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Baldwin
California
Conemaugh
Fountain
Hannah
Hermitage
Hopewell
Laurel Hill
Lockport
Mt. Hope
Mt. Pleasant
Oak Grove
Ramsey
Ross
Unity
Valley
Washington
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WESTMORELAND COUNTY

in Southwestern PENNSYLVANIA has several well preserved furnaces all relatively easy to find. California, Laurel Hill and Ross are visible from the road and in very good condition. Valley, also visible, is a very interesting furnace. Washington is a must see with only a short walk, and Fountain and Baldwin, will take a bit of hiking but are well worth the effort. Of the original 16 Westmoreland furnaces we have found and photographed eleven, and have GPS readings on ten.


Hermitage - was on Mill Creek in Ligonier Township. It was built by Gen. Arthur St. Clair in 1803 and named for his home a few hundred yards to the east. St. Clair lost the furnace along with all his other possessions by a default on a bond to Gen. James O'Hara. The furnace was reactivated in 1816. J. H. Hopkins, later Bishop of Vermont and President Bishop of the Episcopal Church in America, was clerk and manager(s&t).
Dr. Martha Corrine Love of Greensburg, who lived in the old St. Clair home and played around the old stack when she was a little girl, told s&t that the furnace stood about halfway between the red house at the creek and the concrete block garage against the hillside, as was usual in those days. Two ramps leading to the bench are still to be seen(s&t).
A. L. Keltz who lives in the house at this location says he remembers that as a young boy he rode past the spot on occasion and remembers seeing the old stack along the hillside just east of the creek(s&t).
We did not visit this site, which can be reached by going 1.1 miles northeast from the square in Ligonier on PA711. Stop at the bridge over Mill Creek. At the east end of the bridge there was an old house. Back of the house and at the foot of the hill are depressions that may have been the wheel pit and millrace(s&t).
Approximate coordinates 40 15.11'N - 79 13.25'W.. to top
Lockport - was on the Conemaugh River in Fairfield Township in the village of Lockport. It was erected in 1844 by Thomas and William McKennon. It was not successful and went out of blast in 1846(s&t). The furnace still existed in 1855, and was indicated to be one of the late Dr. Shoenburger's furnaces(gpr). Nothing remains at this furnace site.
To locate the site follow PA711 to West Fairfield. A little more than 1/2 mile north of the center of town, turn west on SR1006 (Creek Road). Follow this road about 1-1/2 miles to a crossroad. Bear right on SR1011 Midget Camp Road, (a dirt road per s&t). Follow this road about 1-3/4 miles to the bottom of the hill and the village of Lockport. When the road makes a 90 right turn and you can see an old store building on the left side of the road after the right turn. Go about 100 feet and park. Straight ahead you will see an old church. The furnace stood on the low land below the land and just before reaching the church.
Coordinates 40 23.5'N - 79 7.16'W. to top
Mt. Pleasant - was along Jacobs Creek near Freeman Falls in Pleasant Township. It was built about 1810 by Alexander McClurg. It was blown out about 1820 while under the supervision of a Mr. Freeman for whom the nearby falls in Jacobs Creek was named. The furnace and its site are no longer in existence. The furnace stood on the southeast bank of the creek about 400 feet west of Freemans Falls. The Pennylvania Turnpike passes directly over this spot. Slag can be found along the creek below the turnpike, but nothing else remains of the furnace(s&t).
To reach the area at Mt. Pleasant go to Donegal and then proceed west on PA31 about 1-1/4 miles. Turn north on Clay Pike Road (SR2025) 2-1/2 miles, passing Austin Blvd (SR2004 which goes right) to Acme Dam Road (T832). Turn left on T832. Just before reaching the bridge over the turnpike turn off to the right and park. Freemans Falls is there and a few feet below the falls the creek goes under the turnpike. The furnace site is under the turnpike. An old mill with an enormous water wheel near the falls is of interest.
Approximate coordinates 40 8.77'N - 79 25.47'W. to top
Oak Grove - was on Mill Creek in Ligonier Township. This cold blast charcoal furnace was built in 1854 by J. Clifford about 1/2 mile above the junction with Hanna's Run. It was in blast a little over 3 years going out of blast in 1858. A barn foundation sits on the furnace site(s&t).
From Ligonier go east about 2.4 miles to the village of Oak Grove. Turn left on SR1017 (Wilpen Road) and cross the bridge over Mill Creek, about 200 feet. Turn right at the end of the bridge and walk along the creek bank for 100 to 150 yards to the base of the hill. Per s&t, at the hill turn left to an old barn foundation, about halfway from the creek to the farmhouse. The barn foundation was on the site of the furnace. Slag is in the field and along the creek. Approximate Coordinates 40 15.69'N - 79 12.05'W . (jm-2002). to top
Westmoreland Special Sources:
Boucher's History of Westmoreland County(bhw)
Guide for the Pennsylvania Railroad(gpr), Philadelphia - T.K. & P.G. Collins,printers - 1855
Ligonier Valley Historical Society, 412-238-6818.(lvh)
Greensburg & Indiana Register, July 16, 1812.(gir)
Pat & Michael Hom, San Diego, Ca., Valley, Westmoreland, California (ph)
John Motto - Fountain Furnace GPS & route (jy)


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Copyright Richard Parks, Last updated March12, 2010