Welcome to Blair County Old Stone Furnaces


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BLAIR COUNTY

in Central PENNSYLVANIA
had nineteen Old Iron Furnaces of which we have visited and photographed eleven. The others have no remains. Of particular interest Allegany is restored but mortar was used between the stones, a no no. You can clearly make out that Canoe was a round furnace. Elizabeth and Springfield have good portions remaining. Mt, Etna has many out buildings to see, but the supports to hold the furnace together mar its beauty. Near the Rebecca site is the iron master house of Edward Lytle Sr.

  Elizabeth Furnace
Elizabeth Furnace
2003


Blair - was built in Altoona, Logan Township about 1830 and owned at one time by H. N. Burroughs .The site is near the old Pennsylvania Railroad (Now Norfolk Southern) tower and tracks. Fill now covers the site.
Start at the junction of PA36 and PA764 in Altoona. Proceed north on PA764 about 1.9 miles. PA764 goes right and SR4019 goes straight ahead. Proceed on SR4019 about another 1.9 miles to where a road to the left and a bridge goes over the railroad yards. Turn left over this bridge. At the end of the bridge turn right about two blocks. There was an old stone tower on the railroad to the right. The Blair Furnace stood between this tower and the bridge. The site is covered by fill and no trace remains. Coordinates 40 33' 6"N - 78 22' 23"W. to top
Chimney Rock - Built in 1836(s&t), or 1856 by Gardner, Osterich & Co., Chimney Rock was in Hollidaysburg, Blair Township, across the Juanita River from Gaysport Furnace(s&t). In its first year it produced between 60-70 tons of foundry metal per week(wes). In 1876 it was likely a part of the Cambria Iron Works operations(whe). It was closed in 1885(wes). Nothing remains.
From Gaysport Furnace continue to where a bridge crosses the Juniata River, about one block. Cross the bridge. Turn left and follow a dirt road to its end. The furnace site is in the flat area to the right between the road and the railroad track, directly opposite the freight station (1960's). Coordinates 40 25.56'N - 78 23.73'W. to top
Gaysport (aka Hollidaysburg) - Was built in 1836(s&t) or 1856 by Watson Dennison & Co. in Gaysport, Hollidaysburg, Blair Township(wes). It was owned by Smith and Caldwell(s&t). The furnace was a hot blast type and produced at the rate of 10-12 tons per day until 1885(wes). In 1876 it was likely part of the Cambria Iron Company complex(whe). No trace remains.
The S&T account has you turning south on PA36 over the railroad track. We believe that PA36 has been relocated about 0.4 miles to the east, and the bridge over the railroad is actually now on SR2012 Newry Street (old PA36). At the first cross street, Bedford Street, turn left and park in back of brick building on the corner at the south end of bridge over Juniata River. The furnace site was 100-150 feet to the left, about midway between the river and houses along Bedford Street. Nothing remains, but slag has been excavated.
Coordinates 40 25.58'N - 78 23.86'W. to top
Sarah - was on Beaver Dam Run at Sproul in Greenfield Township. It was built in 1832 by Dr. Schoenberger. It was water powered cold blast until 1847 when two iron tubs were installed. The charcoal iron was shipped to three Maria forges near Hollidaysburg(wes).. Per s&t it was never successful and was shut down after two or three years of operation(?). The stack finally was demolished in the winter of 1881-1882(s&t). The furnace site is now covered by dirt and waste from a brickyard dump.
Since the s&t location account was prepared in the 60's, a new US220-I99 has been built to the east of old US322. Going south from Hollidaysburg to the village of Sproul, old US322 is now SR3013 in Sproul. In Sproul turn right on old A5732 probably now SR3006. About 1/8 mile along this road a dirt road leads downhill to the right. At the foot of the hill another dirt road to the right was closed by a chain. Walk through this lane to the large dump which now covers the furnace location. The furnace stood on the natural hillside, and the site is now covered with dirt and waste from the brickyard. Only a few pieces of slag remained in the field between the hill and the creek. Coordinates 40 16.45'N - 78 27.88'W. to top
Blair County Additional References:
Renner's Bennington Furnace Directory 1878-79(ren) (Rootsweb Search-Cambria Co)
William H. Egle (whe) - An Illustrated History of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (Harrisburg: DeWitt C. Goodrich & Co.1976) p. 461-478
www.blaircohistoricalsociety.homestead.com/EtnaFurnace.html(bhs)
Westsylvania Stories - Early Iron Works Blair & Cambria Counties (wes)
Bio. & Portrait Encyclopedia of Blair Co. PA. Samuel T. Wiley, Phila. 1893 p91-120(wil) Pat & Michael Hom, San Diego, Ca., Bernningron, Rodman, Bald Eagle, (ph)
Ian Straffin, Meadville, PA., Bennington. (is)
Dan & Chris Dundon, Erie, Pa., Bennington, (dd)

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Copyright Richard Parks, Last updated March12, 2010