Little Falls Furnace, Fayette County, Pennsylvania
& Connellsville Cole Ovens
b>Little Falls (aks Franklin Iron Works) - Is along Arnold's Run (now Furnace Run) in Perry Township. Built about 1801 by Nathaniel Gibson, the name was later changed to "Franklin Iron Works." The furnace never was successful and it is doubtful it ever made iron, although a successful forge operated and was bought by F. H. Oliphant in 1825, later sold to Miltenberger and Brown who operated it until 1839. It is said that the walls of the burned out stone mansion still existed in the 1960's(s&t). Very little currently remains at this site. (P)(V)(rp-2004).
There are probably two ways to get to this furnace area.
(1) Following s&t's 1960's directions modified. Follow PA201 west from Connellsville through Vanderbilt. About 1.1 miles west of Vanderbilt turn sharply right on SR1010 (Virgin Run Road) for 0.3 miles, and then left on SR1008 for 0.6 miles to Strickler Road to the right (may be unmarked). Follow this road to the furnace site. You can drive the road until it crosses the run and then walk the rest of the way. The road went up over a hill and down to the railroad along the river. This area has been strip mined and the s&t directions may not hold at this point. Nathaniel Gibson built this furnace and the walls of his house stood near the tracks and downstream from the furnace run. About 1/2 way from the house to the run is where the furnace probably stood. "At this place is a pile of stones and rubble"(s&t).
(2) the second way, which we utilized in 2004, is to turn right on PA819 in Vanderbilt continue down to near the Youghiogheny River and turn down to the Youghiogheny River bike trail trailhead, (marked with signs).
40º 02.726'N - 79º 39.716'W. Park here. You can either ride your bicycles down the trail or walk the trail downstream (left) 2.15 miles to the bridge over Furnace Run 40º 03.439'N - 79º 41.434'W. We searched downstream from furnace Run but found no walls and only a small bit of cut stone at
40º 03.271'N - 79º 41.499'W
Returning to the trailhead and heading upstream (east) toward Connellsville you will come upon a large number of beehive coke ovens in the hillside to the right of the trail. There are many more also along the opposite bank of the river.
Loose stones near site of Little Falls Furnace, may be furnace stones - October 2004
A few of the many cole ovens near Connellsville on the south bank of the Youigioheny River - October 2004
Furnace Special Sources:
A Guide to the Old Stone Blast Furnaces of Western Pennsylvania, Myron B. Sharp and William H. Thomas (s&t)
Copyright © Richard Parks. Last updated March 9, 2010