Lehigh Furnace

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In 1826 Stephen Balliet (1781-1854) and Samuel Helfrich purchased twenty-five acres from Christian Snyder and Christian Bloss and built a furnace on that land near Trout Creek[1] that was thirty feet high and eight feet at the bosh. The location was chosen for its proximity to the Blue Mountain, which supplied the wood needed for charcoal production[2]. The furnace was ignited or "blown in" in 1826[3]. At the time, ore was brought from a mine in South Whitehall (presumably Ironton) owned by Stephen Balliet and Samuel Helfrich[4]. In the 1830 Census for Heidelberg Township, Lehigh County, PA, an entry for "Helfrich & Balliet (furnice [sic])," reported the following white males: one from age fifteen to under twenty, nine from twenty to under thirty, and one from thirty to under forty[5][1]. Samuel Helfrich and family had their own listing. After Samuel Helfrich died in 1830, his shares were purchased by Stephen Balliet. Stephen Balliet operated the furnace until 1854, when he passed away[6].

Applebach was the first superintendent of the furnace[7]. Samuel Lewis (1805-1897) was the manager of the furnace from 1828 to 1832[8] [9]. Benjamin Levan (1806-1886) was the manager from 1832 to 1854[10]. Levi Haas was a bookkeeper for the company[11][2].

Eventually, the furnace was sold to Cooper and Hewitt of New York, owned by Peter Cooper and his son Edward Cooper and Peter Cooper's son-in-law Abram S. Hewitt[12], who ran the furnace until 1880[13]. More information on Abram Hewitt can be found on the Lives of Workers page. In 1861 the furnace had two operational stacks[14].

In 1876 the furnace was listed as being out of blast for four years[15].

The Lives of Workers at the furnace were impacted by various factors, including their income. Wages at the furnace were raised in 1879. The furnace workers' daily wages increased from $1.10 to $1.55, and the wages of outside workers increased from $1.00 to $1.40[16].

Early in 1879 one of the tuyeres became obstructed, which posed a threat to the furnace. To avert greater damages, workers at the furnace burned $2,000 worth of cord wood instead of coal in order to keep the furnace warm[17].

Furnace Statements

In 1850 the Lehigh Furnace was owned by "S. Balliet and Co." The furnace was listed as having no furnaces in blast and one furnace out of blast. The furnace utilized hematite ore. Prior to 1850, the largest tonnage produced by the furnace was 1,430. In 1849 1,204 tons of iron were produced; capacity was listed as 1200 tons. In that same year, ninety men and boys were employed by the furnace and sixty "oxen, horses and mules" were used by the furnace. The hot blast furnace operated at five hundred degrees. It had one tuyere with a diameter of two and three-quarter inches. The bosh was seven and a half feet and the height was thirty-one feet. The blast was powered by water. The furnace produced "number one" metal[18].

The furnace produced 554 tons of pig iron in 1857[19].


  1. Swank 1884, 149
  2. Mathews and Hungerford 1884, 553
  3. Convention of Iron Masters 1850
  4. Allentown Democrat 1898
  5. United States Census 1830
  6. Allentown Democrat 1898
  7. Allentown Democrat 1898
  8. Allentown Leader 1897, 1
  9. Allentown Democrat 1898
  10. Allentown Democrat 1898
  11. Allentown Democrat October 11, 1899
  12. Allentown Democrat, May 4, 1898
  13. Whelan October 16, 2002
  14. Reading Times December 2, 1861
  15. The American Iron and Steel Association 1876, 60
  16. The Carbon Advocate, October 4, 1879
  17. Reading Times March 28, 1879
  18. Convention of Iron Masters 1850, 141
  19. Whelan October 16, 2002

Reference List

  • The Allentown Leader. 1897. The End Has Come. Samuel Lewis, Pioneer Iron Master, Passes Away, July 31, 1897.[3]
  • The Allentown Democrat. 1898. The Last Existing One of the Eastern Pennsylvania Charcoal Furnaces, May 4, 1898.[4]
  • The Allentown Democrat. 1899. Met with a Fatal Fall, October 11, 1899. [5]
  • 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 Carbon Advocate. 1879. Local and Personal, October 4, 1879. [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.
  • Reading Times. 1861. Business Reviving, December 2, 1861. [8]
  • Reading Times. 1879. $2000 Worth of Wood Burned to Avert the Chilling of a Furnace, March 28, 1879.[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]
  • United States Census, 1830, database with images, FamilySearch : 14 August 2015, Pennsylvania > Lehigh > Heidelberg > image 17 of 32; citing NARA microfilm publication M19, (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.).
  • Whelan, Frank. 2002. Lehigh Iron Furnace: adventure of 2 men ** Samuel Helffrich and Stephen Balliet started the business in 1826.The Morning Call, October 16, 2002. [11]