The Furnaces of Rivertownes

St Charles Furnace

 
 
Original artwork by Klaus Grutzka. Courtesy of Rivertownes PA USA.

The History

The site of the St. Charles Furnace is located near Norfolk Southern property just south of County Park boundaries and not far from the abandoned tunnel which was cut into the hillside for the Pennsylvania Railroad's Harrisburg, Mount Joy, Portsmouth and Lancaster line which opened in 1850. The St. Charles Furnace was built in 1854 by Clement Brooke Grubb, an ironmaster from the prominent Grubb iron mining and manufacturing family. Grubb bought the nearby Henry Clay Furnace in 1875 and renamed it St. Charles No. 2. Together, these two furnaces had an annual capacity of over 20,000 tons of pig iron, which was well known for its quality for boiler plate, bars, nails and foundry work. In 1863 Grubb built a large iron ore roaster, the first of its kind in Lancaster County, to remove sulfur from the local ores used in the furnaces. The St Charles Furnace was remodeled in 1879-80, but only six years later it went out of blast for the last time and was dismantled in 1897. View 1886 map of the furnace.

Today's Remnants

St Charles Furnace StackThe foundations of the casting house, part of the engine house and the stone stack of the furnace are still standing in heavily overgrown woods. Brick arched openings for the tuyeres and a circular channel which ran partially around the base of the stack to direct the hot blast of air to the furnace hearth are visible. The remains of the stack can be seen in the fall and winter from the Route 30 bridge, near the Route 441 exit.

 

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