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Wharton Furnace

The Wharton Furnace, a historical iron furnace located in Fayette County, Pennsylvania, was operational from 1839 to 1873.

The Wharton Furnace, a historical iron furnace located in Fayette County, Pennsylvania, was operational from 1839 to 1873.

Wharton Furnace, constructed in 1837-39 by U.S. Representative Andrew Stewart, boasted a 31-foot tall stack and a 33-foot wide bosh. 1 Utilizing charcoal as fuel, its air blast was driven by a steam engine. Iron produced here was transported to the Monongahela River at Brownsville, then shipped on flatboats to Pittsburgh. In Pittsburgh, the iron was melted in foundries, yielding products like cannonballs, while some manufacturers converted it into wrought iron products by burning off the carbon graphite.

Stewart managed the furnace until 1856, after which it underwent several changes in ownership until its final ingot was cast in 1873. 1 The absence of a nearby railroad rendered the furnace less economical compared to others, particularly those proximal to the steel mills in Pittsburgh and other cities. In the 1870s, industrialist Andrew Carnegie established highly efficient blast furnaces in Pittsburgh, which benefited from ample access to coke and coal via railroads from coalfields and iron ore via freighters and railroads from the Great Lakes region. Moreover, Carnegie’s Bessemer process manufactured a superior product, steel, from cast iron.

In 1961, the Fort Necessity Lions Club and the Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania initiated efforts to secure funding for the furnace’s restoration. 1 The Bureau of Forestry commenced repair works and installed commemorative plaques in 1962. The Wharton Furnace earned a spot on the National Register of Historic Places in 1991 and underwent further restoration and stabilization in 2016.



  1. Informational signage.

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[…] Wharton Furnace in Fayette County, Pennsylvania, was established between 1837 and 1839 by U.S. Representative Andrew Stewart. This furnace featured a 31-foot stack and a 33-foot wide bosh. Harnessing charcoal and a steam engine-driven air blast, its iron was primarily dispatched to foundries in Pittsburgh. Here, a fusion of applications awaited: some transformed it into wrought iron products, while others repurposed it for cannonballs. Despite its capabilities, by 1873, it cast its last. […]

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