Ironworking was important in Thuringia by the 14th century and by the 16th century the town of Schmalkalden, 40 km south-east of Eisenach, was famous for the manufacture of cutlery.
The principal monument of the Thuringian iron industry is the blast furnace at Weidebrunn, 3 km north of the centre of Schmalkalden, which is known as the Neue Hütte or Happelshütte. The furnace was fuelled with charcoal and its bellows were water-powered. It was erected in 1835, but the walls of its blowing house and casting house are timber-framed and roofed with pantiles, giving it the appearance of a much older furnace. A hot blast stove and a blowing engine were also preserved during a programme of restoration that took place between 1965 and 1980.