Shade Furnace: Raising an Iron Furnace in the Frontier Forest of Somerset County
Speaker: Brian L. Fritz is an Adjunct Professor at Clarion University of Pennsylvania and the Owner/Principle Archaeological Investigator for Quemahoning, LLC, a cultural resources consulting business that specializes in applying principals of geology within the practice of archaeology. Mr. Fritz has earned a B.S. in geology and a B.A. in Anthropology from Clarion University of Pennsylvania, and an M.S. in Geology at the University of Akron. His ten years of experience in owning and operating an open pit bituminous coal mining business provides unique insights into the archaeology of Pennsylvania’s early extractive industries. His award winning book “Shade Furnace: An early 19th Century Iron making Community in Somerset County, Pennsylvania” is available to purchase please contact us for details.
In the year 1808, Somerset County was little more than a mountain forest with patches of fledgling farmsteads connected by rutted bridle paths. From this frontier forest, a partnership of industrious men launched a plan to raise an iron furnace along the banks of Shade Creek. Their daring plan brought to life a charcoal blast furnace, a forge for refining pig iron, and an iron plantation of more than 5,000 acres. Shade Furnace produced both success and failure to its many owners over an operational life of fifty years. Today, the ruins of Shade Furnace remain relatively undisturbed along the rugged valley slopes of Shade Creek. Its stone walls and abandoned mine pits are a time capsule to a nearly forgotten era when the engines of industry lay in the rural forests and not in the sprawling cities. The legacy of Shade Furnace continues to inspire our imagination and the entrepreneurial drive that is so deeply rooted in the pioneering spirit of the American Frontier.
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