Cowanshannock Furnace, Armstrong County, Pennsylvania


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Cowanshannock (aka Bonner) - Is along Cowanshannock Creek about 3 miles North of Kittanning in Rayburn Township. Jeremiah Bonner and his brother, James C. Bonner, built this furnace in 1845. It was a cold blast charcoal furnace with an 8 foot bosh, and produced 2-1/2 tons per day. It passed through several owners, including James E. Brown, Brown and Connell, and Brown and Ball. In 1853 the assessment list states it was not in blast.(acg). Per s&t bad location of the stack led to its early abandonment in 1851. By the s&t account, in the 1960's, only a few stones, some rubble and slag remain. Very little remains today (2005). Another account suggests the stacks do remain near the village of Sunnyside, however we believe these were lime kilns. (P)(V)(is,dd.rp-2005)
Go north from Kittanning on SR1003 for 3 miles from the courthouse. Turn right on Mc Millen Road (T823?) at the north end of the bridge over Cowanshannock Creek. You will see a Catfish Sanctuary and boat access at this corner. Follow this road. At 0.4 miles Cowanshannock Road bears left. Bear right and continue on McMillen Road to about 0.9 miles (From SR1003) to where an old road (T507) goes sharply right. 40 50.608'N - 79 29.675W' Follow it down to an old bridge over Cowanshannock Creek. 4WD is recommended. 40 50.503'N - 79 29.908W'. The bridge is not passable by vehicle but can be walked. On the west side of the bridge look for an old abandoned road to the left paralleling the creek. Walk upstream on the west bank of the creek on this old road approximately 0.2 miles. You will notice another old road veering right and going up hill. Continue on the road paralleling the creek a short distance until you notice a level spot below the hillside and a steep path down to this flat area. Go down to this flat area turn right and walk about 30-40 feet. You will find a partially stone lined wheel pit and a mill race. To the right, near the hillside, are a few loose stones and furnace lining brick. Slag is abundant in the area. We believe the furnace stood near the hillside at this point.
GPS coordinates 40 50.346'N - 79 30.063'W

Cowanshannock Creeklooking upstreamfrom bridge

Creek on left facing upstream
heading toward furnace site

Chris & Dan Dundon with
inner lining brickat site

. Remains probaly part of furnace
race at Cowanshannock site
Old map sjhowing J.S.Quigley property otained from the Bonnert;s. (near Cowanhannock furnace)
Map showing approximate location of Cowanshannock Furnace on west bank of Cowanshannock Creek

Cowanshannock Furnace Special Sources:
A Guide to the Old Stone Blast Furnaces of Western Pennsylvania, Myron B. Sharp and William H. Thomas (s&t)
Chris & Dan Dundon, Erie, Pennsylvania (dd)
Ian Straffiin, Meadville, Pennsylvania (is)
Connie Mateer, Kittanning, PA.
Tom Nagy. Pennsylvania
Tom Painter, Rayburn Twp Supervisor, Kittanning, PA.
Millie Reesman, Kittanning,PA.
Dave Rupert, Armstrong Conservation District
Copyright Richard Parks, Last updated February 1, 2010