The Furnaces of Rivertownes

People of the Furnaces

 
Photo courtesy of June Evans

Furnace Workers

The life of furnace workers and their families was difficult. Imagine the amount of smoke and noise around these industrial sites. Workers labored long, hard hours under dangerous conditions. The Shawnee Furnaces employed seventy-five men during most of the time in the late 1870s and early 1880s. In 1881 the men received total wages of $35,420 or approximately $472 per employee.

Vesta Tenement

Their Homes

Numerous fine examples of the homes of Ironmasters and furnace workers exist to this date. Ten row homes at Donegal Place in Marietta were formerly home to workers of the Musselman-Vesta furnace. At that time the tenements were known as Brick Row. At the corner of Donegal Place and Furnace Road, a former carriage house, is now home to a blacksmith's forge.

 

 

Grubb Row

 

 

A similar tenement in Columbia was home to workers of the St. Charles furnace. Once known as Grubb Row, these modest homes are located on Cedar Terrace. State Route 441 now separates these homes from the furnace site.

 

 

 

Ironmasters

Clement Bates Grubb(1815-1899) was among the wealthiest of the Ironmasters. His interest included the Chestnut Hill Iron Ore Mines and the St. Charles Furnace. Grubb owned a mansion in Lancaster at the corner of Lime and Marion Streets, an elaborate Greek Revival building, now home to the Lancaster Museum of Art. The grounds of the mansion now make up Musser Park.

 

 

Grubb's more modest home near the St. Charles Furnace (pictured at left) was razed to make way for the construction of today's State Route 441.

 

 

 

Sara Ann Ironmaster's House

 

Other ironmasters of the area also erected fine mansions, on or near the grounds of their furnaces. This well preserved home is on Garfield Road at the site of the Sarah Ann Furnace, along the Big Chickies Creek northwest of Silver Spring. Buildings of the furnace itself have been torn down, with much of the masonry reused in retaining walls on the grounds.

 

 

 

Sara Ann Ironmaster's House

 

The most unique of the Ironmasters homes is the Watts Mansion known as Riverview, located at the intersection of the Marietta Pike and State Route 441. The four story tower must have provided Watts with an excellent view of the Susquehanna River and his furnaces.

 

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