Porterfield Furnace, Venango County, Pennsylvania
aka Glen Furnace, Mill Creek Furnace


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Porterfield (aka Glen or Mill Creek) - is along Mill Creek in Rockland Township. It was built in 1837-1838 by Joseph Porterfield(s&t). In 1837 40 hands were working at the operation(pbd). Charles Shippen bought the furnace and operated it until it was abandoned in 1851-1852. Until about 1959 this furnace was in excellent condition. At that time an ice gorge or high water on Mill Creek undermined one corner and its outer wall collapsed giving a great view of the inner stack which is still in good shape. Cast house foundation(s&t) and wheel pit walls(rp) are visible. Two difficult transits to the furnace are along and down into the waters of Mill Creek, or down a treacherous gulley from above the furnace to the north. The remains, although in poor condition, are magnificent and worth the effort to see(P)(V)(rp-1977, is,dd-2005).
Two routes to Porterfield are:
(1) From the town of Emlenton, at the junction of PA38 and SR2003, turn north (left) on SR2003 at the traffic light. Follow SR2003 up the hill and make a right turn to the cemetery on the left. Turn left at the far end of the cemetery onto Dotter Road. Follow along the bluffs overlooking the Allegheny River for about 4 miles (may be less) and cross Mill Creek. Shortly after crossing Mill Creek the road veers sharply to the left and turns up hill. Park here and walk upstream on the left bank of Mill Creek until you must ford the creek. Do not attempt to climb over the cliff on the left bank. Proceed along the right bank until you must ford again. After the second ford, climb over a small bank and the furnace can be seen on a small flat between the creek and the hillside. Ian Straffin has recorded the GPS location
GPS Coordinates 41 13.905'N - 79 42.802'W.(is-2005).
(2) A much more strenuous alternate route (for the climber) is to proceed up the hill on Dotter Road approximately mile, from the parking spot described above, to the junction with Rockland Township Road (T524) (right). ( This spot can also be reached by driving south from Pittsville on McDowell Road approximately 2 miles to this junction). At the junction look for a gully running downhill to the right back toward Mill Creek. This becomes a rock gorge and can be followed down to the edge of Mill Creek. The furnace is on the flat to the left at this point.(rp-1978).

Porterfield Furnace side facing Mill Creek
October 1977

Porterfield Furnace side facing hillside
May 1978

Porterfield Furnace side facing Mill Creek
May 2005 (is)

Porterfield Furnace side facing hillside
May 2005 (is)

Porterfield Furnace corner facing Northeast
May 2005 (is)

. Porterfield Furnace inner bosh
May 2005 (is)

Porterfield 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
Ian Straffin, Meadville, PA (is)
Copyright Richard Parks, January 22, 2010