June 8, 2016
The Cornwall Iron Furnace is America’s most complete charcoal fueled ironmaking complex. This unique, historic facility is part of the National Historic Landmark District and has been designated a National Historic Landmark by the American Society of Metals. On top of those accolades, the Cornwall Iron Furnace is a destination and attraction. It’s a fantastic educational resource and tour source in Pennsylvania. The Cornwall Iron Furnace is also an event venue, featuring multiple activities and gatherings throughout each month. Just 20 minutes away from Historic Smithton Inn, the Cornwall Iron Furnace is a great place to see during your visit to Amish Country. Here is what you need to know before making a visit to the Cornwall Iron Furnace!
The Cornwall Iron Furnace is open Thursday through Sunday from 9am to 5pm and Sunday from 12 to 5pm. Admission fees are $8 regularly, $7 for senior citizens and motor club members, $4 for kids ages 3-11, and free for kids under 2 years old. There are also deals associated with group rates.
The history of the Cornwall Iron Furnace goes all the way back to 1742. It was established by a stonemason named Peter Grubb, who began mining nearby. The furnace remained in operation until 1883, surviving almost a century and a half of operations. Then it fell into the hands of Robert Coleman.
Pennsylvania was one of the top producers of iron, smelting one-seventh of the entire world’s supply. After Coleman died, his property passed down to his sons and the furnace stayed active until newer operations took hold, which used anthracite coal and made the old method obsolete. Eventually the Cornwall Iron Furnace was abandoned along with the property until it was given to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in 1932 by Margaret Coleman Freeman Buckingham, who was a descendant of Coleman.
While on a Cornwall Iron Furnace tour, you will learn all about the history of the furnace. You will also get a tour of other aspects of the grounds, including the red sandstone buildings constructed to protect industrial equipment, the charcoal barn converted into a modern Visitors’ Center, the charging room where raw materials were thrown into the furnace, and the casting house where the furnace was tapped for iron. During the tour, you will also see the filler, which added the right combination of raw materials into the charging hole at the top of the furnace stack and a blowing apparatus that includes the 4-ton, 24-feet “Great Wheel.” There is also a 20 horsepower single cylinder steam engine and some boilers located on top of the furnace stack, which used exhausted heat to power the steam engine.
After visiting the Cornwall Iron Furnace, come back to Historic Smithton Inn in Ephrata, PA, for a charming bed and breakfast retreat in beautiful Amish Country. Download our free vacation guide for more to see and do in the surrounding area!
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