The Dordogne department was created by official decree on January 26th, 1790 (six months after the French Revolution). Its only real industry at the time was charcoal-fired metallurgy, for which the north of the department contained the essential elements: iron deposits, wood, and readily available manpower from the agricultural workers who were unemployed during the winter. In 1859, there were 40 ironworks, but none was able to survive the opening up of the markets in 1860.
The disappearance of this industry, and then the destruction of the vines by the phylloxera aphis (which nearly killed off the entire French wine industry), were the main causes of a demographic and economic decline which could not be overcome even by the department’s large paperworks, nor by such light industries as glassware, pottery and shoe manufacture. Read more