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Lackawanna Iron and Coal Company Furnace
Photograph from the National Register Collection

Interior view of Furnace
Photograph by Kristen Carsto

The Lackawanna Iron and Coal Company Furnaces represent the remnants of an industry with important statewide significance. As early as 1838, William Henry was investigating the feasibility of establishing an anthracite fueled blast furnace along Roaring Brook in the Lackawanna Valley. Well schooled in the process of making iron, Henry had been the first American to experiment successfully with applying a hot blast to the smelting of iron ore at the Oxford Furnace in Belvidere, New Jersey. In 1840 Henry bought 503 acres in alliance with his son-in-law Seldon Scranton, George Scranton, and Sanford Grant. The blast furnace was not completed until early autumn of 1841. By the summer of 1844 the furnace averaged five to seven tons of pig iron a day, but the company soon went into the more profitable business of producing T-rails for the railroad industry. In 1847, the company listed 800 employees, including many Welsh, Irish, and German immigrants. In 1853 the firm reorganized again and became the Lackawanna Iron & Coal Company. The company's assets in 1854 included three furnaces, the rolling and puddling mills, foundry, two blacksmith shops, car shop, two carpenter's shops, saw mill, grist mill, office, company store, 200 dwellings, boarding house, manager's houses, ore and coal mines, tavern, and a recently completed hotel. Eventually, due to the cost of shipping iron ore into Scranton from the Midwest, as well as the changing markets, a decision was made to move the plant to Buffalo, New York. In 1903 the Scranton property was sold to the Wyoming Valley Railroad, which contracted with a Philadelphia company that scrapped all of the equipment, and tore down all the structures except the stone blast furnaces. In the late 1960s the furnaces were acquired by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and were administered under the State park system. The furnaces were transferred to the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission in 1971. Today the four connected stone blast furnace stacks are surrounded by 3.84 acres. The furnaces are set into the south side of a hillside with a10 foot wide bridge, supported by masonry arches connecting them to the rock cliff. The two easternmost furnaces, dated 1848-1849, are built of smooth dressed stone blocks and stand 40 feet high and are 40 feet wide at the base. No. 3 and No. 4 furnaces were constructed c.1852 and c.1857 respectively, and are constructed of rough dressed stone blocks and also stand 40 feet high. Furnace No. 3 is 46 feet wide at the base, and furnace No. 4 is 48 feet wide at the base. All of the furnace stacks still contain vestiges of their firebrick linings. The first, third and fourth stacks contain ruins of their 19th-century hearths.

The Lackawanna Iron and Coal Company Furnaces are located at 159 Cedar Ave. in Scranton. The Visitor Center building is open on seasonal schedule. Grounds are open daily, 9:00am to 5:00pm. For further information about the Iron Furnaces' hours and programs, call the Pennsylvania Anthracite Heritage Museum at 570-963-3208. Individuals with disabilities who need special assistance or accommodation to visit this site should call in advance to discuss their needs.

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