Built between 1837-1839, this behemoth of a blast furnace was the first in the United States to use coal and coke fuel instead of charcoal to make pig iron.
The molten iron was heated to 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit into molds called “pigs” (hence “pig iron”) and the iron output was as high as 60 tons per week.
The furnace was in operation until 1855, by which time local markets were flush with iron and iron products, and larger, more efficient furnaces were constructed. An influx of cheaper imported iron was yet another blow against local operations.
The massive furnace, also known as The George’s Creek Coal and Iron Company Furnace No. 1 stands 50 feet high atop a 50 square foot base, rising in a truncated square pyramid that is 25 square feet at the top.
Several of the ancillary structures that were initially part of the furnace, including a top house, molding house, engine house, and two hot-air furnaces, are long gone, but a car from the original operation is still extant on the grounds of Furnace Park.
In the history room of nearby George’s Creek Regional Library, a compendium of copious notes known as the Lonaconing Journals provides deep insights into the operation of the furnace during its heyday.
Know Before You Go
Lonaconing Furnace was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1973