Shade Furnace, Sonerset County, Pennsylvania


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Shade - Is on Shade Creek in Shade Township(rp). Shade Furnace was the first furnace built in Somerset County. George Lambert from 1805 to 1808 held a warrant for a tract land called "furnace seat". Thomas Vikroy was owner from 1808 to 1819. Construction was started in 1808 and first blast in 1809 (bf). Per s&t Gerehart and Reynolds were the builders in 1807 or 1808 (s&t). It was then operated by various owners; Mark Richards and Benjamin Jones 1819 to 1846, forge constructed, Henry Little for 6 months in 1846, John and William Shyrock 1846-47, Robert Bingham, William Shyrock and Andrew Royer 1847 to 1850, Daniel Weyand 1850 to 1880. The furnace and forge were abandoned about 1858. The heirs of Daniel Weyland estate owned the property from 1880 to 1975, when the furnace property and 350 acres surrounding it were obtained by the Historical and Genealogical Society of Somerset County, who are attempting preservation and minor archaeological work in the area (mw,bf). Thomas Vickroy (Vikroy) left certain papers relating to it (mw). According to s&t, in the 1960's, only a pile of rubble remained but we found a poor but well defined furnace, wheel pit, millrace and tailrace in a more northerly location(rp-2004). The location s&t described was actually the site of a grist mill south of the furnace and near two mill dams. The large depression in the hillside at this location was a burrow pit for the dams, and much slag was deposited on the dams(bf).


Shade Furnce -2004

Shade Furnace - 2004

Shade Furnace Wheel Pit
& Head Race - 2004

We will describe three possible routes to the general area of Shade Furnace
(1) Follow US30 to Reels Corners. Turn north on PA160 N40 03.522' W078 49.687' Take PA160 3.6 miles to SR1021 to the left. N40 06.374' W078 49.018' Follow this road 3.4 miles to dirt(?) road T717 to the right. N40 08.296' W078 50.910' Turn right and follow common directions below. (2) This next route may be easier to trace. Go east from Stoystown on US30 about 4.75 miles to SR1021 to the left (just before Buckstown). N40 04.541' W078 52.335' Turn left on SR1021 and proceed about 5.25 miles to where SR1021 splits right and becomes School Road. Take the left split (T717). N40 08.296' W078 50.910' From here on the directions are the same for routes (1) & (2). From this point go about 0.1 miles to where Coffee Hill Road will bear to the right but continue straight (4WD recommended) about another 0.75 miles to a junction with another road coming in from the right, a gated meadow straight ahead and an old road and parking area left. GPS coordinates N40 08.733' W078 50.045'. Park here. The estimated directions from the gated meadow would be to follow the deteriorating road that is slightly left down the slope to the railroad tracks. GPS coordinates N40 09.126' W078 49.701'
(3) A third route, which may be longer but easier to traverse, is to go north from Reels Corners on PA160 through Central City to near Rockingham, just south of Reitz. Turn left on Whispering Pines Road and follow it down across Dark Shade Creek to the railroad tracks. GPS coordinates N40 08.058' W078 48.872. Park here. Follow the railroad north (downstream) along Dark Shade Creek and Shade Creek. At about 0.7 miles you will pass over Miller Run, and then at about 1.43 miles total, and just beyond a small stream coming down from the left, you will see the road coming down from the left(lh/mw). GPS coordinates N40 09.126' W078 49.701'. This is the route we followed in 2004(rp).
At the road and tracks turn right toward the creek along the north bank of a small run, then slightly left and walk down toward a washout area and toward Shade Creek. (lh). About 300-400 feet into the underbrush and Hemlocks toward Shade Creek you will come across the remains of the furnace, about 400 feet from Shade Creek(lh/mw/rp). About 10 rows of stone and several openings remain(rp). You will also see remains of the engine house and casting house foundations, wheel pit and charcoal house(bf). Much slag abounds.
GPS coordinates N40 09.187' W078 49.698'.
A race runs from the furnace upstream toward the small run, and beyond toward the grist mill and dam sites. At one time a pig iron and bloomery forge operated about 800 meters north of the furnace, and there was a saw mill between the furnace and the grist mill site. The furnace, saw mill and grist mill all used the same race(bf).
To locate the old grist mill and dam site, from the old road and railroad tracks follow down the small stream toward Shade Creek fording to the west (right) side and continue down to the race. Follow the race upstream about 200 yards to the area of the pit and old grist mill location. Here you will see evidences of the old millrace and wheel pit turning toward Shade Creek. To the south (upstream) you will see a large depression in the ground(rp) which was the site of the burrow pit for the dam construction(bf). These depressions a few pieces of slag, some of which was used as fill for the dams and some timbers are all that remain(rp,bf). The dams along Shade Creek near this point are gone now. Per s&t remains of old building foundations are nearby in the woods. This was the site s&t incorrectly identified as the location of Shade Furnace(rp)
The saw mill was located along the race between the furnace and the grist mill(bf).
GPS coordinates of the grist mill site N40 09.175' W078 49.555'.(rp-2004)
Furnace Special Sources:
Private collection of Richard R. Parks (rp)
A Guide to the Old Stone Blast Furnaces of Western Pennsylvania, Myron B. Sharp and William H. Thomas (s&t)
Brian L. Fritz, Clarion, PA (bf)
Lawrence Hutchinson, Cairnbrook. PA (lh)
Randy Musser, Central City, PA (rm)
Mark Ware, Somerset Historical Center, Somerset., PA (mw)
Copyright Richard Parks, December 28, 2009, revised Sept. 23,2001