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Virtual Museum of Pennsylvania Iron Furnaces & Iron Works

Digital Iron Furnace Research Library
The 19th Century Society of Pennsylvania
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Iron Furnaces of Armstrong County Pennsylvania
Biddle Furnace &
Iron Works
(Rock Furnace)

Armstrong County,
Pennsylvania, U.S.A.

Pennsylvania Iron Furnace Sourcebook
Armstrong County Iron Furnaces

A Tribute to the Iron Masters and Iron Workers
that built and keep in-blast
the old Stone Blast Furnaces of Pennsylvania.

Raymond A. Washlaski, Historian, Archaeologist, Editor & Web Master,
Ryan P. Washlaski, Technical Advisor.

Virtual Museum of Pennsylvania Iron Furnaces & Iron Works
A Publication of the 19th Century Society of Pennsylvania
Updated Dec. 7, 2004

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Biddle Furnace & Iron Works:   on Roaring Run, near Apollo, Armstrong County, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.
Date Built: ca. 1825
Date Out-of-Blast: ca.1855 

Other names Biddle Furnace was known by:  
McNickles's Furnace;
Rock Furnace (ca.1847-  ?  );
Rough Furnace;
Woodward's Furnace.

(This page still underconstruction.)

Short History of Biddle Furnace (Rock Furnace):
Documents Relating to the Manufacture of Iron in Pennsylvania, 1850
A Detailed Statement of all the Charcoal Cold Blast Furnaces in Western Pennsylvania in the year 1850
Published on behalf of the Convention of Iron Masters,
Which met in Philadelphia, on the Twentierth of December, 1849
Philadelphia: Published by the General Committee. 1850
Name of Works date of Sheriff's
sale or failure
in-blast 1849
out-of-blast 1849
date of construction Capacity in Tons
Rock Furnace    1849 S         1        1847   1,100 Tons
        Owners  Post Office      Kind of ore used  No. of Men &
Boys Employed
 No. of horses &
mules Employed
A. Woodward   Apollo Brown Hematite & Argillareous Carbonate       60         48
No. Tuyeres
 Kind of
Power used
Kind of Metal Made  Largest product Actual Product
in 1849
    1  8 feet  30 feet    Steam mottled & white iron or
hard iron
   600 Tons   -   Tons

                                                                                                           (Iron Masters Association,1850:n.p.)

Biddle Furnace (Rock Furnace):  James W. Biddle built this furnace in 1825 on Roaring Run near the town of Apollo.  It went into blast on Christmas Day, but the venture was not successful.  The furnace changed hands several times until 1855, when it went out of blast permanently.

A little of each side is still standing [ca.1966]. One openiing is partly visible [ca.1966].  There is a large amount of slag over the surrounding area.  A huge rock overhanging the road beside the furnace.   That is why it was known as Rock Furnace.  (Sharp & Thomas,1966:8)

Location: From Apollo, Pa. follow S.R.03120 north for 1.4 miles to Jackson Road S.R.03120. This road leads to T-454. Go right on T-454 for about 3/4 mile. On the hill shortly before reaching the bridge over Roaring Run, a gated dirt road turns sharply right. Follow this dirt road for about 3/4 mile. After crossing a gas line bridge over Roaring Run near its junction with Rattling Run, look for the large rock on the left overhanging to road. Biddle Furnace ruins are across the road, in the creek valley, from this rock. (Sharp & Thomas,1966:8)

Bibliographical Sources:  This section under construction.                                                    

Biddle Furnace
View of Biddle Furnace (Rock Furnace), Apollo, PA
Biddle Furnace
View from the Road at Biddle Furnace (Rock Furnace)
Biddle Furnace
(Rock Furnace)
View of huge rock above Biddle Furnace (Rock Furnace)
Biddle Furnace
(Rock Furnace)
View from the huge rock above Biddle Furnace (Rock Furnace).  Roaring Run is at the top of the picture.

If you have pictures or know of where pictures of the furnace are located or additional information on Biddle Furnace (Rock Furnace), Armstrong Co., please contact the Ironmaster

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