Castle Rock Furnace, Venango County, Pennsylvania
aka Lytle's Furnace, Sandy Furnace
Castle Rock (aka Lytle's or Sandy) - is on a small run North of South Sandy Creek in Mineral Township. Sandy Furnace was built in 1836 by William Cross and Thomas Hoge(s&t). In 1837 20 hands were at work(pbd). Later the name was changed to Castle Rock. It was also known as Lytle Furnace after C. E. Lytle, who owned and operated it for several years. Cross and Hoge sold it to Heaton and McConnel (failed). Later owners were McKee and Harris (failed), Painter, Graff and Company, Bingham and Company, C. E. Lytle and Company, and J. Painter and Company, who closed it down in 1860. Its greatest capacity was 3 tons per day(s&t). The stack is in poor condition with most of the original stones intact but fallen down. About 1/4 miles upstream are the ruins of a small village where the furnace workers lived and other stone foundations can be found in the general area(evc). This furnace, like so many others in Venango County, is in a very wild and inaccessible place(s&t). It is located on state game lands No. 39 and can be reached a couple of ways using game land roads and bushwacking or following a more arduous but beautiful hike to near the junction of South Sandy Creek and a small stream running down
from the northwest. (P)(V)(rp-1977, he-2003, is-2004).
From Franklin drive west through Polk on US62 to the junction with PA965 (Gilliland Hill Road). Turn left onto PA965 and continue 1.5 miles up the hill to a junction with (T399). At this point you will see a brick schoolhouse on the right. Turn left onto (T399) and follow this road 0.7 miles to what formerly was an abandoned red brick home on the right. Hank Edenborn visited this site in Sept. 2003 and this location is now a parking area for the state game lands and no further driving is permitted. GPS location N 41° 20.315' W079° 56.450' (he) Park on the left.
From this point we give two routes to Castle Rock:
(1) Ian Straffin visited in 2004 and provides a nice route to the furnace with GPS waypoints. Walk around the gate and proceed east down this road on foot for about ¼ mile. Look for a lane to the right (south) at this point. Follow this lane about 0.5 miles in a southerly direction until it turns east and then veers SE. From here follow this road about another 0.65 miles or to GPS coordinate N 41° 19.589' W079° 55.642' . Then bushwack your way downhill heading NE for another 0.22 miles to the furnace site which is about one city block from South Sandy Creek and near a small stream running down from the NW.
GPS location N41° 19.695' W079° 55.423'(he-2003)
(2) Another shorter but more difficult approach would be to walk east 1/4 mile and then south as per above to where you reach a pipeline going east. GPS location N 41° 19.995' W079° 56.051' Follow this line and then SE above the stream which goes down to South Sandy. This is in a very beautiful but steep and rugged area. Continue following the general contour of the land downward staying to the right of the stream but up on the first rise. You may pass foundations which were probably part of the furnace complex. Continue (about 1.1 straight line miles from the parking area) When the run is about one city block from South Sandy Creek look to the left and the furnace can be seen on the flat on the right bank (downstream) of the run. (1978).
GPS location N41° 19.695' W079° 55.423'(he-2003)(is-2004)
Three views of Castle Rock Furnace taken by Ian Straffin - August 2004
Airial Map, from Ian Straffin, showing route (1) road and bushwack to the left, and and alternate with muck bushwacking. To the right above you will note a faint stream coming down in a southeasterly direction to Castle Rock. Following near the right bank downstream of this stream is another way to approach Castle Rock.
Castle Rock Furnace Special Sources:
A Guide to the Old Stone Blast Furnaces of Western Pennsylvania, Myron B. Sharp and William H. Thomas (s&t)
Exploring Venango County prepared for the Venango County Bicentennial Commision, 1976(evc).
J. A. Caldwell (hvc) publisher History of Venango County, by Edward (Kirke) White, 1879
The News Herald, Thur. Jul 27, 1978 (tnh)
Isaac Harris (pbd) publisher The Pittsburgh Business Directory, 1837
Hank Edenborn, Finleyville, PA
Ian Straffin, Meadville, PA, Photos & Map
Copyright © Richard Parks, January 21, 2010