Martha Furnace, Blair County, Pennsylvania
aka Gap Furnace
Martha (aka Gap) - was on the Frankstown branch of the Juniata River, at McKee in Freedom Township. It was built in 1838 (1862 [s&t]) probably by Dr. Schoenberger. It was leased from the Schoenbergers by Musselman and Barnitz and enlarged in 1843. By the 1850's it produced charcoal iron at about 40 tons per week. Originally with a water powered bellows, it was converted to steam powered tubs, and to anthracite coal or coke fuel. It had a 9.5 foot bosh and stood 32 feet high. It sold iron to local forges and to markets in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. When placed for sale in 1857 it was said to produce 70 tons per week Closed about 1854, in 1905 the stones were used for a barn foundation(wes), A stone house which was the furnace office is nearby.(P)(V)(rp-2004).
Follow PA36 south from Hollidaysburg to McKee. Turn right on SR2010 (Johnstown Road) up the hill to a sharp right turn (about 1/4 mile from PA36). Do not turn but go straight ahead for about 100 feet. A small now tan house stands left and below the road and between the bank and the railroad right of way. The furnace site is about 75 feet beyond this house and against the hillside. Ask permission and walk past the back yard and parallel to the road and railroad. A small depression in the ground indicates the former stack location. The upper road was at the level of the charging bench. There are mounds of slag in the area. There are old log houses that probably were a part of the furnace complex and there is a stone house on the north side of PA36 below the furnace site which was probably the iron masters house.
GPS coordinates 40º 21.435'N - 78º 25.019'W. (rp-2004)
Martha Furnace Workers House - October 2004
Probable Martha Furnace Site
Martha Furnace Masters House - October 2004
Martha 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 February 21, 2010