On a research trip into family history for a client, looking at tax records m Lebanon County Pennsylvania from the mid to late eighteenth century, I was curious to see “furnaces” listed as being among the assets of a few residents. I questioned some local historians and found out that these weren’t for home heating, but referred to iron smelting furnaces. They melted iron ore mined in the hills of Pennsylvania into usable metal for the production of stoves, horseshoes and armaments like cannons. These operations were the ancestors of the steel mill and were the beginning of the United States of America as an industrial power.
Check out this website on one such furnace that we visited recently. From the home page, click on the “History” and “Furnace Tour” tabs.