Historical Marker Greenwood Furnaces LH Side of Stack Front of Furnace
Historical Marker Greenwood Furnaces LH Side of Stack Front of Furnace
Inside the Stack Looking Up the Stack Cupola Remains Iron Support Bar
Inside the Stack Looking Up the Stack Cupola Remains Iron Support Bar
Iron Master's House Blacksmiths Building
Irons Master's House Blacksmiths Building


Greenwood Furnace is yet another site maintained by the Pennsylvania State Parks. The location includes not only the furnaces, but an entire iron village community, including the blacksmith's building, stables, iron master's house, bookkeeper's house, and the church. The foundations of the grist mill, boarding house, and school house are present, along with the cemetery and slag dump. The overall site is well maintained and second only to the Hopewell site, which has tenant houses and boarding houses still standing.

The first furnace was built between 1833 and 1834, while the second furnace came into blast in 1867. The first furnace was a cold blast furnace with a water wheel and bellows, while the second furnace utilized a steam powered system with air tubs. See Cornwall Furnace for more information on air tubs.

The two furnaces did operate for a time simultaneously, making Greenwood the only known site in Pennsylvania where two furnaces operated at the same site. However, the first furnace has not been restored, so only the lower portions of the stack remain. The second stack is in excellent shape, both inside and out. The cupola is gone, except for a small portion of the hearth. There is a large chuck of iron slag adhering to the cupola remains.

Like many of the furnaces in Pennsylvania, the builders utilized iron bars running the length of the furnace to stabilize the stack. The picture shows a rare view of the retaining plate.

The Iron Master's House was built in 1833 and has 14 rooms on three floors. It was established for James Hall, who was one of the owners and the resident iron master. The arboretum sun porch was added in 1881.

The stables were an important area for any iron furnace. In addition to the iron master's horses, the stables housed the horses and mules utilized to haul iron, limestone, and charcoal to the furnace.

Iron furnaces tended to operate in remote areas, enabling easy access to the raw materials required for iron production. As a result, an important aspect of the iron master was to plan for feeding the community. Certain tracts of land (having been cleared of timber) were designated for agricultural use, and livestock was maintained on site. The meat house on site is not the original building (1833) but the second structure built for housing meat. There is no evidence that this building was used for smoking meat, but hand forged meat hooks remain hanging from the joists. The meat house stored hams, bacon, and other meat for sale through the company store, which was located nearby (no longer standing). Across the road from the furnace site is the foundation stones of the grist mill (built 1842), used to grind feed grain for the company animals, and provide cornmeal and flour to the community.

Another important building was the blacksmith's building, which also incorporated the wagon shop. These operations maintained the wagons utilized to haul raw materials to the site. The blacksmith shod the horses and mules, maintained the tack and harnesses, and repaired the tools used at the furnace.

Also on site is the Greenwood Furnace church, erected in 1865. The land was sold by the iron master (along with land for the school), and the church was built out of native stone. In 1897 a reed organ was installed at the church. The church is still used to this day. Nearby is the furnace cemetery, which holds veterans of the Revolutionary war and Civil War. Twenty seven of the graves are marked, with an additional forty graves unmarked.

On the other side of the furnace grounds are the foundation stones of the school house. Students attended grades 1-8, with a curriculum of reading, writing, arithmetic, geography, physiology, other courses. Historical records also indicate that a total of 90 houses existed at Greenwood, but these are no longer standing.

The company is also known to have sponsored a 15 piece brass band and a baseball team, called the Energetics.

First Visited: 3Q 2002


Start of Operation: June 5, 1834 (First Furnace), 1867 (Second Furnace)

Blowout: 1882 (First Furnace), 1904 (Second Furnace)

Daily Tonnage: 5 tons/day (First Furnace), 12 tons/day (Second Furnace)

Built By: Freedom Iron Works

Stack: 30 feet

Blast: Cold

Type: Charcoal

Old Picture of Greenwood Furnace Iron Wagon Charcoal Wagon Old Picture of Transport
Old Picture of Greenwood Furnace Iron Wagon Charcoal Wagon Old Picture of Transport

Originally, the iron ore for Greenwood was transported by wagon trail from the Big Valley. In 1839 ore deposits were found at nearby Brush Ridge, and a narrow gauge rail track was laid to improve the transportation of the raw ore. The picture of the iron wagon also shows this track. Other than the small section on display, none of the original track remains between the furnace site and the ore beds, located three miles away.

After burning was completed, the charcoal was transported by wagon to the charging shed. Carriers had to be very careful, as the fresh charcoal would sometimes ignite when exposed to the rushing air. Early carriers would tip the load to prevent loss of the wagon, while later designs enabled the driver to "dump" the load on the road by opening the bottom of the wagon.

Old Picture of Charcoal Mound Old Picture of Fired Charcoal Mound
Old Picture of Charcoal Mound Old Picture of Fired Charcoal Mound

The making of charcoal is an ancient practice. By covering wood prior to burning, charcoal is obtained, rather than simply wood ash. The pictures show a stack of wood ready for covering with dirt and leaves. Once ignited, the stack would burn for 10-14 days, and would require constant attention. The picture shows a collier working on the mound, probably to either repair an opening in the cover, or adjusting the venting. For more information on charcoal making and colliers, see Hopewell Furnace.


Located in Greenwood State Park, just southeast of State College, PA.

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