Before the time of the mass production of iron and large industry mills, iron was produced in much smaller furnaces. In Pennsylvania between the 1700’s and 1840 more than 200 of these furnaces were erected throughout the land. These furnaces were often located in rural areas so that they could take advantage of iron ore deposits and timber to make the charcoal. Many of these furnaces would employ upwards of 60 people and therefore small communities would also spring up around the furnace. These communities would have blacksmiths, grist mills, saw mills, houses for the workers, and farms to produce food for the entire community.
Where I live, I’m fortunate to have several of these close by and today I’m posting photos of Mount Vernon Furnace, which was placed on the National Register of Historical Place on September 6, 1991. This furnace is located in Bullskin Township, Fayette County, Pennsylvania and might I say it is being restored beautifully by the Bullskin Township Historical Society.
The Mount Vernon Furnace was originally built by Isaac Meason in 1798 the re-built in 1801, this was a cold blast charcoal furnace which was 26ft square at the base, 16ft square at the top, and 33ft high. It used 800 bushels of charcoal and 1 acre of trees per day. Up to 60 men were employed at this furnace until it was blown out in 1830. The metal was used to cast kettles, utensils, and other products which were then carried to Connelsville for shipment.
The restoration is underway.
And for photos of the furnace before the restoration began;