where this would have been located. Some people think it was around the base of it," Amato said.

"It's the heavy part that drops to the bottom," said McIntosh.

McIntosh says it's likely something known as a "button" – iron which formed near the bottom of the blast furnace.

"Probably at the time they didn't know how to move this 160 ton circle either."

The button will have to be removed before RG&E crews can finish their work, a task certainly easier said than done.

"The timetable's really, we'd like to have it out by Labor Day."

Options for removing the 320,000 pound slab of iron are still being considered. It could fetch $300 to $500 a ton for salvage, essentially paying for the cost of removing it.

"It's just something we found. I'm sure it won't be the last surprise we find on the project," McIntosh said.

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