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Cultivating the art, heritage, and recreation of the river towns of Columbia, Marietta, Wrightsville and surrounding areas

Musselman-Vesta Iron Furnace Center

26 Furnace Road

Marietta, PA 

Open Seasonally on Sundays 1 PM - 3 PM

Rivertownes Meetings: First Wednesday, 6:30 PM

Marietta No.1 and No.2 Furnaces

The two Marietta furnaces were built between 1847 and 1849 by Henry Musselman and Dr. Peter Shoenberger. Henry Musselman had operated a freight business prior to purchasing land at Chickies in 1847 in partnership with his wife's uncle, Dr. Peter Shoenberger, an affluent ironmaster from central and western Pennsylvania who was known as "The Iron King". Henry Miller Watts, Dr. Shoenberger's son-in-law, was a successful lawyer from Carlisle, who assumed Shoenberger's share of ownership after the latter died at Marietta in 1854. To assure a supply of raw materials for his furnaces, Henry Musselman bought local farms that had both iron ore and limestone deposits from Christian and Andrew Hershey. The mules and wagons that hauled the raw materials were stabled in barns on those farms. Musselman hired tenant farmers and oversaw the operation of his farms simultaneously with the operation of his furnaces.

By 1867, the Musselman and Watts partnership owned three furnaces, Marietta No. 1, Marietta No.2 and a third furnace then called Musselman Furnace (later Vesta, then Lavino). The Musselman/Watts partnership was dissolved in 1867. Watts took the two Marietta furnaces and Musselman took Vesta, the newest furnace. Henry Miller Watts, Musselman's partner in the building of Vesta Furnace, became the owner of the Marietta furnaces in 1868, and he and his sons operated them until 1886. Marietta No. 1, which was dismantled in the late 19th century, was the main working furnace. Marietta No.2 was evidently an auxiliary furnace that was used only at peak production periods. The stack of Marietta No.1 was originally 33' high and 10' across the bosh, but it was remodeled several times. By 1880, the stack was 50' high with a 12-1/2' bosh, and a closed top with bell and hopper had been added. Combined annual capacities of the furnaces were 12,000 net tons in the 1880's. They produced neutral gray forge pig-iron that was extensively used for boiler and flange iron. Both furnaces used local as well as Cornwall ores. Only the Marietta No. 1 ruins remain that consist of the base of the stone stack, which is badly deteriorated and covered with vegetation, and several adjacent furnace-related foundations. The foundations of Marietta No.2 were destroyed when the local sewage treatment plant was erected on that site in the 1970's.