East Penn Furnace

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The East Penn furnace was erected by Stephen Balliet (1781-1854) and Samuel Hellfrich near Pennsville in 1837[1] in East Penn, Carbon County. Aaron Balliet (1813-1895) was in charge of the furnace from 1838-1855. The cost of building the furnace was said to have been $180,000[2]. Following the death of Stephen Balliet in 1854, the furnace was purchased and operated by Solomon Boyer and Charles H. Nimson in 1858[3]. One of Stephen Balliet's sons John Balliet (1819-1886)[4] purchased the furnace[5] later on.

The iron was manufactured with charcoal[6] and was in blast eight to ten months a year[7]. The furnace utilized hematite ore from Balliet's mine, which was also utilized by the Lehigh Furnace. The ore was black, gray, and red in color and was of the limestone formation II. A survey of the furnace when it was not in blast found that the slag was a "very rich light blue color," although this was not the typical color of slag at the furnace[8].

In 1862 the furnace was partially destroyed by a freshet[9]. The charcoal stock house burned to the ground on Monday, June 15, 1874. The loss was quite severe, according to the report in the newspaper[10]. In February 1881 there was a fire that damaged the engine house and machinery. The cost of the damage was not too steep[11].

In 1891 it was reported that the furnace was the oldest furnace in the Lehigh Valley[12].

Furnace Statements

In 1850 East Penn (Pennsville) Furnace was owned by Stephen Balliet and Co. Prior to 1850, the largest tonnage produced by the furnace was 780. In 1849, 624 tons of iron were produced. The capacity for the furnace was listed as one thousand tons. In that same year, fifty-five oxen, horses and mules, and sixty-one men and boys were employed by the furnace[13]. The Lives of Workers at the furnace were impacted by their employment. The furnace operated cold blast[14] (temperature was five hundred degrees) with one tuyere with a diameter of 2.25 inches. The bosh was seven feet and the height was thirty feet. The blast was powered by water. The furnace produced "number one" metal[15].

In 1876 the furnace was listed as having one stack and being 28 feet in height with a bosh of 7.5 feet[16].

The furnace was set to be demolished and its machinery be sent to other furnaces owned by the P. & B.C. and I. Company[17]. In 1890 the two stacks at the furnace were dismantled[18].


  1. The American Iron and Steel Association 1876, 28
  2. Reading Times, December 4, 1889, 1
  3. Mathews and Hungerford 1884, 722-723
  4. Brenckman 1918, 197
  5. Swank 1884, 149
  6. Carbon Advocate, July 25, 1891[1]
  7. Mathews and Hungerford 1884, 722
  8. Wetherill 1854, 46
  9. Portrait and Biographical Record 1894, 268
  10. Carbon Advocate, June 20, 1874 [2]
  11. Reading Times, February 17, 1881, 4
  12. Carbon Advocate, July 25, 1891[3]
  13. Convention of Iron Masters 1850, 151
  14. The American Iron and Steel Association 1884, 32
  15. Convention of Iron Masters 1850, 151
  16. The American Iron and Steel Association 1876, 28
  17. Reading Times December 4, 1889, 1
  18. The American Iron and Steel Association 1892, 70

Reference List

  • The American Iron and Steel Association. 1876. The Ironworks of the United States: A Directory of the Furnaces, Rolling Mills, Steel Works, Forges and Bloomeries in Every State. Philadelphia: James B. Chandler's Steam Printing Establishment.
  • The American Iron and Steel Association. 1884. Iron and Steel Works of the United States: Embracing the Blast Furnaces, Rolling Mills, Steel Works, Forges, and Bloomeries in Every State and Territory. Philadelphia: Allen, Lane, and Scott.
  • The American Iron and Steel Association. 1892. The Iron and Steel Works of the United States: Embracing a Full List of the Blast Furnaces, Rolling Mills, Steel Works, Tinplate Works, and Forges and Bloomeries in the United States; Also all of the Cut-Nail Works, Rod Mills, Wire-Nail Works, Wire Mills, Car-Axle Works, Car-Wheel Works, Car-Builders, Locomotive Works, Cast-Iron Pipe Works, and Wrought-Iron Pipe Works. Philadelphia: Allen, Lane & Scott.
  • Brenckman, Fred. 1918. History of Carbon County, Pennsylvania; also containing a separate account of several boroughs and townships in the county, with biographical sketches. Harrisburg, PA, J.J. Nungesser.
  • The Carbon Advocate. 1891. In a Few Words. July 25, 1891.[4]
  • The Carbon Advocate. 1874. Local and Personal. June 20, 1874. [5][6]
  • Convention of Iron Masters. 1850. Documents Relating to the Manufacture of Iron in Pennsylvania. Philadelphia: General Committee. [7]
  • Mathews, Alfred, and Austin N. Hungerford. 1884. History of the Counties of Lehigh and Carbon, in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Philadelphia: Everts & Richards.
  • Portrait and Biographical Record of Lehigh, Northampton, and Carbon Counties, Pennsylvania: Containing Biographical Sketches of Prominent and Representative Citizens of the Counties, Together with Biographies and Portraits of the Presidents of the United States. 1894. Chicago: Chapman Publishing Co.
  • Reading Times. 1881. East Penn Furnace Loss not so Heavy. February 17, 1881. [8]
  • Reading Times. 1889. Tearing Down a Furnace. December 4, 1889. [9]
  • Swank, James M. 1884. History of the Manufacture of Iron in All Ages, and Particularly in the United States for Three Hundred Years, from 1585 to 1885. Philadelphia: Published by the author. [10]
  • Wetherill, Charles M. 1854. "Report on the Iron and Coal of Pennsylvania." In Science and Mechanism, by Charles Goodrich. Prabhat Prakashan. [11]