Conemaugh Furnace, Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania


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Conemaugh - Is along the Conemaugh River in St. Clair Township. Two different accounts give different dates for the building of this furnace. One account gives 1820 to 1830, and the other says 1847. Both accounts agree that a J. McGill built the plant. One account also gives Gen. Foster White as co-owner(s&t). In 1855 it was owned by Rhey Mathews & Co. and had been in successful operation for at least 3 years(gpr). Very little remains.(P)(V)(is,dd,rp 2005)
To reach the vicinity of Conemaugh go south from the junction of PA711 and PA56 on PA56 in Seward approximately 1.2 miles. Here you will find a wide space at the side of the road where you can park, and a gated path going left down the side of the hill at 40 24.656'N - 78 59.836'W. Follow this road down through some mildly heavy brush until just before an open meadow. Turn right and find a path through the woods trending downward and easterly toward the railroad tracks. You will have to reverse directions, from time to time, as the path goes down to avoid a steeper descent. Near the bottom of the hill climb over the mound before the tracks and then up to the tracks. At this point the river bank and hill down to the river will be close to the tracks. Walk in an easterly (to the right) direction along the tracks until the river recedes away and a level area intercedes. This area is the probably location of the old Conemaugh Furnace Station and village. Continuing until the river returns to near the rails is the probably vicinity of the old Conemaugh furnace site. At the tracks this would be
GPS coordinate 40 24.654'N - 78 59.377'W
Go down the slope and look for the ruins. Per s&t "Only a small retaining wall, a pile of stones, and some old foundations remained in the 1960's. Some round depressions in the ground may have been beehive oven sites. Between here and the river are large quantities of slag" (s&t). When we visited this site in 2005 we found slag, a few loose furnace stones and some inner lining stone, but were not sure of the exact furnace location (P)(V)(is,dd,rp-2005).
Prior to picking this route we had found copy of an old 1867 map of St. Clair Township which has a location entitled "Conemaugh Furnace Station" and the indications of a small community. This would probably have been the furnace community and near the furnace remains. We plotted the probable location of this community on the Pendot County map and found it to be north of the railroad tracks at about 40 24.621'N - 78 59.344'W. Again, plotting a possible furnace location on the USGS topo map of Vintondale Quad, we suggest a possible location of the remains to be between 40 24.530'N - 78 59.230'W, and 40 24.497'N - 78 59.145'W. These locations are very close to the location we visited in 2005, and nearly match the description given by s&t above for the river and tracks.
Assistance in verifying this location would be appreciated. -->

An early map of St. Clair Township shows a Conemaugh Furnace Station northeast of the current town of Seward.

A projection on to a current PennDot map would indiccate the probable loccation of Conemaugh Furnace Station.

A closer look at the old map showsd the depot and buildings of Conemaugh Furnace Station. Conemaugh Furnace is projected to be in this vicinity.

Conemaugh Furnace Special Sources:
A Guide to the Old Stone Blast Furnaces of Western Pennsylvania, Myron B. Sharp and William H. Thomas (s&t)
Dan & Chris Dundon, Erie, PA
Ian Straffin, Meadville, PA
Copyright Richard Parks, January 28, 2010