In the second half of the 19th and early 20th century there existed in the vicinity of Columbia, Marietta and Wrightsville an industrial complex which included eleven anthracite iron furnaces and canal and railroad facilities which served them and other furnace related structures. This historic complex had local and regional importance during its period of major activity from about 1845 to 1900 as a producer of pig iron. The furnaces exemplified the technology of the period by their use of anthracite coal and hot blast for the smelting of iron ores, a process which dominated the iron industry for a brief time before the use of coke as a fuel became more important. Because northeastern Pennsylvania could supply a rich source of anthracite coal to areas which had none, anthracite fired furnaces, using locally available iron ores, were built throughout the eastern part of the state. These furnaces helped to make Pennsylvania a leader in iron production in the second half of the 19th century. Lancaster County ranked high in Pennsylvania in production of pig iron during this period, and the complex of furnaces in the river towns contributed significantly to that output.
About This Site
This site is a project of Rivertownes PA USA, a non-profit 501 (c) (3) organization with the mission of promoting, preserving and enhancing the culture, heritage and related commerce and recreational activities in the Pennsylvania Susquehanna river towns of Columbia, Marietta and Wrightsville and surrounding areas.
All photographs and graphics are courtesy of Rivertownes unless otherwise indicated.