Musselman-Vesta Iron Furnace Center
The Musselman-Vesta Iron Furnace Center is the only intact furnace building remaining in the Chickies Historic District Furnace Complex. The four room (two up and two down) Musselman-Vesta building is now used as an educational center managed by Rivertownes PA USA. The stories of the anthracite furnaces, the Pennsylvania Canal and Railroad, the operation of the “hot blast” furnaces are explored by visitors. An HO scale diorama of the furnace complex has been constructed using Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps.
In the fall of 2018, the Dr. June Evans Henry Clay Furnace Exhibit was dedicated. The exhibit contains many of the artifacts that were found at the furnace between 1988 and 1994. The Millersville University field school's excavation is documented by grids, photographs, and copies of Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps. The exhibit is housed in a cabinet from the Marietta Billmeyer Jewelry Store.
Many people who come through the doors marvel at the industry that lined the river until a little over a century ago. School classes, Boy Scout troops, local community organizations and home-school students have visited the Musselman-Vesta Iron Furnace Center as part of their Pennsylvania and local history curriculum. The Iron Center is located along the new Lancaster County Northwest River Trail that connects Columbia and Bainbridge. Many bikers and walkers drop by to discover the wonders of iron furnaces belching smoke, find out why “pig iron” is called that, view the interactive HO scale diorama that depicts the Vesta Furnace during the 1920s, and tour the industrial ruins that made Lancaster County push the United States forward in the Industrial Revolution. Rivertownes PA USA is in the process of writing a docent guide and student handbook as part of the education program with a mini-grant from the Susquehanna Riverlands Conservancy. The newly restored Musselman-Vesta Iron Furnace Center is open to the public Sunday afternoons during the months of May to October from 1-3p.m. and upon request.
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