After work and after cutting a small load of pole wood into shorts this afternoon we decided to treat ourselves to a drive. Joanna had looked at a few maps before we set off and had the trip set in her mind. What she could not know from the maps however was that Route 1001 took us right into the Pennsylvania State Game Lands and quickly turned into what she called a Squirrel Track. On our way back to the main road she caught sight of what we would later learn was a significant landmark, one which is listed with the National Register of Historic Places. Hidden in this tiny town was the historic Farrandsville Iron Furnace. The furnace is said to have been the first successful hot blast furnace built in America. It produced nearly 50 tons of high-quality pig iron every week beginning in 1837. It is a massive structure, stands 54 feet high and is of dry stone construction meaning that it stands without mortar. Although my knowledge of early blast furnaces is limited I do know that this one was fueled by coke (made from coal) rather than wood and that it forced air up through the reaction chamber rather than relying on convection. Materials for construction of the furnace itself (quarried stone and fire brick), raw materials for production (iron ore and limestone), and fuel (coke from bituminous coal) were all transported to the furnace from very local sources, by canal and over land by inclined plane, at a time when roads for semi-trailers and rails for trains were a distant future away. The Clinton County Historical Society indicates that the blast was powered by a single, 170 horsepower, steam engine. As the younger generation would say (and, no pun intended) … How cool is that?


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